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12 November 2010

The Jews of Suriname

The history of the Jewish Community of Suriname dates back to the 1600's. Various histories state the the first Jews arrived in the late 1630's from Holland and Italy. The largest group of new arrivals actually occurs in the 1650's. These Jews for the most part were the descendants of those driven out of Spain and Portugal during the Inquisition. They settled in Brazil where they built good lives on large plantations. As the Portuguese got more power in Brazil, the Jews moved on. Eventually they arrived Suriname.

The third group of Jews arrived in 1664, under the leadership of David Nassy.

Some of the important dates for the Jews in Suriname include:

  • 17 Aug 1665 Jews were given many privileges, including freedom of religion, freedom to plant and trade. They were also given land for a synagogue and cemetery.

  • 1667 Suriname, an English colony surrenders to the Dutch fleet.
  • 1672 The first synagogue is built.

  • 1719 Portuguese Synagogue consecrated in Paramaribo.
  • 1737 The new Portuguese Synagogue was dedicated.

These are just a few dates, for an incredible history of the Jewish people of Suriname, visit the website The work that has gone into this site is wonderful, and if you have family, who have lived in Suriname, it will be a great research tool.

The collection of the Family History Library includes records of the Jewish Community. These records are now being added to the Knowles Collection. Included in these records are the birth, marriage and death records of the Portuguese and German Jewish Congregations (FHL film #38837 items 4-7 and film #'s 38835, 38844 and 38845) of Suriname. were filmed almost 70 years ago, they are easy to read and understand. Most of the birth records are 3 generations, with the mother's father being given.

In addition to the website mentioned above, another great source for researching the Jews of Suriname is now available. in the book "Remnant Stones; The Jewish Cemeteries of Suriname" (FHL book #988.3 V3b), authors Aviva Ben-Ur and Rachel Frankel, have compiled the epitaphs from the headstones of the Jewish People. Any researcher will find this a great addition to their work.

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