07 May 2011

Jewish families of Costa Rica

This past week the Knowles Collection - Jews of the Caribbean was updated. While it is still the smallest of the databases which comprise the collection, it more than any other shows the influence families can have around the world. A good example of this is the country of Costa Rica.

The first Jews to settle in Costa Rica did so in the early 1800's. These early Sephardic Jews came from other Caribbean locations, such as, Curacao, Jamaica and Panama. Later in the 1930's Jews from Turkey and Germany made the move to their new homeland.At the end of the 1800's two families immigrated into Costa Rica. The records left behind by these two families, the Sasso's and the Athias Robles, illustrates how families can have a great influence.

Mordecay Athias Robles, is descended from a family from Curacao. He himself was born in St. Thomas, where he married his wife Esther. Shortly after that marriage, Mordecay, a merchant, took his new wife and settled in Alajuela where their children were born between 1873 and 1889.

At about the same time another merchant from St. Thomas, Mordecai Moritz Sasso and his wife Hannah Joselin Mendez moved to Port Limon, where their 2 children were born. These two families thus became part of the Jewish community of Costa Rica. That community, which numbers three to four thousand today, were well established as merchants throughout the Caribbean. Families like the Sasso's and the Athias Robles' families used their influence throughout the region to make a better life for their families. However, even though they both left St. Thomas for Costa Rica, they never forgot their first home, as all of the children of both families had their births recorded in the Synagogue records of St. Thomas.

These records are amongst those that were just added to the Knowles Collection - Jews of the Caribbean.

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