Nidhe Israel Synagogue
|Nidhe Israel Synagogue
בית הכנסת נדחי ישראל
Street view of synagogue exterior
|Ecclesiastical or organizational status||Active|
The Nidḥe Israel Synagogue (Hebrew: בית הכנסת נדחי ישראל Bet Knesset Nide Yisrael, lit. Synagogue of the Scattered of Israel) is the only synagogue in Bridgetown, Barbados. It also holds the distinction of being one of the oldest synagogues in the western hemisphere and a Barbados National Trust property. In 2011 the synagogue and excavated mikveh were designated as UNESCO protected properties within the World Heritage Site of Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison area.
Haim Isaac Carigal was in Barbados, perhaps acting as rabbi of the congregation, at the time of his death in 1777.
About 300 Jews from Recife, Brazil, persecuted by the Portuguese, settled in Barbados in the 1660s. Skilled in the sugar industry, they quickly introduced the sugarcane crop and passed on their skills in cultivation and production to the Barbados land owners.
With their help, Barbados went on to become one of the world's major sugar producers and one of the richest European territories in the West Indies.
From the time that the synagogue was deconsecrated in 1929, it underwent numerous changes. The women's gallery that looked down on the altar was converted into a full second floor. Arches around the windows and the original floor was replaced. The building changed ownership many times as well and the Jewish cemetery outside became a dumping site.
In 1983, the building was seized by the Barbados Government, which intended to raze the building and erect a courthouse. Two years later, it turned the building over to the Barbados National Trust, in thanks to petitioning by the local Jewish community. In 1986, the renovation process began led by Paul Altman. The building was returned to use as a synagogue when the renovation was complete, though it is still owned by the National Trust.
In 2008, an American archaeologist, Michael Stoner, was excavating the former rabbi's house on the premises. As he was digging, two Israeli tourists happened by and uttered the word mikveh. After excavating for three weeks, Stoner had indeed discovered a mikveh, probably dating to the 17th century.
The Nidhe Israel Museum was also opened in 2008.
- History of the Jews in Barbados
- Dutch Brazil
- History of the Jews in Latin America
- List of historic buildings in Bridgetown and Saint Ann's Garrison
- Borns, Patricia (1 June 2008). "Saving traces of the Jewish diaspora in Barbados". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 20 June 2008.
- Jewish Ledger
- Sharkey, Nancy (11 December 1988). "A Barbados Synagogue is Reborn". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 June 2008.
- Harrison, Donald H. (6 April 2001). "Who were the 'Bearded Ones?'". San Diego Jewish Press. Retrieved 20 June 2008.
- Kramer, Lauren (12 November 2006). "Jewish island spirit". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
- Oldest known Jewish settlement in Barbados Nidhe Israel Synagogue and Museum in Barbados.
- Archaeologist in Mikvah Excavation, The Jewish Synagogue, The Ministry of Community Development & Culture, Barbados.
- Video of the grounds of the Jewish Synagogue /w interviews.