Published On: Mon, Nov 11th, 2013

Wyatt Gallery the acclaimed American Photographer in Curacao

SnoaWould you ever guess that the oldest Jewish Synagogues in the Western Hemisphere are in the Caribbean?! I was shocked when I first came across a historic Jewish Synagogue while visiting Kingston, Jamaica in 1998 on a grant to photograph various spiritual sites of the Caribbean. It was such a surprise that I didn’t even think there might be more than one in the West Indies. It wasn’t until 10 years later while living in the Caribbean as a New York Times real estate & travel photographer that I stumbled upon another Sephardic Jewish Synagogue in the Dutch island of Curaçao.  Little did I know the oldest Synagogues and Jewish Communities in the Western Hemisphere are located in the Caribbean!

Being Jewish myself, I found this very surprising and fascinating so I began to research this little-known history and soon enough I was “coincidentally” assigned to photograph homes for sale on islands where the oldest Synagogues are located.

After an assignment in Aruba I stopped over in Curaçao to photograph the Mikvé Israel-Emmanuel synagogue and discovered it’s majestic beauty first hand. With sand covered floors, historic brass chandeliers, blue stained glass windows, and deep mahogany wood it is modeled off the Esnoga Portuguese Synagogue in Amsterdam. Built in 1732 it is the oldest synagogue in the Western Hemisphere still offering regular religious services.

I believe that there are no accidents in life and soon enough I was assigned to Barbados and Suriname where there are also historic Sephardic Jewish communities. I began to see first-hand that these sacred monuments and cemeteries are in extreme danger of extinction due to dwindling congregations, natural disasters, vandalism, and the elements of time.

I’ve taken on the duty of photographically documenting this modern day treasures of the Jewish experience so that to ensure that all future generations will be able to witness this exceptional story of Jewish survival and the birth of Judaism in the new world.

Written by: Wyatt Gallery the acclaimed American Photographer

Image: Snoa.com

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