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Jamaica Rabbi: My Experiences Among the Jews of Jamaica Presentation with Rabbi Dana Evan Kaplan
June 11 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
Participate in an exciting presentation on Thursday, June 11 at 11am on Zoom! Rabbi Dana Evan Kaplan, the Rabbi at Temple Beth Shalom in Sun City, Arizona, will present, “Jamaica Rabbi: My Experiences Among the Jews of Jamaica”.
This talk will introduce the Jewish community of contemporary Jamaica, a diverse group of people whose ancestors settled on the island during the Spanish period in the mid-1600s. In the summer of 2011, Rabbi Kaplan became the first rabbi in Jamaica in 33 years. His new community was the United Congregation of Israelites, who worshiped in the Shaare Shalom Synagogue in Kingston, Jamaica. It was led by predominantly Portuguese Jews whose ancestors had escaped from the Inquisition in the 1500s. These ancestors had fled Portugal for Amsterdam, where they had returned to Judaism, just as the family of Baruch Spinoza had done. Many then settled throughout the Caribbean, not only in Jamaica but in Suriname, Barbados, Nevis, St. Thomas, Curacao, and other key trading cities. Once the British conquered Jamaica in 1655, Jews who had been secretly living on the island were allowed to openly practice their religion. They built a synagogue in Port Royal, known as the wickedest city in the west until it was destroyed in an earthquake on June 7, 1692. The Jewish community spread throughout the island; there are 26 Jewish cemeteries throughout the country.
By the time of his arrival, the majority of the Jewish community was in Kingston, the political and economic center of the country. His synagogue – the only one remaining in the country when he arrived in 2011 – was a large white building, originally constructed in 1885, destroyed by a massive earthquake in 1907, and rebuilt in 1912. This talk will describe some of his experiences working with the diverse Jewish community that he found not only in Kingston but throughout the country. What Rabbi Kaplan found was very different from Jewish communities in America. He will describe his time working with not only synagogue members, but also individuals with long-buried Jewish ancestors and Jamaicans with no previous exposure but a great deal of interest in the Jewish religion.
Please RSVP to Justin at Justin@hcrj.org.
Shaare Shalom Synagogue in Kingston, Jamaica (Exterior)