December 1, 2016
This photographic essay highlights the little-known history of the first Jewish communities established in the New World dating to the 1600s. Award-winning photographer Wyatt Gallery documents the oldest synagogues and cemeteries on Barbados, Curaçao, Jamaica, St. Thomas, St. Eustatius, and Suriname through his singular style of photos with histories written by Stanley Mirvis. The enclaves, formed by Sephardic Jews who fled the Catholic Inquisition, became so influential that they helped fuel the success of the American Revolution and partially finance the first synagogues in New York City and Newport, Rhode Island. Once home to thousands, today these historic communities are rapidly dwindling and could soon disappear. Only five historic synagogues remain in use, and many of the cemeteries have been damaged or lost to natural disasters, vandalism, and pollution. These photographs bear witness to the legacy of New World Judaism and provide a record for future generations.