Essai historique: The Jewish Diaspora in the America’s

Van Dun, Peter (2008) Essai historique: The Jewish Diaspora in the America’s. In: 16th ICOMOS General Assembly and International Symposium: ‘Finding the spirit of place – between the tangible and the intangible’, 29 sept – 4 oct 2008, Quebec, Canada. [Conference or Workshop Item]


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Abstract (in English)

In the beginning of the 16th century Jews from Spain (and later on from Portugal) were forced by the ‘Holy Office of the Inquisition’ to become Christian and abandon their Judaism. Due to the expansion of the non-Iberian powers in the America’s by England, France and the Netherlands, many of the Iberian Jewish refugees fled to opportunities in the New World. The Netherlands started settlements in Brazil and on the Guyana reef on the so-called Wild Coast of South America. Jews from Portugal, especially, saw a new future in these regions (being Dutch territories, in which the Jews experienced a liberal attitude) and settled there. With the reoccupation of Brazil by the Portuguese in 1654 the Jews left. Since they were considered as experienced planters and traders in tropical agriculture they were heartily welcomed by other governing authorities including Suriname. The Jews were seen as an important economic impulse in the low populated areas of the interior of the region. The Jews were allowed to organize their own administration; to have their own courts, schools, cemeteries; build their synagogues; and to worship on the Saturday (Sabbath). Production in the plantations along the Surinam River – mostly sugar - formed the economic basis of which the necessary labour force was supplied by slaves. At the end of the seventeenth century the economic interest of the Jews started to move downstream along the Suriname River to Paramaribo and to combine forces with the Dutch settlers. Jodensavanne started to decline and became deserted. A fire of 1832 finished of the existing town. the synagogue was repaired. The last service was held in 1869, where after the building was left and decline started. The site became overgrown by bush and not until the beginning of the Second World War, the first cleaning and identification actions were undertaken. 2 Financed by the Jewish community of New York, today Jodensavanne has again been ‘cleaned’ from overgrowth and provided with explanatory signs. Jodensavanne was placed on the Tentative List of the World Heritage List in 1997 by the Surinam Government. The nomination file is almost completed; a management plan is being made up. The back up might not be the specific architecture (all that rests are archaeological remains) but the remembrance of the start of the Jewish Diaspora in the America’s.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Van Dun, Peter
Languages: English
Keywords: Jewish community; diaspora; historic monuments; intangible heritage; cemetery
Subjects: H.HERITAGE TYPOLOGIES > 15. Human settlements
H.HERITAGE TYPOLOGIES > 09. Historic buildings
Name of monument, town, site, museum: The settlement of Joden Savanne and Cassipora cemetery, Suriname
ICOMOS Special Collection: Scientific Symposium (ICOMOS General Assemblies)
ICOMOS Special Collection Volume: 2008, 16th
Depositing User: Jose Garcia
Date Deposited: 06 Sep 2010 08:25
Last Modified: 13 Jan 2011 19:12
References: BENNET, RALPH G. History of the Jews of the Caribbean. In:

BENOIT, P.J.: post Gelderland en de Joden-Savanne, van de

rivierzijde gezien.

BENOIT, P.J. : De Jodensavanne en het kerkhof, van het Cordonpad te zien.

BERNARDINI, PAOLO and FIERING, NORMAN The Jews and the Expansion of Europe to the West 1450 – 1800 (New York: Berghahn Books, 2001).

BETHENCOURT, Notes on the Spanish and Portuguese Jews in the United

CARDOZO DE: States, Guiana and the Dutch and British West Indies during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Publications A.J.H.S. no. 29, 1925.


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