CURACAO (Mar. 17)
Ceremonies marking the 250th anniversary of the oldest synagogue in continuous use in the Western hemisphere began today on this Dutch island in the Caribbean with the first in a series of events sponsored by the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) this week.
Nearly 200 leaders of the World Union gathered here to celebrate the historic anniversary of Mikve Israel-Emanuel Synagogue, built the year George Washington was born and still the site of Jewish services. The Curacao congregation is a member of the WUPJ–the international organization of Reform synagogues in Israel and 25 other countries. The governing body of the WUPJ, representing Liberal and Reform congregations throughout the world, will meet here Friday. Gerard Daniel of New Rochelle, N.Y., WUPJ president, heads the mission.
The Dutch government, which is officially participating in the celebration, has issued commemorative stamps and coins and a special edition of Delft tiles to mark the event.
Located in Willemstad, the capital of the Netherlands Antilles, the richly-furnished, gabled synagogue was consecrated on the first day of Passover in 1732. It is the fourth synagogue building to be used by the congregation, which was founded in 1651 by Jewish refugees fleeing the inquisition in Brazil.