Barbados Synagogue is Site of Commonwealth Conference

Sabbath eve services were held for the first time in more than 100 years in the synagogue of Congregation Nidhei Israel here last Friday night, the World Jewish Congress reported.

They marked the opening of the four-day biennial conference of the Commonwealth Jewish Council and the reconsecration of what is possibly the oldest Jewish house of worship in the Western hemisphere.

Rabbi Israel Singer, secretary general of the World Jewish Congress, officiated at the rededication and Prime Minister Erskine Sandiford of Barbados was the honored guest.

The Commonwealth Jewish Council represents Jewish communities in 24 countries of the British Commonwealth. Its president, Greville Janner, a Labor member of the British Parliament, formally opened a special exhibition on the history of “Jewish settlement in the Caribbean” at the Barbados Museum, under the auspices of the Barbadan government.

There are about 27 Jewish families in this island nation of a quarter million. Jews arrived here shortly after the first British settlement in 1672. Congregation Nidhei Israel was founded in 1654. The synagogue was partly destroyed by a hurricane in 1831. It is now undergoing restoration, expected to be completed late next year.

The 110 delegates and observers at the conference included representatives from Jewish communities in such Third World countries as India and Zambia. Resolutions adopted at the gathering, which ended Tuesday, include a strong condemnation of apartheid and a call to bring to justice Nazi war criminals still at large and living in Commonwealth countries.

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