The Jews of Suriname, site of the oldest permanent Jewish settlement in the Western hemisphere, held a special commemorative week in the capital city of Paramaribo to mark 500 years since both the discovery of America by Columbus and the expulsion of the Jews from Spain.
Special services were held alternatively in the Sephardic and Ashkenazic synagogues in this small country, the former Dutch Guiana, located on the northeast coast of South America.
There was also an exhibition on the history of the Jews of Suriname and a concert of Sephardic music to end the week.
Jews settled in the former Dutch territory, formerly spelled Surinam, as far back as 1639. It is thought they came from both Holland and Italy.
Another group of Jewish immigrants came from England in 1652 or 1662. A third group arrived in 1666 from Cayenne, French Guiana, and British Guiana.
For the special anniversary, Suriname’s postal service issued a commemorative stamp depicting a ship with a menorah in the upper left corner and a Magen David with the word “Sepharad” in the upper right.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.