|About the Book|
In this detailed and intriguing book, author Mordechai Arbell explores the fascinating individual histories of 14 of the Jewish communities of the Caribbean that were once the economic lifeblood of the region, but have long since diminished or even vanished.A chapter on the Jewish community of tiny St Eustatius describes their mercantile and agricultural activities and accomplishments, and vividly retells the terrible physical destruction of the Jewish way of life during the British occupation in 1781. The chapter on Curacao, the Mother of Jewish communities in the New World, describes a prosperous Jewish community that comprised nearly half of Curacaos non-slave population and was the center of Jewish life in the region, however today the Jewish community numbers no more than 200.For all their economic and local political power, the Jews were little more than pawns in the 200-year struggle for control of the Caribbean by Holland, Great Britain, France and Spain. Eventually growing tired of this chess game, the Jews of the Caribbean drifted into assimilation or immigrated to the United States, where life was more secure.The Jewish Nation of the Caribbean is an ideal resource and captivating read for those travelling to the region or people with an interest in Jewish history. Arbell has produced an exceptional book, as it not only provides a detailed chronicle of the Jewish communities of the Caribbean, but also brings them to life, with intensity, and with a heartbeat so strong as to secure their proper and rightful place in recorded Jewish history.Mordechai Arbell was born in Bulgaria and immigrated to Israel with his family during the Second World War. After studies at Hebrew University, he joined the Foreign Ministry of the State of Israel, including posts as Consul in Bogota and Ambassador to Panama and Haiti. He has devoted much of his life to documenting the story of Jews in the southern part of the New World. He is currently a Research Fellow at the Ben-Zvi Institute for the Study of Jewish Communities in the East at Hebrew University, and is an advisor to the World Jewish Congress.