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Sephardic Surnames in the Caribbean Communities
An index compiled by Mathilde Tagger


The expulsion of Jews from Spain occurred nearly at the same time that America was discovered. Many Jews as well as New Christians fled the Iberian peninsula and found refuge in Amsterdam and Hamburg while some Jews chose to sail to Brazil, a Portuguese colony. For a while (1624-1654) Northern Brazil was under Dutch domination. But when Brazil returned to become Portuguese territory, Jews living there fled to the Caribbean isles, also settling in some coastal localities of Surinam, Guiana, Venezuela, Colombia, Panama etc. In some of the isles that were British possessions - such as Jamaica and Barbados- Jews could openly follow their religion.

Jews particularly developed sugar cultivation, but also tobacco and other tropical goods. Many among the Caribbean Jewish settlers became international traders.

Today several books deal with the history of Jews in the Caribbean in general or in specific isles. The following works helped to build a database of Jewish surnames in that region.

Here again the surnames are composed of two names following the Iberian custom.
Arbell, Mordehay. The Jewish nation of the Caribbean : the Spanish-Portuguese Jewish settlements in the Carribean and the Guianas. Jerusalem : Gefen, c2002.
Böhm, Günter. Los sefardíes en los dominios holandeses de América del Sur y del Caribe,1630-1750. Frankfurt (M) : Vervuert, 1992.
Ezratty, Harry A. 500 years in the Jewish Caribbean : the Spanish and Portuguese Jews in the West Indies. Baltimore, Md. : Omni Arts,1997..
Grand, Samuel. Jews in distant lands. New York, Union of American Hebrew Congregations, c1977.
Loker, Zvi. Jews in the Caribbean : evidence on the history of the Jews in the Caribbean zone in colonial times. Jerusalem : Misgav Yerushalayim, c1991.
Matias, Elze Maria Henny Vonk. Os judeus portugueses nas possessões holandesas (Suriname e Antilhas). Lisboa,1988.
Terrell, Michelle M. The Jewish community of early colonial Nevis : a historical archaeological study. Gainesville : University Press of Florida, c2005.

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© Jeffrey Malka, 2007
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