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Mikvé Israel – Emanuel Synagogue

Hanchi Snoa
| +599 9 461 1067
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Mikve Israel-Emanuel Synagogue   Curaçao
Mikvé Israel-Emanuel Synagogue   Curaçao
Oldest Synagogue in the West   Curaçao
Mikve Israel-Emanuel Synagogue   Curaçao
Mikvé Israel-Emanuel Synagogue   Curaçao
Oldest Synagogue in the West   Curaçao

Mikve Israel-Emanuel Synagogue

A block-long bright yellow building standing almost fortress-like above the surrounding streets in Willemstad, the Mikve Israel-Emanuel Synagogue bears testament to the long history of Judaism in the Americas. Built in 1730, it is the oldest continuously operating synagogue in the western hemisphere. Its most notable feature is the sand floor. While there are several different explanations for it, the sand is not a nod to the Caribbean location. The most common theory is that it was created to continue a tradition from Spain and Portugal where, when Jews were prohibited from practicing their religion openly and met in private homes, sand was used to muffle the sounds of worshippers.

Don't miss the small museum across from the front entrance to the synagogue. Its artifacts and photographs record how Curaçao's Jewish community has survived and thrived over the centuries.

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AFAR Contributor
almost 4 years ago

Mikvé Israel – Emanuel Synagogue

For hundreds of years, Curaçao has had a significant Jewish community who helped make the island a center of trade and banking. Their heritage is in evidence at the "Hope of Israel" synagogue, consecrated in 1732. The Dutch-colonial building displays many artifacts—Torah ornaments, mahogany reading tables, ceremonial bowls—and a sand floor, a Sephardic tradition that dates back to the Spanish Inquisition. Adjacent to the courtyard is the Jewish Historical Cultural Museum, originally a rabbi’s residence, as well as a traditional bathhouse.

AFAR Local Expert
almost 3 years ago

Mikvé Israel-Emanuel Synagogue

Curaçao’s only synagogue is also the oldest continually used Jewish temple in the Americas. In 2016, its main building, the Snoa, celebrated 365 years since its founding. The yellow neoclassical structure is hard to miss from the Columbusstraat in Willemstad, towering over a row of popular outdoor restaurants. The synagogue serves about 145 Jewish households in Curaçao. Its most distinguishing feature is its dusty floor—a reminder that the congregants' ancestors were Spanish Portuguese Jews during the Spanish Inquisition who had to cover the floor with sand to muffle the sound of their worship. Caps are provided at the entrance for the men to wear while touring the synagogue, and admission includes a visit to the Jewish Cultural Historical Museum across the courtyard.
almost 6 years ago

Oldest Synagogue in the West

Who'd think that the tiny Dutch Caribbean island of Curacao is home to the oldest synagogue in continuous use in the Western Hemisphere?! A visit to majestic Mikvé Israel-Emanuel, simply "Snoa" (Synagogue in Papiamentu), is a MUST and holds a prominent spot on many bucket lists. A yellow skyscraper located smack in the middle of Punda constructed in Dutch architectural style, Snoa is a testament to hope and survival, a veritable homage to understanding and tolerance. Built in 1732 as a tropical replica of the oldest synagogue in Amsterdam (1670/71), Snoa's ancestry dates back to 1651 when the first 12 Portuguese Sephardic Jewish families settled in Curacao by way of Amsterdam, after being exiled from Spain and Portugal during the Inquisition. Don't miss Snoa's one-of-a-kind floor -- covered in white sand!