Nidhe Israel Synagogue

We visited the oldest synagogue in the western hemisphere, Nidhe Israel, recently. The building is a beautiful light pink color on the outside and on the inside, lovingly restored. It is a two-story square building with only one Jewish-identifiable symbol, a Star of David in a stained-glass window. It was first built in 1654. What I have to say about the synagogue cannot compete with a recent article in Reform Judaism called Diaspora: Miracle in Barbados. There was also an in-depth blog post that I found prior to coming to Barbados, researching what we might find in our new yet temporary home. It was written in 2008 by Drew Kaplan.

While visiting, we met the shamas, Emerson, who gave us a friendly and detailed tour of the synagogue. The museum was closed so we will definitely go back some time in the future. The adjacent cemetery had an odd arrangement of above-ground graves and some propped-up headstones; it's pretty clear that many of the graves were not in their original position and during an earlier renovation these sites were disrupted and not put back with the best of care. Also, there is a renovation currently going on of a mikveh, discovered in 2007, which will probably not be used for its original purpose, once it is opened. The mikveh dates to the 1700's.

The picture of all of us above is outside of the entrance to the upper gallery. The entrance to the upstairs is in the back of the building.

Services are not held here year-round but will begin in the winter, tourist season. Congregation Shaare Tzedek will meet in Nidhe Israel Synagogue from about December to February.

The video and the photographs are mine and can be found on YouTube and Flickr.

No comments: