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Guadeloupe Virtual Jewish History Tour

[By: Ariel Scheib]

Jews were first recorded living in Guadeloupe in the late 14th century. In 1391, in a surge of anti-Jewish riots that began in Spain, the most of the Jews were murdered. The community, however, began to revive during the mid-15th century. In 1485, the local inquisitor, Nuño de Arévalo, forbid all Jews from living in Guadeloupe.

Prior to the expulsion of the Jews from Spain and Portugal in 1492, the Jewish community sold the land of the old cemetery to the local bishop. Many Jews were forced into converting to Christianity; the Conversos in Guadeloupe lived together in a specified street in the former Jewish quarter. In 1489, two monks Diego de Marchena and García Capata, were burned at the stake for converting to Judaism.

In 1654, three shiploads of Jewish refugees from Brazil settled in Guadeloupe. During that time, the Jews were welcomed by the French owner of the island. Even the capital of Guadalupe, Pointe-a-Pitre was named after a Brazilian Jew, called Pietre who started a fish processing plant in the city. The Jews established sugarcane plantations, which ultimately became the country’s leading export. In 1685, however, King Louis XIV issued “The Black Code” expelling all Jews from Guadeloupe.

During the latter part of the 20th century, many Jews began to arrive from North Africa and France. In 1988, the Jewish community consecrated the first synagogue in Guadeloupe, Or Sameah. Later the congregation added a Talmud Torah, community center, kosher store, and Jewish cemetery.

Today, approximately 50 Jews live in Guadeloupe.

Communaute' Cultuelle Israelite
1 Bas du Fort
97190 Gosier, Pointe-a-Pitre
Tel. 590 90 99 08

Sources: World Jewish Congress; “Guadaloupe.” Encyclopedia Judaica