14 December 2009

Jews of the Caribbean: Jamaica

Here are some well-known Jews of Jamaica:

-- Poet Daniel Lopez Laguna (1635-1730), a survivor of the Inquisition who converted biblical Psalms into poems. A book of these poems, Espejo Fiel de Vidas (The True Mirror of Life), was published in 1720 and was the first book to be published in Jamaica under British rule.

-- 19th century painter Isaac Mendes Belisario, whose famed "Belisario" prints of Jamaican characters are cultural icons, now featured on a series of Jamaican stamps.

-- Newspapermen Jacob and Joshua de Cordova, who founded the "Gleaner" in 1833. Jacob went on to found the city of Waco, Texas.

-- Ward Theatre architect Rudolph Henriques, a noted artist whose firm Henriques and Sons was awarded the commission in a competition. The majestic landmark was built in 1912.

-- Jorge Ricardo Isaacs (1837-1895), author of Maria, considered the "national novel" of Columbia.

-- Sir Neville Noel Ashenheim, a member of a family known as legal luminaries, served as Jamaica's first ambassador to Washington, 1960s.

-- Richard Stern, the Hon. Ernest Altamont da Costa and Councillor Senator Hon. Eli Matalon, served as Mayors of Kingston in 1896-97, 1925-27 and 1971-73 respectively.

-- The Matalon family, known as one of Jamaica's long-standing captains of industry and supporter of the arts.
For much more on Jamaican Jewish history, see this article (2005) by Dr. Rebecca Tortello - Out Of Many Cultures: The People Who Came - The Jews In Jamaica - which can be read at Pieces of the Past here.

The detailed article (photos from 1978 and 1984, ) covers these main topics: The Arrival, Jewish Jamaica - Spanish Town and Jews in Jamaica-Kingston.

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