Synagogue Ruins

Sint Eustatius

Tucked into an alleyway in Upper Town are the roofless ruins of the Honen Dalim synagogue, built in 1739 from yellow brick brought in from the Netherlands as ships' ballast. For nearly 100 years, this house of worship was the center of Jewish life on Statia. Off to the side, note steps leading down to a mikvah (a cleansing bath for women). A plaque provides historical background.

Statia’s rising influence as a trade center was accompanied by a sizable influx of Jewish merchants beginning in the early 1700s. These businessmen included those of Sephardic descent who had escaped to the Netherlands during the Spanish Inquisition. The population grew even more after the Dutch granted Jews the same rights as Christians on Statia. After the 1781 invasion, British troops dispossessed and expelled many Jewish men to St Kitts. Although the community initially rebounded in the 1790s, hostilities and a declining economy prompted most of them to move to St Thomas where a new congregation had formed in 1795.

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