10. 3-Hour Jewish Heritage of Curacao
Your first stop on this tour will be the Jewish cemetery Beth Haim. Consecrated in 1659, it is the oldest Caucasian cemetery on the island and in the Western Hemisphere. The site is also a Curacao National Monument. Then, you will visit another historic site also created as a peaceful sanctuary, the Rooi Catootje Plantation House. It dates to about 1820 and was originally known as “Rust en Vrede,” which translates to “Rest and Peace.” The house was the property of the Maduro family since 1853, when S.E.L. Maduro brought it as a gift to his wife Rebecca Curiel from her parent’s estate. The house has now been preserved as a museum.
Continue to the 17th century plantation house Chobolobo, owned by a Jewish family, where Curacao liquor is produced. Tour the house and learn more about the family name and history. Before leaving, take the opportunity to enjoy samples of this famous local product. Next, continue with a drive through the old Jewish neighborhood of Scharloo. Stop at the Mikveh Israel Emanuel Synagogue, or the Snoa as it is affectionately known locally, which rests on exceptionally hallowed ground.
The Jewish faith has been practiced here without interruption since 1732. The congregation itself is even older, having been established in 1651. It was just this fear of persecution that drove many of Curacao’s earliest Jewish residents to relocate to the island in the first place. They were rightfully more than a little guarded about their beliefs, even upon founding their congregation and building their synagogue nearly a century later. That’s one of the main reasons why you’ll find a sand floor in the Snoa today. The floor pays homage to those earliest Jewish settlers in Curacao who had to muffle the sounds of their footsteps and prayers when meeting in secret during the Spanish Inquisition.