The Nidhe Israel Synagogue

Barbados’ Hidden Treasures : The Nidhe Israel Synagogue

The idyllic tropical climate, golden suns, pristine white beaches and crystalline blue waters are what makes Barbados infamous. Its positioning as one of the Caribbean’s top luxury destinations make the island a hub for luxury travel, history, art, culture and real estate.

Dubbed as the “gem of the Caribbean Sea”, Barbados’ has a multitude of hidden treasures and interesting aspects of history and culture – one of those being the history behind Barbados’ rum.

One of the most interesting aspects of Barbados’ history is the production of rum. Barbados has cultivated rum for over 350 years and is home to the oldest and finest rum in the world. What many aren’t aware of, is the fascinating history behind the production of rum and the strong ties between the Jewish community of Barbados and the islands rum industry.

According to The Barbados Synagogue Historic District ( ) , the emergence of the Jewish community in Barbados has existed since 1628 when several Jewish families, who originally fled Spain and Portugal, escaped from religious persecution in Brazil and settled in Barbados. Their impeccable skills surrounding the production of sugar cane enabled them to cultivate the crop and by default produce sugar and its various bi-products, mainly molasses– a key ingredient in the production of rum and subsequently, the rum industry was pioneered.

Barbados’ rum is recognized as a local commodity and is the islands prominent signature alcoholic beverage. The Jewish community of Barbados are responsible for the emergence of the islands rum industry and should be recognized as an integral part of its success. The harvesting methods that were utilized centuries ago have developed and diversified over time and because of this, the Mount Gay Distillery is held in high regard.

After 26 years, the Jewish settlers constructed the Nidhe Israel Synagogue, a Synagogue built in the capital city of Bridgetown that is one of Barbados’ most fascinating attractions and is also one of the oldest Synagogues in the Western Hemisphere which is also protected by the UNESCO world heritage site. The Nidhe Israel Synagogue is an integral element of The Synagogue Historic District in Bridgetown. This protected heritage site underwent groundbreaking restoration and development, all of which occurred during the years of 1986-2017.

The Nidhe Israel Museum is also part of The Synagogue Historic District in Bridgetown. This captivating museum tells the wonderful story of the Jewish community in Barbados and honors the resilience of the community while recognizing the importance of their role in the history of Barbados’ culture and heritage, particularly in the development of the sugar and rum industry.

According  to the Barbados Synagogue Historic The Mikvah, which is also known as the ritual bath for purifying the body, was established in 1654. The Mikvah’s discovery is of great archaeological significance and forms an integral part of the heritage of the Jewish community in Barbados. The Mikvah was excavated during an archaeological investigation which occurred in 2008. During this unearthing, a plethora of artefacts were discovered, including pieces of Staffordshire slipware, a shoe buckle, old smoker’s pipes, and a jeweler’s stone mold. Some of these ancient artefacts are showcased in the Nidhe Israel Museum. 

The strong ties between the history of the Jewish community and their contribution to the cultivation of one of Barbados’ most treasured commodities is truly invaluable. The story behind the Jewish community is resilient and paramount to Barbados and should always be held in high regard. There is opportunity for the Jewish community of Barbados to grow and develop and continue to uphold the rich culture and history which should be passed down from generation to generation.

Jewish families wishing to relocate should consider Barbados as a jurisdiction in which they can settle and operate their business and wealth management platform because of the tax advantages and tax planning opportunities, business-friendly environment, high-quality infrastructure, investment protection and the strong diplomatic ties between Barbados and Israel.

HNWIs want to invest in a jurisdiction that is stable and offers adequate asset protection and security. Barbados’ established international financial centre, luxury commercial and residential real estate, low tax incentives and strong political, social and economic stability make it the ideal jurisdiction for HWNIs and their families to relocate to.

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Barbados Synagogue Historic District

(Accessed August 10th, 2020)

Barbados Virtual Jewish History Tour

(Accessed August 10th, 2020)

Kauffman, Carol Goodman. “The History of Barbados, Once a Haven for Jews Fleeing Persecution”. The Jewish Federation of the Berkshires.

(Accessed August 12th, 2020)

Go Barbados. “Bridgetown Jewish Synagogue”.

(Accessed August 12th, 2020)

Portner, Ze’ev. “Barbados, a centuries-old Jewish haven for relaxation-and refuge”. The Times of Israel.

(Accessed August 12th, 2020)

Rothholz, Peter L.” Barbados’ Nidhe Israel : Torah on a tropical isle. The Jewish Journal.

(Accessed August 13th, 2020)



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