Now facing extinction, the Sephardic Jewish communities of the Caribbean were once so strong and influential that they helped fuel the success of the American Revolution, and finance the first synagogues in the United States, located in New York City and Rhode Island.
In the 1600’s, the West Indies became a place of salvation for Sephardic Jews who had fled to Amsterdam after the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions. La Nación, as these Jews were called, were fundamental in shaping the early Caribbean economy through their unique knowledge of sugar cane cultivation, agriculture, and an expansive network of trade. Some Jews also joined the pirates controlling the Caribbean seas, and later became influential politicians, plantation landowners, and bankers to the American colonies. While creating financial success for the European powers, the Sephardic Jews managed to prosper and keep their culture, religion, and customs alive - which lead to the continuation and support of Judaism throughout the Americas.
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