Sugar, Slavery and the Sephardim of Barbados 1654-1934
Presented by Dr. Simon Kreindler
The Portuguese brought sugar cane from their Atlantic colonies to Brazil in the early 1500s and within a relatively short time that country became the largest sugar producer in the world.
In 1630, the Dutch ousted the Portuguese from Pernambuco province, one of Brazil’s largest sugar producing areas. Sephardi Jews from Holland followed and got involved in the production, trading and shipping of raw sugar.
Not long after Barbados was settled by the English in 1627, sugar cane was introduced from Brazil and rapidly replaced cotton and tobacco. When the Dutch lost control of Pernambuco in 1654, Sephardim with experience in the sugar industry came to the island and helped the planters with their technical expertise and shipping know-how. Within a few years Barbados had become England’s wealthiest Atlantic colony.
The Dutch Sephardim established a vibrant Jewish community on Barbados and built a beautiful synagogue in the capital, Bridgetown.
This presentation will look at the Sephardim’s success; their ultimate demise; and the legacy they left the Ashkenazi community that followed them.
Dr. Simon Kreindler, a JGS of Canada (Toronto) member since 1997, grew up in Barbados, studied medicine in Montreal and since 1971 has practiced psychiatry in Toronto. He has been researching his family’s Galician roots for many years and has been able to trace his paternal and maternal lines back to the late 1700s
In 2013, a long-standing interest in family history led to his writing a memoir for his children and grandchildren incorporating his 40 plus years of genealogy research.
The stories of his parents` journey from pre-WWII Europe to Barbados inspired him to record the equally fascinating stories of their Ashkenazi Jewish contemporaries on the island as well as the stories of their children who had the good fortune to grow up there. These stories have now been published in “Peddlers All, Stories of the First Ashkenazi Jewish Settlers in Barbados.”