January 27, 2011
First synagogue in 200 years opens in St. Martin
The Jewish community of St. Martin opened its first synagogue since the 18th century.
The synagogue, part of a new Chabad Center operated by Rabbi Moshe and Sara Chanowitz, is based in a 1,200-square-foot office space that once housed a church. Opening ceremonies were held Jan. 3.
The Chanowitzes moved to the Dutch-owned Caribbean island in 2009 to serve its 300 Jewish residents. The Jewish population swells to 1,000 or so during the tourist season.
Jews first came to the island as refugees from the Spanish Inquisition, and the community grew during the 16th and 17th centuries. The lone synagogue was abandoned in 1781 and later destroyed by a hurricane.
A historic Jewish cemetery also was recently discovered, according to chabad.org.