Surinam Jewish Computer Genealogy
P.O.B. 1982
Paramaribo - Suriname S.A.
Tel. / Fax.  597 - 452760

An Introduction

During the inquisition in Portugal and Spain around 1500, many Jews fled to Holland and the Dutch colonies to escape torture and condemnation to the stake. Those who were converted to the Catholic fate were called "Marranos". The stadtholder of the King of Portugal gave those who wanted to depart some time to settle their business and supplied them with 16 ships and safe-conduct to leave for Holland. The most prominent amongst them were Rabbi Izak Aboab and members of the Nassi, the Meza and the Pereira families. Many of the Jews who went to Holland departed later for the Dutch colonies because of the climate and problems with their co-religionists in Amsterdam (See Wanderings by Chaim Potok) Many took the opportunity offered by the Dutch government to immigrate to Brazil free of charge or for a small fee. For some time they found in Recife a new home, being merchants or sugar cane growers. In 1636 Manuel Mendes de Crasto (= Manuel Nehemias) sailed with 2 ships (De Soutcas and Graeuw Paert) and 200 Jews to Recife where they arrived on February 5th 1638. Although they were guaranteed freedom of worship in 1634, antisemitism soon developed in Recife, mostly caused by jealousy and distrust. Balthasar van de Voorde, counsel in Recife, wrote in 1643 to the Chamber of Zeeland: "We rule the land and its inhabitants, but the Portuguese rule our possessions" (ARA, OWIC box 58). After 1643, in Recife everything began to change in trade and commerce. Creditors started to seek repayment. Many debtors went into hiding or departed. Those who were sent to prison stayed there at the expense of their creditors, who soon requested their release.


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