Jeruzalem at the river
Jodensavanne marks the area of the former settlement of the Portuguese–Jewish community in Suriname. Jodensavanne lies on the right banks of the Suriname-river about 50km south from Paramaribo the capital of Suriname. 1639 came Jewish settlers from Holland, Portugal and Italy to Suriname and settled in the old capital Torarica. They began immediately in the environment sugar-plantation to erect. In the year 1652 a new group settlers under the leadership of the Englishman Lord Willoughby came to Suriname. This group settled in the area Jodensavanne. In the year 1664 a third group of Jews came to Suriname after they had to leave first Brasil and then French Guyana. This group came under direction of David Nassy into Suriname and settled also in Jodensavanne. Between 1665 and 1671 was built the first synagogue from wood. 1685 a second from bricks. Through Samuel Nassy were given 1682,1685 and 1691 properties at the community. 1691 becomes through the governor van Scharphuisen a land register displayed which gave the Jewish community a property of 10000 areas size. It give also permission to the building of the synagogue of a cemetery and dwelling houses. The village was built on a hill and had gave very favourable conditions because of the nearby three natural wells. Clear water delivered one the second hot water and the third a wholesome water, which was exported even to Europe. The synagogue built from stone received the name "Beracha Ve Salom". There were two cemeteries with numerous white marble-stones, the age lay in the Cassiporacreek the second nearby the village. The Jews laid out plantations and produced sugars. The Jewish settlers saw the Jodensavanne as a second holy land. They gave many of their plantations settlements Hebrew biblical names. Therefore, in Suriname one could find such as Beersheba, Carmel, Mahanaim, Dothan, Soccoth, Moriah, Nahamou, Hebron or Rama. After a blooming period a descent take place in the second half of the 18th century. (The Jewish communities were companion in distress of the Jews the 17. 18. and 19. century) The inhabitants began to leave Jodensavanne and moved in the flourishing new capital Paramaribo. After some time lived in the Jodensavanne only still about 20 poor families them their living had guarded in that they did business with the soldier from the "Gordonpad" (a protection circle around the plantations). Only at their holidays the Jews came back in large number to Jodensavanne. Their synagogue was held still long in honours, at which on the 12.Okt 1785 the year-celebration was completely large. 1832 put a large fire, wilfully put, almost all houses in ash. Since then nobody lived more in Jodensavanne. Still service was celebrated until around 1860 in the synagogue. After that the area was overgrown by the jungle, from the synagogue remained only the foundations. 1906 became on inspiration the rabbi Mr.Hilfman the ruin of the synagogue and the cemetery where cleaned up again. After short time again everything was relinquished and the jungle took over again. A strive of Mr. Oudschanz Dentz 1927 to collect money for the reconstruction of the ruin brought no result. The claim the Dutch-Portuguese-Israelite community on the property of Jodensavanne was not acknowledged through the colonial force (1907). An appeal at the minister of the colonies had no success (1908). After long-time quarrel the area was given back with resolution Nr.2916 by the 3.Sep 1937 to the government. After outbreak of the 2.worldwar in March 1942 was erected an internment camp for NSB´er in the Jodensavanne. The internees recovered the order to bring the area in order. About 436 graves were exposed, only 59 inscriptions were still readable. 1946 left the NSB´er the area and Jodensavanne was neglected again. 1967 through the TRIS (Tropicalforce in Suriname) the Jodensavanne became cleaned up again. Thereby some new graves were discovered. Also on the older cemetery at the Cassiporacreek 250 gravestones were exposed . The oldest grave found dates from the year 1667. Besides the ruin of the synagogue remainders of the bakery, the butcher shop and a ritual bath were found also. Also the wholesome fountain was found again. 1968 a series stamps were given out with the theme Jodensavanne. At the 11.Okt 1971 commission Jodensavanne was build and could restore with the aid of the authority and with the help of money from the STICUSA and the Ministry of Education and the Arts the ruin of the synagogue again. It was erected also a small museum. At the 14.Aug 1973 the official opening occurred.
Unfortunately all efforts for the area Jodensavanne were defeated in the years 1980-81. The adjacent villages Redidotti and Carolina as well as the destination Blakawatra were made scene of an Indian-revolt and it also didn't make hold before Jodensavanne. The museum and the buildings of the archaeologists were destroyed. The artefacts from the museum were stolen or damaged. For a reconstruction the money was missing and so all visitors could only visit the ruin of the synagogue and the adjacent cemetery . However there is still an great interest in Jodensavanne. Again and again visitors come in the area around to learn something over the past of the Jewish community. In the year 1997 Jodensavanne is taken in the list of the 100 most important cultural monuments of the world. This had the consequence, that in February 1998 a new commission was build to take care with the restoration of Jodensavanne . The synagogue both cemeteries the fountains and all artefacts should be restored and made open to the public. Progress has been made since the first visit of Miss Rachel Frankel in 1997. She inspected the ruin of the synagogue and find great similarity with the Portuguese-Jewish synagogue that was build around 1675 in Amsterdam. In 1998 Miss Frankel returned with a crew to make a total set up from the Cassipora Cemmetry. Now in February 1999 the whole area is cleaned up and with the great effort of Mr. Guido Robless, Henk Essed and the commision we are looking forward to get Jodensavanne back on the list of the 100 most endangered sites of the world. Jodensavanne can now again welcome all visitors with an informative and friendly face.