Compelled to flee the Iberian Inquisition in Europe, Jews began crossing the Atlantic Ocean and settling in the West Indies from as early as the 15th century. When the Inquisition travelled to Brazil in the late 16th century, Jews sought refuge in Jamaica. From that time, to the persecutions in Nazi Germany in the 1930s and 40s, Jamaica proved tolerant and welcoming, and today, the Jewish community remains a strong thread in the nations tapestry. But little is known about this segment of Jamaican society and its contribution to the development of modern day Jamaica. The Island of One People: An Account of the History of the Jews of Jamaica redresses this unawareness in an engaging exploration of the Jewish-Jamaican community and its contribution to the development and modernization of the Kingston Harbour, the construction of numerous housing developments, and landmark buildings such as the Ward Theatre; from the development of companies such as the Lacelles de Mercardo conglomerate with interests in sugar, rum, insurance, motor car agencies and airport and shipping services, to the establishment of the renowned Gleaner newspaper, arguably the oldest newspaper in the western hemisphere; from representing Jamaica internationally to the now iconic work of Belisario; the contribution of the Jewish community in nation building in Jamaica is unquestionable. Copiously illustrated, the result is a vibrant, engaging story of not just Jewish, but Jamaican history.
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