Community in Aruba - World Jewish Congress

A 2013 census report estimates that there are only 85 Jews in the Jewish community of Aruba. Small but vibrant, the Jewish people significantly contribute to the Caribbean island’s public life, as several members play important roles in politics and the judiciary.

The main body of representation for Aruban Jews is the Israelitische Gemeente (Jewish Community of Aruba), the Aruban affiliate of the World Jewish Congress.

WJC Affiliate
Israelitische Gemeente (Jewish Community of Aruba)


Leader: Rabbi Daniel Kripper

The history of Jews in Aruba dates back to the 16th century when Sephardic Jewish immigrants began to arrive. Moses Solomon Levie Maduro, a Portuguese-Jewish worker for the Dutch West Indies Company, was the first Jew to immigrate to the island and established the Aruba branch of the company, Maduro and Sons, in 1754.

After the arrival of Maduro, several other European families began to move to Aruba, and by 1867, only 23 Jews lived on the island. However, it remained difficult to establish any organized communal representative groups. As a result, they did not follow a traditional Jewish lifestyle.

In the early 1920s, an influx of immigration from Eastern Europe, mainly Poland, saw the addition of Ashkenazic Jewry to the established Sephardic-based community. Additionally, Jews from Holland and Sephardic families from the former Dutch colony of Surinam (South America) also arrived in Aruba.

In 1942, the Jewish Country Club on Palm Beach was established, providing the community with a place to celebrate and participate in Jewish life. With the arrival of several Holocaust survivors shortly after World War II, the community began to organize and consolidate itself.

The Dutch Kingdom officially recognized the Jewish community of Aruba in 1956, and in 1962, the Beth Israel Synagogue in Oranjestad was consecrated.

Today, the community mainly comprises the Jewish families who settled in Aruba in the 1920s. Mike Eman, the current prime minister, identifies as a member of the Aruban-Jewish community; his mother was Jewish, and his father was Protestant.

The Years of the Holocaust

According to the 2010 census, there are 85 Jews in Aruba, with an additional 150 members of the Jewish community living overseas; Jews constitute 0.08% of the overall population. Aruban Jewry is almost entirely centered in Oranjestad, the capital.

Community Life

The community is represented by the Jewish Community of Aruba (Israelitische Gemeente), which operates out of the Beth Israel Synagogue in Oranjestad and works to organize the community and advocate on their behalf. Due to the small size of the Aruban Jewish community, almost all services – social, humanitarian, and entertainment – fall under the auspices of either Beth Israel or the Jewish Community of Aruba.

Environmental work is important to the community: Project Genesis, a beach cleaning and tree planting volunteer initiative, is popular amongst community members.

Religious and Cultural Life

Beth Israel Synagogue is Conservative-orientated and features a mixture of Ashkenazi and Sephardic traditions. The popularity of the island as a tourist destination sees a constant flow of Jewish tourists who visit the community and participate in religious life while in Aruba. There is also a strong identification with Israel in the community.

Kosher Food
Jewish Education

Due to the small size of the community, there are no day schools currently providing a Jewish education. Beth Israel does, however, offer various Jewish educational programs and initiatives for school-aged children.


Youth programs emphasizing Jewish identity and heritage, as well as a connection to Israel, are run through Beth Israel Synagogue and Chabad.

Jewish Media

The Jewish Community of Aruba publishes a monthly blog called Chadashot Beth Israel that is sent to both local and overseas members. It can be found here.

Information for Visitors

Notable Jewish sites in Aruba include the Beth Israel Synagogue and Chabad center. Additionally, there is an Old Jewish Cemetery in Oranjestad that contains a number of gravestones dating back to 1563, an indicator of the early Jewish presence on the island.

Relations with Israel

Israel and Aruba have diplomatic relations. Though the country does not have an Israeli embassy, it does have an honorary consulate in the capital that is headed by Martha Elena Lichtenstein.

Israeli Honorary Consulate in Oranjestad, Aruba
Royal Plaza Mall, Suite #226
Oranjestad, Aruba
Telephone: (+297) 582 46 71
Fax: (+297) 582 82 31

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