Jewish, Dutch in Suriname

Jewish, Dutch
Photo Source:  Anonymous 
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People Name: Jewish, Dutch
Country: Suriname
10/40 Window: No
Population: 200
World Population: 33,200
Primary Language: Dutch
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: Yes
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Jewish
Affinity Bloc: Jewish
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

In the 1600s, various European powers were attempting to control what later became Suriname, in northern South America. Jewish people began to arrive in Suriname (carved out of Brazil, a Portuguese colony) in the 1630s. They were of Portuguese descent, but they had roots in the Netherlands, Portugal and Italy. In 1652 a second group of Jewish people came with Lord Francis Willoughby who was trying to take this land for the British Empire. In 1664, the French sent a third group of Jewish colonists.
In 1665, the British gave special privileges to the Jewish population including freedom of religion. Jews were allowed to establish synagogues, Jewish schools and even have their own court of justice. Jews had more political autonomy in Suriname than they had until the founding of Israel in 1947. Eventually the British traded their colony in South America for New Amsterdam (now New York) in North America. The Dutch allowed for the continuation of Jewish rights in Suriname until the Dutch crown ended it in 1825.
Most of the Jewish people in Suriname were involved with sugar plantations until their work was destroyed by French pirates, depleted soil, disastrous fires and a major downturn in the sugar industry. The Jewish population went elsewhere to became merchants, storekeepers, peddlers and artisans. In 1835 they established the Neve Shalom Synagogue in Suriname's capital, Paramaribo.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Today there are almost no Jewish people in Suriname. The few who remain work in various trades and professions. They are well represented in small and middle-sized businesses, the communication and entertainment industries, medicine, law, and accounting. However, the more successful the Jewish executive in South America becomes, the greater tendency he may have to assimilate into Christian European ways.

What Are Their Beliefs?

For religious Jews, God is the Supreme Being, the Creator of the universe, and the ultimate Judge of human affairs. Beyond this, the religious beliefs of the Jewish communities vary greatly. Orthodox Jews generally follow the traditional religious beliefs and practices found in the Jewish literature that interprets Scripture regarding ethical, religious, civil and criminal matters. Conservative Judaism is less traditional than Orthodox and combines different ethical, philosophical, and spiritual schools of thought. Reform Judaism is the most liberal form and interprets Jewish beliefs and practices in light of contemporary life and thought. Reform Jews do not believe that the Jewish Law is divinely revealed. They are not restricted to kosher (traditional, approved) foods, nor do they wear the skull cap (yarmulke) when praying or use Hebrew in prayer. All religious Jews believe in the coming of a Messianic Age, but only the Orthodox Jew looks for a personal Messiah.

What Are Their Needs?

The Jews have a wonderful understanding of their connection with the Abrahamic covenant. However, they also have a history of rejecting Jesus Christ as Messiah, the one who has fulfilled that covenant. Jewish people need to understand Jesus as the fulfillment of what God promised humanity through Abraham centuries ago.
Unfortunately, "Jewishness" is often defined in secular terms such as the use of Yiddish words and traditions, rather than looking to the God of Abraham for all their needs. This attitude keeps Jewish people from seeking and finding spiritual truth.

Prayer Points

Pray for Jewish people to have a hunger for truth and righteousness that will lead them to their Messiah.
Pray that God will grant Jewish background believers favor as they share their faith in Christ with Jewish people.
Pray for the Holy Spirit to prepare and thrust out Christ's ambassadors to the Jewish communities.
Pray for a movement to Christ among each Jewish community.

Text Source:   Joshua Project