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The Sand Covered Floors of Caribbean Synagogues

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The Caribbean is not all about sandy beaches, its about sandy synagogues too.

As many as four synagogues in this part of the world have floors covered with sand, and a fifth one in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. These Jewish places of worship have a regular wood or brick base, but topped with a layer of sand about an inch or two in depth.

The tradition of spreading sand on the floor is thought to have originated at the time of the Spanish Inquisition, which raged across Spain and all Spanish colonies in the Americas. During this turbulent period in history, all non-Christians, including Jews, were forced to convert to Christianity. Many of these converts, however, continued to practice Judaism, but secretly. And sand provided a means to this secrecy.

The Mikvé Israel-Emanuel Synagogue in Willemstad, Curaçao. Notice the sand on the floor. Photo credit: »


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