The development of the Jewish community in Haiti

The Jewish legacy in Haiti can be dated as far back as Christopher Columbus and his first crew of explorers. While the famous man himself has often been called a possible Jew, the claim has never been solidly proven. Still, many of his crew members were, including the man who traveled with him to act as his translator, Luis de Torres, who is known as the first person of Jewish heritage to set foot in the Americas.


Following this beginning, Haiti saw its number of Jews dwindle slightly as many people of Jewish descent were expelled following the slave revolt heralded by Toussaint L'Ouverture in 1804. In 1830, the persecution of Jews in Poland and other countries led to a small band of people seeking refuge elsewhere. Then there came the Nazi regime in Germany, which drove out many of the Jewish tribe from all across Europe. It funded the little Haitian country with an influx of those who could afford the travel and documentation for themselves and their families.

After the 1960's many of the 300 or so families that came here during the war left, as Haiti had been meant as a gateway into America by most, as well as for the facilitation of a wider marriage pool among their kind in other countries.

Today, what remains of the Jewish community in Haiti is a paltry amount when Haiti's eight and a half million people population is considered. Today, this country is home to less than one hundred Jews, including the Salzmanns, who were refugees out of Austria and the coffee exporters, the Weiners.

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