Jamaican Organizations and B’nai Brith to Work Together to Highlight Little-Known Chapter of the Holocaust – bnaibrith.ca

Posted By on October 17, 2022

Oct. 13, 2022TORONTO A number of Jamaican organizations have made an agreement with Bnai Brith Canada to publicize a little-known chapter of Jewish history in Jamaica.

TheJamaican Canadian Association, theJamaicaAssociation of Montreal,theJamaican Cultural Association of Nova Scotia, and the Jamaican Canadian Association of Alberta and Bnai Brith Canada will alert their members and communities to the work of York University historian Diana Cooper-Clark to inform the public about howJamaicasaved Jews fleeing the Holocaust.

Cooper-Clarks research found that nearly 1,000 Jews from many parts of Europe, particularly the Netherlands, were housed at the Gibraltar refugee camp, near Kingston inJamaicabetween 1942 and 1945. At that time, Jamaica was part of the British Empire.

The camps location is within thegrounds of the University of the West Indies these days. Cooper-Clarks work has uncovered that the camp had a capacity of 6,000. There is some question as to why British authorities did not use the camps to their full capacity.

Many people are surprised to learn that Jewish history inJamaicastretches back to the start of colonial history, said Mark Henry, President of theJamaicaAssociation of Montreal. Jamaicawas the first place to allow Jews to vote in the British Empire. It has always provided a sanctuary against antisemitism, andit is no surprise that in 1942Jamaicans welcomed the Jewish refugees with open arms.

Henry said there recently was a reunion in Kingston of those who lived in the refugee camp and said the public needs to know more about this little-known chapter of history.

The national director of Bnai Brith Canadas League for Human Rights agrees with Henry.

The Gibraltar story is important not only because it broadens our knowledge of the Holocaust but also aids our understanding of enduring warm relations between theJamaican and Jewish peoples, Marvin Rotrand said. Today, there are growing ties betweenJamaicaand Israel and there are 2,000 persons residing inJamaicawho identify as Jewish.

Rotrand said Jamaicas Jewish community is diverse, representing people of various races and reflecting both Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jewish traditions. Rotrand said theKahal Kadosh Shaare Shalom synagogue on Duke Street in Kingston dates from 1912 and is noted for its architectural value and can accommodate more than 600 persons for services.

We are pleased to alert Canadians to Professor Cooper-Clarks scholarship, said Olive Phillips, president of theJamaican Cultural Association of Nova Scotia. During World War II,Jamaicans served to defend Britain and volunteers in the Caribbean Regiment were stationed in the Middle East, including in Israel, creating a lasting link.

Our organization speaks for theJamaican-Canadian diaspora in Ontario, said David Betty, president of theJamaican Canadian Association in Toronto.But even in our community, this story of compassion is too little known. While the world closed its doors to Jews,Jamaicans were ready to help.

Dave Pennant of theJamaican Canadian Association of Alberta said that the public would benefit from knowing more about how Jews during the darkest hours of the Holocaust found sanctuary on a Caribbean island.

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Jamaican Organizations and B'nai Brith to Work Together to Highlight Little-Known Chapter of the Holocaust - bnaibrith.ca

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