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Dutch possession on the northeastern coast of South America. Surinam is the home of the Jewish community with the longest continuous history in the Western Hemisphere. Established in 1630, it was augmented in the 1650’s and 1660’s by Jews from Brazil and England. In 1665, the English, who held the territory for a time, granted full religious freedom to “the Hebrew Nation” residing there. The Dutch confirmed this freedom when Surinam was returned to them two years later. In 1682, the Brazilian Jews, who had prospered in the cultivation of sugar, founded a colony at Woden Savanne (Savannah of the Jews). This community survived until 1832, when fire destroyed the village. Most if its inhabitants moved to Paramaribo, where German Jews had settled in the 18th century. The present Jewish community, numbering about 200, is concentrated in the capital. Some of its members are refugees who arrived from Europe during World War II. The community is organized in Sephardic and Ashkenazic congregations, both of which are represented in the Central Committee for Jewish Affairs.

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