History

Spanish/Portuguese Congregation Mikve Israel-Emanuel (1651) I the oldest Jewish Congregation in the Western Hemisphere. Its Current (1732) synagogue, its sixth on Curacao, is the “oldest synagogue building in continuous use in the Western Hemisphere. Its interior, with its magnificent brass chandeliers illuminated with 144 candles, the white sand which covers its floor and the mahogany furniture, is modeled after its mother congregation’s building in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, which is 57 years older. Congregation Mikve Israel is known as the “Mother Congregation of the Americas”. Its current membership is approximately 250 souls, the majority of them descendants of the original S&P Jewish settlers of Curacao.emisphre. Its Current (1732)

At varying times in the middle of the 1800s, there were petitions to the Mahamad/Parnassim by members of the congregations to introduce reforms to the Orthodox ritual. Some even withdrew from the congregation until certain changes were accepted, concluding in 1864 when more than 20 families left the Mikve Israel congregation to form the Dutch Reform Emanu-El congregation. In 1867, the first Sephardic Reform Congregation was consecrated in Tempel Emanu-El, not far from the Mikve Israel synagogue.