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The Girls They Left Behind: Curacao's Jewish Women in the Nineteenth Century

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Publication Date: October 2002

Publisher(s): Hadassah-Brandeis Institute

Author(s): Josette Capriles Goldish

Topic: Culture and religion (Cultural heritage and preservation)
Population and demographics (Migrants and migration)
Population and demographics (Women)
Social conditions (Marriage and family life)

Keywords: Gender; Social Patterns; Communal Organization; Residential Mobility


This paper analyzes the gender differences among Curacao's nineteenth century Sephardic Jews during and after the outmigration that occurred in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. It seeks to gain a better understanding of the effects of the departure of a large number of young Jewish men, which created a Jewish gender imbalance on that Caribbean island that was once the home of the largest Jewish community in the Americas. Using case studies based on unpublished genealogical data bases as well as synagogue death registers, the author shows the rate of intermarriage of Curacao's Jewish men in certain Caribbean locations as well as the comparatively lower marriage rate of the Jewish women who remained in Curacao. In closing the author reviews changes that occurred at the end of the nineteenth century, which marked the beginning of Jewish female leadership in Curacao and set the tone for subsequent participation of women in Curacao's socio-political development in the twentieth century.


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