“Jewish Treasures of the Caribbean”
Exhibition Featured at Katz JCC
Reception and Book Talk with photographer Wyatt Gallery July 11
Margate, NJ (June 6, 2017) – “Jewish Treasures of The Caribbean” is on display from July 5 – July 28 and features photographs of the oldest Jewish synagogues and cemeteries in the Western Hemisphere, surprisingly located in the Caribbean, as seen through the lens of award-winning photographer Wyatt Gallery.
The traveling exhibition features more than three dozen framed photographs from the recently published book of the same title that “captures the little-known history of the Jews of the Caribbean, as seen through remaining historic sites in Barbados, Curaçao, Jamaica, Nevis, St. Croix, St. Eustatius, St. Thomas, and Suriname,” according to Gallery. “These Jewish communities date back to the mid-1600s and are home to the first synagogues and Jewish cemeteries in the Western Hemisphere.”
“Once home to the most powerful and prosperous Jewish enclaves in the Americas, these communities have significantly dwindled and only five historic synagogues remain in use today,” according to the exhibit website. “Many cemeteries with ornate gravestones carved by gifted masons reveal the ravaging effects of natural disasters, neglect, pollution, and vandalism.”
“The goal of the exhibit is to raise awareness of the need for preservation of these little-known historic sites of the legacy of Judaism.” Says the Philadelphia-born Gallery — whose tagline is “A person, not a place.”
“While photographing the devastation after the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, I realized that a similar fate could happen to any of these historic synagogues at any time,” said Gallery, who is based in New York City.
Gallery’s exhaustive survey of these remarkable sacred sites is published for the first time in “Jewish Treasures of the Caribbean” (Schiffer, 2017). The book presents more than 200 exquisite color images along with comprehensive texts that together tell the fascinating and little-known history of the earliest Jewish communities to settle in the Americas.
One scene captured in the exhibit is of tallits, or Jewish prayer shawls. Another highlights a cemetery from the 1700s on a cloudy day, and yet another shows a more densely populated cemetery from the 1600s. Some photos take you inside the synagogues to see the Sephardic architectural design and others explore ruins from the past.
Gallery first discovered one of the sites that comprise “Jewish Treasures of the Caribbean” while heading to Aruba on assignment with the New York Times. He was living in Trinidad at the time, and en route to Aruba he stopped over at Curaçao and was surprised to stumble on the oldest synagogue in the Americas.
The Times continued to send him to various islands in the Caribbean photographing travel stories, “and coincidentally I was sent to locations that were home to more of these historic synagogues,” he said.
A special reception and book talk with Wyatt Gallery will be on Tuesday, July 11 6-8pm at Katz JCC.
The month long exhibit is open during the JCC’s normal operation hours: Monday – Thursday, 5:30am – 10:00pm; Friday, 5:30am – 6:00pm; Saturday & Sunday, 7:00am – 5:00pm. Katz JCC is located at 501 N Jerome Avenue Margate, NJ 08402.
Wyatt Gallery, a native of Philadelphia and past adjunct-professor at the University of Pennsylvania, received his BFA from NYU Tisch School of The Arts in 1997 and is the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship, the PDN 30, and the ICP Infinity Award. He has published four books and his photographs are in numerous public and private collections such as the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the George Eastman House, American Express, and Comcast. His work has been reviewed in The New Yorker and featured in Esquire, Departures, Condé Nast Traveler, The New York Times, and Oprah’s OWN Network, amongst others.
Gallery’s past books Tent Life: Haiti and #SANDY have successfully raised over $60,000 to support communities affected by natural disasters. Wyatt is represented by Foley Gallery and Redux Pictures in New York City.
For more information on the Milton & Betty Katz Jewish Community Center, visit www.jccatlantic.org. For more information about “Jewish Treasures of the Caribbean,” contact Katz JCC Special Events Coordinator, Melissa Vola at 609-822-1167 ext. 159.