Our new shul
In the mid-1980s the Ashkenazic Congregation sold the synagogue building it had consecrated in 1959. This was because the once prestigious and lucrative area, Scharloo, where it had been located (Scharlooweg 39-41), began to deteriorate and more and more Ashkenazi Jews were moving east from Punda to the newly built suburban areas adjacent to it.
Following this move services were held temporarily in a former private home of one of the members of the congregation located in the residential neighborhood of Mahaai (Lelieweg 1A) and close to most members’ homes.
From the onset, on the community’s agenda was to build a new synagogue in the new residential area of Mahaai. The congregation even purchased the intended piece of property for that purpose but for various reasons this temporary move lasted far more then originally planned.
Moving the Torahs from Lelieweg 1A to the new shul
It was not until June 10, 2006 that the long awaited dream finally came true. This date and the three years of painstaking, strenuous and challenging work that lead to it, probably mark the most momentous and significant years in the modest history of the Ashkenazic Jewish community since its members stood at the cradle of its inception.
The awakening and rejuvenation of this almost expired craving came about through one young man’s vision and unique capacities; the then newly appointed rabbi of Shaarei Tsedek, Ariel Yeshurun.
On September 2000, at an age of 24 years, Rabbi Ariel Yeshurun came to us with his wife Ruhama and small family of one child from Israel.
They initially came for a short contract with plans to serve for just a few years. Little did the community know that the consecutive years will prove to yield some of the most engaging and stimulating experiences the congregation ever had.
The big moment: Signing
The long and winding road that lead rabbi Yeshurun to so successfully achieving, almost single handedly, this mammoth of a project, is primarily due to his solid personality, genuine charm and wonderful charisma. The rabbi envisioned and enthusiastically inspired the revival of the project, and through relentless and persistent efforts he meticulously saw it through and orchestrated every stage of the process. His exceptional talent for fundraising and profound understanding of people made the community’s dream of many years a reality.
The rabbi was able to generate the entire sum necessary to build a complete facility, and while under normal circumstances at least partial bank financing would be expected, especially considering the magnitude of such a project and the small size of the community, through his intense fundraising campaign, rabbi Yeshurun delivered a debt free building.
Today we proudly present what has been marveled as an architectural masterpiece.
One amazing feature is the huge transparent dome which serves as the entire roof of the sanctuary. The magnificence of the striking clear blue sky is simply awe inspiring.
A TRIBUTE TO THE RABBI
Most recently, as a token of the congregation’s deep appreciation to rabbi Yeshurun, and his monumental work during the past eight years in so many areas of community and Jewish life, the congregation decided to bestow upon him the title of Rabbi Emeritus. Following is an excerpt from the speech delivered by the president of the congregation on Rosh Hashanah 2008: “…Rabbi, I wish to make a public announcement in your honor and there is no better time to do so than today before the sounding of the Shofar. Rabbi, you have been with us for over eight years, the longest tenure by any stretch, and I have chosen this date, to have the privilege to award you with the title of Rabbi Emeritus of the Shaarei Tsedek community. It is a title you well deserve rabbi. This is the house of worship you built; this is the shul you toiled so much for. You have forever changed the landscape of this community in so many ways. You touched the soul of our people and lead us so gracefully for almost a decade. You are an eternal part of the mesh of this congregation and so, rabbi, although this title will only be in effect when you leave us, nevertheless, one day, when it is your time to embark on your next journey, your lasting impressions will outlive us all as your deeds and influence will have a share in immortality. Our children are the testimony of your greatness, and we, the people, are ever so fortunate to have you with us.”
Planning is underway for an exclusive visit to Curacao by Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Yonah Metzger. The Chief Rabbi will honor and pay tribute to Rabbi Yeshurun and his wife Ruhama for their paramount and extraordinary contribution to the proliferation and enhancement of Jewish identity in the Diaspora. This visit, which has been confirmed by the Chief Rabbi’s office, will be a historic milestone and landmark achievement for this small community; one which will resonate for generations to come.
Many of the Ashkenaic Jews who dreamed of erecting a new shul were no longer alive to witness the initiative bear fruit but, nevertheless, their immortal contribution was transmitted to us through their pioneering spirit and perseverance. For if not for that belief and determination, we would not have had the strength to be so optimistic and willing. If not for their careful and loving conservation of our traditions, Jewish continuity would have been at risk. The old timers, those who were always there for the minyan, those who were ever so ready to participate and promote Jewish causes, are the ones who are the true contributors of the new shul and of keeping alive the desire we had for building a beautiful house of worship.
Rabbi Yeshurun with Herman and Miriam Tauber
While many participated financially in this project two families are of noteworthy mention for their outstanding measure of dedication and monetary commitment towards this goal; Herman and Miriam Tauber and Mrs. Janina de Marchena-Katz.
The Taubers have done lots of philanthropic work in both the United States and in Israel and they are well received by many dignitaries in the Israeli government.
Herman Tauber arrived in Curacao as a young boy of 13 years. He left Poland alone before the war to join his older brother, Leon, who was already on the island at that time. From very humble beginnings they painstakingly built a future which later on became a financial empire. Herman met his wife, Miriam,who was a survivor of the war, in New-York and they continued their future in Curacao where they had their three children Paulette, Irwin and Suzy.
It was Herman and Miriam’s great benevolence and supreme charitable kindness that enabled us to stride forward and further inspire others to contribute. They stand out as the financial corner stone of the new synagogue, which has been named in their honor “The Herman and Miriam Tauber Jewish Center.”
Mrs. Janina de Marchena-Katz is a very special woman who has financially committed herself to the project from the very beginning. A survivor of WWII, she struggled with the challenges of life presented after the war. With practically no family left she somehow found the inner strengths to build a new life for herself in Curacao. Here she prospered and became a very capable business woman. Today she keeps on being a source of inspiration and generosity in the community.
THE BUILDING COMMITTEE
Every project must have a strong team of devoted and motivated people. The new Shaarei Tsedek building was most fortunate to have as its building committee chairman, a very dynamic and dedicated person, Mr. Lazaro Grysnztein.
Lazaro, a past board member and very active congregant, together with a few other members formed a committee which oversaw every detail pertaining to the construction. The scope of the committee was tremendous and the work was exhausting. It handled everything from design to execution and did a magnificent job. Of special noteworthiness is the treasurer of the committee, Mr. Saul Suchar for his hard work keeping the books up to date.
All the above efforts, blended with lots of encouragement and belief, were essential and ultimately combined to produce our beautiful shul.