Following the Evian conference in 1938, a time when openings for Jewish refugees were hard to find, the government of the Dominican Republic offered to resettle up to 100,000 Jews. Sosúa, an abandoned banana plantation on the north coast of the island, would become a refuge to hundreds of Jews. The settlers were given resources to cultivate the land they were provided, and built a thriving town — one that still exists today. The story of this Jewish settlement founded in 1940 will be the subject of a new exhibition created in conjunction with the Sosúa Jewish Museum.
The exhibition will tell how the settlers were recruited and came to Sosúa, what awaited them there, what role the Dominican and U.S. governments and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee played in the story, how the settlers worked with their Dominican neighbors to establish themselves, and what kind of a town they created. Sosúa speaks poignantly to a shared Dominican and Jewish story.
On view February 17-July 25, 2008, the exhibition can be seen in the Museum's Overlook Gallery.
How You Can Help
DO YOU HAVE ARTIFACTS? The Museum is looking for material, either as a loan or donation, relating to the experience of Jewish settlers in the Sosúa colony.
ITEMS OF INTEREST
- Clothing, hats, and footwear used by the settlers;
- Tools, containers, saddles and horse trappings, and work implements from the farms or the industrial shops that were established;
- Household items;
- Signs, posters, or any other public notices;
- Letters to and from relatives and friends living elsewhere, and other personal papers;
- Gifts to or from the settlers, mementos;
- Items of any kind, but especially items of Judaica that were brought to Sosúa;
- Items manufactured in Sosúa;
- Any kind of official documents or travel documents — identification cards, passports, Kennkarten, immigration papers, ship or rail tickets, etc.;
- Other personal items; and
If you have items of interest or you know the names and whereabouts of members of the extended Sosúa family (including the children and grandchildren of the settlers) who might possess some of this material, please contact the exhibition curator.
Host the Exhibition
The Sosúa Project will be designed to be a travelling exhibition. If you are interested in bringing the exhibition to your institution starting in Fall 2008, please contact:
State Senator Eric Schneiderman's Office
American Jewish Congress
American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
CUNY Dominican Studies Institute
Members of the press click here to learn more about the Museum.
Preserving 60 Years Worth of Archives
Several years ago, the Sosúa Jewish Museum rescued a large cache of materials relating to the early years of the Sosúa community; the documents had been abandoned to dampness, insects, mold, and other indignities. But it wasn't until 2004, when New York Senator Eric Schneiderman and Viven Weissman of the American Jewish Congress approached the Museum of Jewish Heritage — A Living Memorial to the Holocaust with the idea of doing an exhibition with the Sosúa Jewish Museum, that the materials received the attention they required. Before the materials could be examined for inclusion in the exhibition or used for research, they needed to be sorted, cleaned and identified.
After investigating the state of the records, the Museum of Jewish Heritage arranged for a paper conservator to visit the Sosúa Jewish Museum, and then for an archivist to clean and arrange the materials. The result transformed the archival holdings. All of the material was examined, assessed, and reorganized into logical groups. It was then re-housed in special conservation-friendly, acid-free containers that had been shipped to Sosúa from the U.S., and arranged systematically on steel shelving in the reconfigured space, which had been cleaned and better sealed. Finally, a finding aid was created, describing the new groups of material, what each group contained, and the quantities of various documents in each group. The material was now ready to be used for future research and for the exhibition.