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Education | History Jodensavanne | The Jodensavanne Village

The Jodensavanne Village

Samuel Cohen Nassy can be indicated as founder of Jodensavanne for several reasons: he donated a part of his land to the Jewish community to develop Jodensavanne; he was the first member of the Jewish nation to be appointed “Jurator” – and thus becoming the first Jewish notary in the western hemisphere. He was also the one responsible for the establishment of the village’s first school in 1677. When Samuel was appointed in 1684, the governor referred to them as “not having found in the colony a more able, sensible and reasonable man. The Jewish civil army - strong 84 men - under command of Samuel Nassy, successfully defended the colony, by beating the French squadron of buccaneer Du Casse at Fort Zeelandia in 1689.

In 1691 Governor Van Scharphuizen issued a title-deed or “warrande”, giving the Nation an additional 100 acres community land to (formally) establish Jodensavanne as a village. The planters lived on their own estates along the river, but Jodensavanne was the focal point of the Jewish community. Here they established their Synagogue, court, schools, and probably many other public services such as a market, blacksmith’s shops and carpentry shops. Many of the planters owned a house at the Savanna. The community also had its own physicians and orphanage. David Cohen Nassy gave the following description in the Essai Historique:

"The village where one can find houses laid out on a regular grid, measures 450 ft to 300 ft, and is divided by four roads. The houses on the corners of the squares are large and comfortable, though of mediocre architecture, still reflecting the soberness of our ancestors. However, some are quite beautiful. The houses, with a rear view on the two valleys and the river, and each with a small vegetable garden on the hillside, provide a pleasant view to the eye, when approaching the village from the river.
In the centre of this square one can find the Synagogue, built of brick in the year 1685; It has a length of 90 feet, a width of 40 and a height of 33 feet, and has four large wooden pillars supporting the elaborately decorated wooden vault covering the building. At one side one can find an upper floor with the women's seating, and on the opposite side, in the men's department, one can find a large cabinet made of cedar wood, containing the scrolls of Law. It is a very beautiful and elaborately carved piece, crafted by an unknown master in the early years of the colony. Further, the Church contains costly tapestries and candelabras of sorts, that must have cost a small fortune to those who have donated them........."