We recently borrowed a car from the resort to venture off to Sosua, a coastal town just east of Puerto Plata. Sosua was interesting to us because of its historical significance as a Jewish refugee town in WWII. While Trujillo was busy killing Haitians in the late 1930s, he offered to accept 100,000 Jewish immigrants. Most historians think that his goal was to draw attention away from his massacres, with a secondary purpose of “whitening” the Dominican people. Somewhere between 600 and 800 Jews received visas and settled in Sosua. Most Dominican Jews (~400) now live in Santo Domingo, but ~25 live in Sosua today.
We had the address of one of those 25, but we found out when we got to Sosua that he had died less than one month prior – at the age of 101. We did find the Jewish museum and synagogue in Sosua, but to give you an idea of the state of Sosua’s Jewish community, the museum is run by a Catholic woman and was closed during our visit. (Annoyingly, this is the DR and attractions that would have websites in the States never do here. At Amy’s behest, we scaled the fence and looked around the grounds anyway.) Most of the Jews currently in Sosua are owners of the city’s factories and hotels, and many of Sosua’s streets are named after Ashkenazi Jews.
Two other funny/fun anecdotes:
First, while in the El Batey district we watched a little league Yankees vs. Red Sox game. We ran into some players walking home after the game and Jay mentioned to them that we live close to Yankee Stadium. That immediately led to the kids going crazy and making us take this picture:
As a final hurrah, we – totally coincidentally – walked by our scuba dive center! They showed us their equipment (Jay liked the compressor, as he does most big machines) and invited us to complete our pool sessions while we were there. After a few minutes of discussion we accepted, suited up, and completed our pool practicum. Three more dives before heading home!
PS – The Dominican Republic is terrible at fixing its roads. Driving is crazy, and we’re from New York. You’re constantly swerving to go around huge potholes, and the highway is home to people, motorbikes, animals, trucks, and cars varying from 1960s beaters to 2011 Hummers. Click on the picture below and enlarge it to see what we’re talking about.
Finally, Amy wanted this picture in. Jay’s mother makes excellent schnitzel and we’re both craving it. (Hint hint, mom…)
posted by jayhorowitz and amybetho