The Jewish immigration to Puerto Rico began in the 15th century with the arrival of Crypto-Jews, or Secret Jews who accompanied Christopher Columbus on his second voyage. An open Jewish community did not flourish in Puerto Rico because Judaism was prohibited by the Spanish Inquisition, however many migrated to mountainous parts of the island, far from the central power of San Juan, and continued to self-identify as Jews and practice Crypto-Judaism.
Puerto Rican Jews have made many contributions in multiple fields, including business and commerce, education, and entertainment. Puerto Rico has the largest and richest Jewish community in the Caribbean, with over 3,000 Jewish inhabitants. It is also the only Caribbean island in which all three major Jewish denominations—Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform—are represented.
Notable Puerto Rican Jews:
- David Blaine,
- Freddie Prinze,
- Freddie Prinze Jr.,
- Nina Tassler
- Joaquin Phoenix actor, film director, musician
- Geraldo Rivera TV talk show host, reporter, attorney
- Rabbi Adolph Spiegel organized first Jewish congregation
- Louis Sulzabacher, president of the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico
- Aaron Cecil Snyder, chief justice of Supreme Court
- Ramón Mateo Tossas Escalera, alcalde de Juana Díaz rabbi, mayor
- Rabbi Gabriel Isaías Frydman, first rabbi of Shaare Zedek Temple
- Rabbi Mendel Zarchi and his wife Rachel Zarchi (Chabad Puerto Rico)
- Benjamin Melendez
The Shaare Zedek Temple, in San Juan, Puerto Rico was founded in 1953, became the first Conservative synagogue. Its name means "Gates of Justice," and was taken from a synagogue that was destroyed in Leipzig, Germany. It is headed by Rabbi Gabriel Isaías Frydman, originally from Argentina.
- Puerto Rican Jewish History Encyclopedia Judaica
- Puerto Rican Jewry
- Jewish Puerto Rico - JCC of Puerto Rico
- Jews of Puerto Rico Portal