Shalom Life | July 01, 2014

Shalom, Nicaragua: A Jewish Culture Guide

Although the Jewish community in Nicaragua is small in numbers, it is proud and strong. After so many decades of exile, it is gradually beginning to rebuild itself. Nicaragua is certainly worth the visit.

By: Sarah Bauder

Published: May 27th, 2014 in Culture » Society » News

Shalom, Nicaragua: A Jewish Culture Guide

And we’re off, to anywhere and everywhere, as we say ‘Shalom’ every week to different global travel destination. World cities, provincial towns, and even the most unassuming of suburbs are infused with Jewish history and culture, some of which is waiting to be discovered.

For the pious follower, the curious traveler, or the intrepid adventurer, we’ll unearth the best of what to do and where to go. Be it an emerging subculture, a historical landmark, or simply a triumph of art in any form, Jewish experiences are found around the world; and likely as well in your backyard.

It may be in the destination, the journey, or the company, but there is much to uncover and celebrate near and far, so hurry up and get going.

Shalom, Nicaragua


Unfortunately, there is a dearth of information regarding the history of the Jewish community in Nicaragua.

It can be traced back to Eastern European Jews who immigrated to the Central American country after 1929. Thereafter, the population peaked at an estimated 250 individuals. For the next four decades or so, the majority of Nicaraguan Jews resided in the capital, Managua. During this time, the country was ruled by the family dictatorship of the Somozas. In 1972, a devastating earthquake struck Managua, killing 6,000, injuring 20,000, and leaving an additional 250,000 homeless. Rather than using the international relief funds that poured in to assist his countrymen, Somoza pilfered the money. Consequently, immense dissatisfaction towards the regime arose.

In 1979, the left-wing socialist Sandinista National Liberation Front took power, and most Jews fled after the revolution. However, the Sandinistas government persecuted the remaining Jewish population, for instance, taking possession of the Congregacion Israelita de Nicaragua Jewish school and turning it into a secular institution. Both the Women’s International Zionist Organization, and B’nai Brith Center remained open. During the Sandinistas time in power, roughly ten Jews lived in Nicaragua.

In 1990, the Sandinista government was voted out of power in democratic elections. As a result, Jewish expatriates slowly began returning to Nicaragua. and the community began rebuilding itself. Today there are an estimated 50 Jews that live in the country. Most reside in either Managua, or the coastal city of Granada. Managua has both a synagogue and cemetery. In 2007, one Chana Sorhagen 90, of Morristown, New Jersey, gifted a new Torah scroll to the community. It ought to be stated, that Sorhagen had never visited Nicaragua.


“In August I got the divine inspiration to get a sefer Torah, but not for an area that already has one. If you open your eyes, you will see the hand of God is in this. My wish for you is this Holy Scripture inspires you to live a Jewish life,” Ms. Sorhagen said over the phone during the celebration in 2007.

“Once we have a lot, I know there are many communities that can help us build our religious, community and social center. We’ll get there,” explained community president, Eddy Translateur.

Although the Jewish community in Nicaragua is small in numbers, it is proud and strong. After so many decades of exile, it is gradually beginning to rebuild itself. Nicaragua is certainly worth the visit.

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