Like hundreds of thousands of cruise passengers each year, we spent the better part of one day in Aruba back in April 2014 while our ship was in port. We had just been to Curacao and had visited its famous sand-floor synagogue, so we jumped to the (false) conclusion that Aruba, a tiny, essentially sun-sand-and-surf destination with a population of only 100,000, wouldn't be home to much of a Jewish community, let alone a synagogue. But this past autumn, when we were planning our winter sojourn, how wonderfully amazed we were to discover that not only did Aruba have a synagogue, but a full-time resident Rabbi as well! That surprising discovery sealed the deal for us; this is where we'd "winter" and, lo and behold, this is where we are!
Aruba has an extensive Jewish history, dating from the 18th century. In 1962 the community got together to build a fine, modern Temple near downtown Oranjestad. The Rabbi is Argentinian Daniel Kripper and as we've been happy to discover, he's quite a scholar. The good Rabbi and his wife, Flora, have hosted us for Shabbat dinner and taken us to their favorite beach on more than one occasion. Synagogue members who live nearby have graciously driven us to services each and every Friday night. The services have been delightful with spirited singing that resounds off the sanctuary walls. The volunteer Hazzan is a police inspector with a booming voice and a hug-friendly personality. The Temple president, former Director of the Aruba National Park Service, even took us around the entire island on tour.
We'll be back home for a brief fortnight (two weeks) and then it's another cruise aboard the MS. Maasdam for Passover in the South Pacific. We'll be at sea for my 70th birthday so I'm sure the Indonesian wait staff will sing happy birthday to me in their native tongue. Then it's back home for the start of yet another senior softball season. Life is Good.
Bon Dia from Downtown Oranjestad, Aruba