image: Neve Shalom Synagogue

Chai Vekayam

The Neve Shalom Synagogue Chai Members Newsletter

April 2010

What an Amazing Three Months !!

Since the arrival of Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak from Los Angeles to our community in December 2009, so many positive things have happened. In this edition, we will use more photos than words to share with you some of the special events that have happened in our community:

The First Jewish Wedding in 50 Years

Photo : Rabbi Haim and the happy couple under the Canopy In front of the Neve Shalom Synagogue (December 2009))

Rabbi Haim and the happy couple under the Canopy,
In front of the Neve Shalom Synagogue (December 2009))

During his first week in Suriname, Rabbi Haim conducted the first Jewish wedding in 50 years. The couple, Leendert Herman Duijm (79 years old) and Betsy Marsan (68 years old), had waited almost five decades since their civil wedding for that day! Their six children, fourteen grandchildren and the whole community came to attend the Simchah!!
Photo : Signing the Ketubah

Signing the Ketubah

Photo : With guests

The young couple and their special guest –
Suriname’s first Lady Mrs. Venetiaan

Chanukah Celebration

Photo: Rabbi Haim and a group of youngsters <br>during the Menorah lighting ceremony

Rabbi Haim and a group of youngsters
during the Menorah lighting ceremony

On Chanukah, the Community celebrated the lighting of the big menorah in front of the synagogue and lighting many small menorahs inside the community centre.

Cemeteries Clean Up

Photo: The cemeteries clean-up

The community gathered in December for a major cleaning day of the two active cemeteries. Almost thirty people – young and old - worked the whole day cleaning the cemeteries. Everyone participated according to their ability. Since it is hard labour in a tropical environment, the kids helped with the outside cleanup, while the older ones helped with distributing cold drinks and prepared a wonderful communal lunch.

Photo: Cold drink distribution during cimetery clean-up

Photo: Cimetery

The Cemeteries Fence Project is almost Complete

Once this labour intensive clean up was accomplished, the new fences were ready to be put in place.

Photo: Cimetery fence

I thought that this major project would take years to complete as it is an extremely expensive project. But with her endless energy and drive, Lilly Duym managed to mobilize the goodwill of so many people to support this dream, both financially and physically. The city of Paramaribo donated heavy equipment and labour to clear the jungle around the cemeteries, the suppliers of all the materials sold the materials and their labour at a substantial discount or at cost, and the donors (including you, the Chai members) opened their wallets and donated above and beyond our expectations! The results are stunning – after decades of neglect, the cemeteries are now protected with a solid iron fence and gates, and look clean and respectful. Once the paint work is done, the cemeteries project will be complete. Thank you Lilly and all those involved for their great achievement!!

Giyurim - Conversions

While in Suriname, Rabbi Haim taught Judaism to a group of five young members whose mother was not Jewish. By March 1st, all had completed their Giyor!! Mazal Tov!!

Photo: Teaching candidates to conversion

Rabbi Haim teaches Jeremy van Etten
(back left) and his family before his
Giyur ceremony. Jeremy is going to
celebrate his Bar Mitzvah soon.

The Birth Right ProjectRight

Photo: A group of youngsters before the weekly Birthright class

A group of youngsters before the weekly Birthright class

For the last two months, every Sunday, a dedicated group of over 25 young adults in the 18 to 30 year old age group have gathered in the Mahamad (community centre) for two hours of classes in Judaism, Hebrew and Jewish History in preparation for a potential Birthright trip to Israel. It is the first time in their lives that they have had official Jewish education classes. Even though there is a lot of uncertainty about the trip, all are enthusiastically participating and hoping for a miracle that will enable them to take part in the August 2010 Birthright trip. The group is been taught by Rabbi Haim, Mr. Erol Abrahams and our President Shul Donk.

Hebrew Classes in Suriname

Photo: Hebrew class at the Mahamad (Community centre)

Hebrew class at the Mahamad (Community centre)

After decades of no regular Jewish education, Rabbi Haim is conducting Hebrew classes not only with our youngsters but to everyone in the community.

As you can see in the picture below, the group of about twenty adults are meeting for their classes and having lots of fun!

Special Events

I’d like to thank the Brotherhood group of Beit Rayim Synagogue in Richmond Hill, Ontario and Dr. Tony MacFarlane from Anshie Shalom Temple in Hamilton, Ontario, for inviting me to speak about the history of the Suriname Jewish community during January and February 2010.

Final Comments

The last three months have been very special to our community. It is all thanks to the love and dedication of a wonderful group of members and friends. Thank you all for your kindness and goodwill!!!

As always, I’d like to thank Lilly Duym (recent updates and photos from Suriname), Rabbi Haim for his amazing contribution in such a short period of time and to all those who are quietly helping behind the scene: Orly and Jonathon Kahane-Rapport, Dr. Steve Gomes, Kulanu Board of Directors and many more wonderful people who joined our Chai membership family!

Please let me know if you have any comments, suggestions or ideas on how to make this newsletter better. Please feel free to contact me at:

I wish you all a Kosher and Happy Seder!

As Ever,
Jacob Steinberg

Chai Vekayam (“live for the future” in Hebrew) is the newsletter for the Chai members of the Neve Shalom Synagogue in Suriname. The objective of this newsletter is to keep you informed, at least twice a year, on the recent events in the Suriname Jewish Community.