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Centro Israelita Sionista de Costa Rica

Apartado Postal 1473-1000,

San Jose,

Tel. 506 233 9222,

Fax 506 223 5801 [May 2001]


San Jose's synagogue, Shaarei Zion, is served by a rabbi, a burial society, and a Jewish cemetery. Chabad. [October 2005]

Centro Israelita Sionista de Costa Rica (Conservative) just north of Paseo Colón on Calle 22 and B'nei Israel (Liberal) in Sabana Oeste. (located off the Carretera a Pavos in San José; 506-2520-1013) is the oldest and largest Jewish resource in the country. [August 2005]

Congregation B'nei Israel, Carretera vieja a Escazú (506-2231-5243; Reform). [July 2012]

On April 15th 1575, seventy-three years after Columbus saw the Limón coast, two ships left Spain with the governor, Diego de Artieda Chirinos, and 336 Sephardim. Indians subdued, Chirinos hoped to colonize immediately, but he received no property titles until 1579. Chirinos' jurisdiction stretched from the San Juan River in the north to the territories of Veragua, Panama and from the Tempisque River  west to the Chiriquí Viejo River, Panama. The poverty in which the captaincy of Guatemala held the province of Costa Rica as well as Galician religious persecution worked against colonization. The Marranos feared living in groups lest they become target for the Inquisition. With the passing years and lack of unity, the colonists scattered; some even taking Indian wives.

18th century Jews from Jamaica involved in an illegal cocoa trade with Cartago joined the second group, Sefardic descendants of Spanish and Portugese Jews from the Netherlands or Dutch Brazil and later Curaçao, Jamaica, Panama, and St Thomas. These Portuguese Jewish merchant  families such as Maduro, Robles, Piza, Sasso, and Chumaceiro lived in the Central Valley in Cartago, San Jose, Cartago, Puntarenas, and Port Limon, most eventually abandoning Judaism. Sephardi Jews also arrived in Costa Rica from Panama, which remained their religious focus.

Turkish and East European Jew reached Costa Rica post-World War I and were followed after 1933 by German refugees. Most Jewish Costa Ricans today trace their history to a Polish village, Zelechow. The majority of the Jewish population lives in the Central Valley in San Jose, Santa Ana, and Escazu.

Some Sephardic families buried their dead in Panama. Source Jewish cemeteries are found in San Jose. San Jose's Foreigners Cemetery probably is the burial site of Sephardim prior to and after Ashkenazi presence in Costa Rica. A Jewish cemetery exists in "Santa Ana, a town about 20 km from San Jose. The few burials are Ashkenazi.

Some Ashkenazi and Sephardic burials are in private cemeteries and Montesacro." source?


Costa Rica Jewish Community Museum [July 2012] [July 2005]

Jewish Virtual Library [August 2005]

JCPA [August 2005]

Sephardic Studies in Costa Rica [August 2005]

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