Mikve Israel-Emanuel Synagogue in Willemstad, Curacao
Interior of the Mikve Israel-Emanuel Synagogue in Willemstad, Curacao. The synagogue is the oldest in continuous use in the western hemisphere. Jews moved to Curacao in the 1650s; the current building dates from 1730. The sand floor is said to symbolize one of three things:
1. The 40 years the Jewish people spent wandering the Sinai Desert after their departure from Egypt.
2. A reminder of the Inquisition, when synagogues in Spain and Portugal were sometimes covered with sand to muffle the footsteps of Jews worshipping in secret.
3. God's promise to Abraham to multiply his seed as the sands upon the seashore.