Rabbi Avromy and Sternie Super recently opened Chabad of St. Lucia in the idyllic island nation nestled among the Windward Islands at the eastern edge of the Caribbean Sea.
The Supers, who first visited in December 2017, have begun to assemble an eclectic Jewish community of locals, snowbirds and tourists. Their posting was formally announced at the International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Women Emissaries in New York.
“Historically, there was never a Jewish community here,” says Avromy Super. “So there’s this real sense that we’re building something new.”
The island nation has attracted foreign business and investment, especially in banking, but for the most part, its economy is based on tourism and the local banana industry.
He estimates that about 200 Jewish residents live on the island at least part of the year, with tens of thousands of Jewish vacationers passing through St. Lucia annually.
With its capital of Castries, the island covers a land area of more than 200 square miles and has a population of about 180,000 and growing.
On an island where all roads eventually lead to the sea, the Supers have found people interested in joining Chabad’s activities simply by walking the sun-drenched streets.
“Every day, we meet new Jews that tell us despite coming to St. Lucia every year for years, even decades, they thought they were the only Jews here,” says Sternie Super. “We’re introducing these people to their neighbors, building a community from the ground up.”
The Supers have tapped into the island vibe in crafting their programming. In addition to Torah classes and Shabbat meals, they host weekly barbecues that have been attended by 30 or so people. Sternie even uses her shopping at the local market with friends she’s made in the community as an opportunity to bond and teach.
“People come here for a few weeks or months, and all they do is go to the beach; the range of experiences on the island can be very limited,” she says. “Chabad offers something fresh and exciting. It’s so outside of what they expected to see and do in St. Lucia.”
Chabad of St. Lucia is under the auspices of Rabbi Mendel Zarchi of Chabad of Puerto Rico, the point person for Judaism in the Caribbean, and made possible in part through the generosity of the Gad brothers, the owners of Diamonds International.