About a year ago I wrote an article about Costa Rica’s museums. In it I mentioned the seldom visited Insect Museum of Costa Rica. There is another unique museum that provides a unique cultural experience and is rarely visited by foreigners and retirees .
The Costa Rican Jewish Museum in Pavas is a place in San José where you can learn all about the Jewish people. It was founded in 2005 to provide the opportunity to find about Jewish culture and history and dispel any myths some may have about the religion. Many of the customs of the Jewish people are a complete mystery to people. The museum purpose is not for spreading religious views but to provide a comprehensive tour through Jewish history and culture, the arrival of the Jews in Costa Rica and the Holocaust.
At the museum you can lean about the Torah (The first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures) and other Jewish customs like the circumcision of children and marriage ceremonies in which the man promises to treat the woman like a queen. There is also a room where you can view the atrocities committed against the Jews during World War II. While touring the museum you can see photos of early Jewish immigrants in Costa Rica who mainly came from Poland. This explains why the word “polaco” (Polish) is often used when referring to Jewish people in Costa Rica.
Around the time of World War II a large number Jews immigrated to Costa Rica. Originally most worked in agriculture but they soon became involved in a variety of business endeavors. Now they own banks, automobile agencies, shoe store chains, department stores and many other successful businesses. Many Jews are renowned professionals like architects, lawyers, doctors and dentists. They have also played a prominent role in the country’s political scene. The country’s current vice-president, Luis Lieberman, is Jewish. As you can see the Jewish people have played a prominent role in making Costa Rica the great country that it is today.
Admission to the Costa Rican Jewish museum is free but you need to make an appointment in advance and say who will be accompanying you, as well as provide everyone’s cédula number or passport and a phone number where you can be reached. The museum is located next to the water company AyA in Pavas, not far from the Sabana Park. The telephone number is 2520-1013 extension 5. For more information see their website at: www.museojudiocr.tk
If you are Jewish and thinking of retirement in Costa Rica you should have no problem making friends and fitting in here. There are synagogues where you can worship and meet people of the same faith. If you have children there is even a Jewish school. Kosher foods are also available.
Costa Rica has religious freedom and most of the other religions are represented here and having their own houses of worship.