Yabinan

This tin box with keys in it was a precious possession of the grandmother of Michèle Russel-Capriles. The Capriles, Henriquez, Alvarez Correa families are of Sephardic Jewish descent, and represent one of the many population groups that settled on the island throughout the centuries. The roots of the Jewish community of Curacao lie in Spain and Portugal. After having fled the Spanish inquisition in 1492 they ended up in Curaçao after wandering through the Netherlands and Brazil.

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2:27 min

"The reason they took their keys was either because they had hopes that they would come back and they would be able to reclaim their homes"

- Michèle Russel-Capriles

My name is Michèle Russel-Capriles, I brought today a small tin box full of keys. This is a tin box that I found in my grandmother’s belongings and I kept because there’s a legend behind her collection of keys. It’s a worldwide legend that the people in Spain when they were ousted before 1499 – they were ousted by the Inquisition, they were told to either convert to Catholicism or leave the country – the Jewish people in Salamanca, in Toledo, in various other cities in Spain decided to close up their houses and take their keys along with them. And the reason they took their keys was either because they had hopes that they would come back and they would be able to reclaim their homes or in any case if they were leaving they weren’t going to leave their keys for their oppressors to just take over their homes. So they took these keys with them and the feeling that I got after that was that my grandmother decided to take this to another level and kept all keys of all family members of all homes and everything that she could find throughout the years because I found hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of keys..