Identity among Local Descendants of Early Jewish Settlers in Tahiti, Tonga, and Hawai’i
By the mid-19th century there were three key kingdoms in Polynesia: Hawai’i (annexed by the U.S. in 1898; conferred statehood in 1959), Tahiti (annexed by the Republic of France in 1880; conferred collectivity status within French Polynesia in 2003), and Tonga, which remains a sovereign kingdom. Between 1841 and World War I, Tahiti attracted three permanent European Jewish settlers, Tonga three, and Hawai’i perhaps some 100 (typically more transitory) Jewish settlers from both Europe and the U.S. Descendants of these pioneers survive in Tahiti and Tonga as either Christian or New Age; in Hawai’i, however, only four of the early Jewish families have been locally located, each identifying Christian. Yet despite Christian or New Age affiliation, some descendants reveal palpable connection to modern Jewish culture. The article assesses the intensity of these connections.
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