The Lindos are one of the two great Jewish dynasties in the past thousand years of world history, ranking only with the Rothschilds. The Rothschilds are Ashkenasim, rising first to importance in Germany and then dominating the financial world of France, Britain and Italy. The Lindos are the most renowned of all Sephardic Jewish families. They rose to prominence in Spain in the 15th century, and have since that time enormously influenced the economic and cultural life of the Netherlands, Italy, Britain, Costa Rica, Israel, Canada, the Caribbean, and in some ways the whole world.
My ancestors left the land of Israel about forty-five generations ago in ships of Tarshish and settled in a small area of what is now south-western Spain. For hundreds of years, all these Jewish families, which later spread all over the Caribbean, developed a rich culture in Spain.
During the six centuries of Muslim rule, 750–1350CE, many members of my family were not just wealthy merchants and business people, but became doctors, teachers, mathematicians, writers, scientists, and even high government officials. But in the year 1391, after the Christians defeated the Muslims, many were massacred, and in the city of Badajoz between 1492 and1499 more than two hundred were burnt alive. Our family has always responded to these pressures by having children in biblical abundance. My great-great-great grandfather Alexandre Lindo, who lived in Peter’s Lane in Kingston [Jamaica – Ed], had twenty-two legitimate children, six by his first wife Hannah, and sixteen by his second wife Esther. My greatgrandfather Menachem, had ten children by his wife Grace, and my own father, John Lindo, begat at least twelve of us. And most of these Jewish patriarchs had their concubines as well!
One thing the Lindos have always been noted for is a stubborn refusal to renounce their Jewish nationality and the hope of Israel, however severe the persecution. A cousin of mine, Tony Lindo, retired CEO of Scotiabank, is “ruler of the synagogue” in Kingston. A few weeks ago he escorted Loui Farrakhan to his synagogue during the latter’s official visit to Jamaica. I am the first Lindo in my direct line for two thousand years to accept Jesus as the Messiah.
Beside producing new Lindos, my forbears have survived and flourished by the traditional Jewish strategy of moving around. At least one Lindo sailed with Columbus to the West Indies, and the Admiral named a cape after him. After 1492, when the family was finally expelled from Spain, Lindos in my direct ancestral line lived and made fortunes in Portugal, the Canary Islands, Venice, Amsterdam, London, Barbados, Costa Rica, Canada, and of course, Jamaica.
They all had the Jewish penchant for putting their hands and minds to anything that looked like it would prosper. Abraham (1711–1808) was a diamond cutter. David (1833–1889) was a chemist in Falmouth (Jamaica) who invented the Lindo- Sladding process which is still used worldwide in the manufacture of fertilizer. As a teenager in Jamaica, Cecil (1870–1950) is said to have owned only a bicycle and was packed off to Costa Rica by his parents for falling in love with a Gentile. He founded the great banana empire that became the United Fruit Company, and by his mid-twenties was exporting five million stems of bananas a year, beside vast quantities of coffee and sugar. Roy Lindo (1910–1962), after whom I am named, was a tycoon with financial tentacles in every corner of Jamaica. He and his family lived at Terra Nova (now a hotel), and owned great houses all over Jamaica, including magnificent Devon House, Strawberry Hill (also now a hotel), and Odnil (Lindo backwards) which is now the famous Bob Marley Museum in Kingston.
My great-great grandfather, Abraham Alexander Lindo (1775–1849) is of great interest to me as a Christadelphian. In the early 19th century, Jews all over the world were struggling to re-define their identity. Under the enormous pressures of persecution, they were giving up their historical consciousness and trying to blend socially and culturally into their host societies, projecting themselves as merely a religion but not a nation. The Lindos would have none of it. Abraham Lindo made a great stir among worldwide Jewry with his speeches demanding the full right of Israeli nationhood.
Though presently without a country or temporal prince, we are as completely a nation as when first established as such, for we acknowledge ourselves now as then, as being under the immediate government of the Sovereign of the Universe… We are a despised people, living in hope of one day being restored to our country, but as no man knoweth the time of our return to Zion, we have long felt, and it has been commanded us so to feel by our God, that the peace and prosperity of any country which shelters and protects us is entitled to our prayers. The Jews must remain an instrument for the redemption of mankind.
It seems God used the Lindos to further His plan and purpose with His land and ancient people. More than one hundred years after those prophetic words were uttered, they were dramatically fulfilled in 1948 as the nation state of Israel took its seat at the United Nations.
Around that time, I was living in the Maxfield Avenue area of Kingston, and some Jehovah’s Witnesses started calling at the home. They were trained to be very persuasive, and I started some studies with them.
At this point Providence intervened. We met Hugh Tingle, who was a Christadelphian, a religion which we had not heard of before. He was partially deaf and not much of a talker, but like Paul, what he did say was “weighty and powerful”. He invited us to some regular Bible classes he was holding with two other Christadelphians, Bernard Lloyd and Sheila Edwards. We gave up studying with the JWs and began to take an interest in Hugh’s biblical faith. It took a lot of persuasion for me to join them. Eventually an ecclesia was started with about fifteen members, including most of my friends. I obeyed the call to follow Christ on July 28, 1957. From the point of view of my Jewish forbears, I was now a “dead man”. But in truth I was alive unto God.
I invited a young friend to our Bible classes who was a confirmed Roman Catholic. Over many months of quiet scriptural discussion and encouragement his obduracy melted into submission, and Brother Sydney Tomlinson was born again in Christ. He was a truly great-hearted brother, beloved by all, spiritually wise far beyond his years. His exhortations were the fruit of hours of prayerful meditation, and always deeply moving expositions of the Word. Tragically, he fell asleep in Christ after only a few years in the Faith.
My wife, Sister Mavis, followed me to newness of life in January 1975, but our children, though at one time keen Sunday school scholars and youth circlers, have not yet seen their way to obey the truth, though like all their forbears they have prospered well in their chosen professions.