In 1825, more than 70 years before the First Zionist Congress was held in Basel, Switzerland, Mordechai Manuel Noah startled the world by proposing a concrete plan for the establishment of a Jewish city of refuge in North America.
While it is not known precisely when Jews first settled in Baltimore, we do know that five Jewish men and their families settled there during the 1770s. However, it was not until the autumn of 1829 that Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, whose Hebrew name was Nidchei Yisroel (Dispersed of Israel), was founded. This was the only Jewish congregation in the state of Maryland at the time, and it was referred to by many as the “Stadt Shul.”
The Jewish population of the United States in 1860 was somewhere between 150,000-200,000. Approximately 3,000 Jews fought on the Confederate side in the Civil War while 7,000 were found on the Union side.
One cannot fully appreciate the life and accomplishments of Aaron Lopez (1731-1782) unless one is familiar with the history of the Inquisition.
One of the truly amazing aspects of Jewish history is that there were Jews who secretly maintained as much religious observance as they could while living under the merciless eye of the Inquisition in Spain and Portugal.
Last month we sketched the life of Reverend Dr. Sabato Morais and discussed his spiritual leadership of Congregation Mikveh Israel in Philadelphia as well as his involvement in a wide range of communal activities. Here we outline some of his many other accomplishments and describe his huge funeral.
Anyone familiar with Jewish history knows of the blood libels that have been used against Jews for centuries.
Washington, D.C. was created in 1790 as a result of a political compromise. “Washington was a Federal city. It did not have a ‘State’ government. It was under the direct control of Congress for even the simplest of things; schools, streets, courts and land use by private individuals and corporations. Accordingly, Congress dutifully passed on the last day of the first session of the 28th Congress, June 17, 1844, ‘A Bill, concerning conveyances or devices of places of public worship in the District of Columbia.’
The previous installment of Glimpses into American Jewish History (Jewish Press, Feb. 3) dealt with the life of Mordechai Manuel Noah (1785-1851). Noah, a man with an unbelievable breadth of interests and activities, was, for many years, considered theleader of the New York Jewish community.
The Gomez family was one the foremost Jewish families in New York during colonial times.
Last month we traced the establishment and development of the Jewish Community in Charleston, South Carolina, and its first synagogue, Kahal Kodesh (Holy Congregation) Beth Elokim (KKBE). From its inception in 1749 the synagogue was Orthodox and followed the Sephardic ritual. (This was the case with all of the synagogues founded during colonial times.)
Jacob da Silva Solis was born into London's Sephardic community on August 4, 1780. He referred to himself as Jacob S. Silva. Arriving in America on October 25, 1803, Jacob almost immediately affiliated with New York's Spanish-Portuguese Synagogue (Shearith Israel). On April 24, 1811, he married Charity Hays, daughter of a Westchester County farmer. They had seven children, the eldest born in 1813 and the youngest in 1827.
The debate was picked up by a number of national publications, including Isaac Leeser’s Occident.
“Throughout his life, he observed Tisha B’Ab as the Nahalah (anniversary) for all of his relatives who were murdered, as this is the national Jewish day of mourning.
In 1654 the Portuguese recaptured the city of Recife, Brazil from the Dutch. This marked the end of the vibrant Jewish community that had flourished under the Dutch beginning in 1630.
Dr. Benjamin Rush (1745-1813), a physician and a signer of the Declaration of Independence, "was the most striking, the most impressive, and the most controversial figure in North American medicine of his day. Brilliant and well educated, he was a restless soul, impatient and impulsive, quick to make decisions and to defend them against all disagreement.
Early American Jewish history is unfortunately replete with examples of observant families who came to America and, within a relatively short period of time, not only abandoned much of their commitment to religious observance but even had the sad experience of having some of their children intermarrying and assimilating. One family that did not follow this trend was the Hays family.
The story of Jacob Mayer is one of the most bizarre in the annals of American Jewish history. In order to understand how such a thing could have occurred, one must keep in mind that for many years America was a Jewish free-for-all.
In two earlier articles we traced the life and rabbinical career of Rabbi Simon Glazer until 1918. Rav Glazer was a rare individual in that he was a secularly educated European trained Orthodox Rov who spoke and wrote English fluently.
"In 1478 at the request of the Spanish sovereigns Ferdinand and Isabella, Pope Sixtus IV (1471-84) issued a papal bull allowing for the creation of the Spanish Inquisition.
There were Jews living during the nineteenth century who made substantial contributions to Yiddishkeit but who, unfortunately, are almost completely forgotten today. Their lives are at most a footnote in standard books dealing with American Jewish history. One such man was Dr. Simeon Abrahams, a pillar of the New York Jewish community during his relatively short life.
Last month’s column sketched the myriad of social programs in which the Orthodox American communal worker and leader Adolphus S. Solomons (1826-1910) was involved. Adolphus married Rachel Seixas Phillips (1828-1881), a descendant of colonial patriot families and together they had eight daughters and a son.
"[Judah] Touro's name will always be numbered among the foremost in the annals of American philanthropy. His charities knew neither race nor creed, and his public spirit was no less noteworthy."[i]
Sampson Simson was born on June 30, 1781 in Danbury, Connecticut and died January 7, 1857 in New York. Sampson's father, Solomon Simson, was also American born. Solomon was partners with his brother Sampson Simson, whom we shall refer to as Sampson the elder.
It was not easy to maintain tradition and religious observance in the sparsely settled American colonies.