The Jews of New York City were rather late in establishing Jewish institutions such as poorhouses, homes for orphans and the aged, and hospitals. Several attempts were made in the years prior to 1850, but they failed due to the small size of the New Jewish community, which in 1836 numbered only about 2,000 and increased to about 7,000 in 1840.
It was not easy to maintain tradition and religious observance in the sparsely settled American colonies.
"The twenty-three Jews who sailed into New Amsterdam harbor on a September day in 1654 were to found the first Jewish community in what is today the United States.
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.
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.’
Places like Barbados, Curacao, Jamaica, Tobago, the Lesser Antilles, and St. Eustatia probably conjure up, in the minds of many Jewish Press readers, visions of vacation resorts.
Little has been written about the lives of Jewish women during colonial times. In general, historians have focused on the lives of men who were noteworthy during that era, primarily because more information is available about men who were publicly active than women who, more often than not, devoted the majority of their efforts to the home scene.
To further improve his English, my father would listen carefully to President Roosevelt's speeches on the radio to pick up the nuances of well-spoken English pronunciation.
The previous two columns discussed kashrus and bris milah observance in America during the 19th century. The trend was that until about 1860 most Jews were careful to observe these mitzvos. However, in the latter part of the century many Jews abandoned keeping kosher both at home and in public. Bris milah, though, was generally observed throughout the entire century.
During the latter part of 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, many European Jews viewed America as a treife medina (a non-kosher land) from the perspective of traditional Jewish religious observance. It was felt that it was virtually impossible to remain observant in America, and many Jews proved this was indeed the case, as they or their children abandoned much of their religious practices once they arrived in this country.
The ship’s captain apparently respected the Friedenwalds’ strict adherence to halacha because he allowed them to use his cabin for davening and other religious observances.
Last month we sketched the life of Manuel Josephson (1729-1796), who immigrated to New York in the 1740s. Manuel was one of the few learned Jews residing in America in the 18th century. His talents were recognized by Congregation Shearith Israel, and he served on the synagogue’s bet din for several years and as its parnas (president) in 1762. He earned his living as a merchant.
In the late 1800's and early 1900's America was called the treifa medina by many religious Jews living in Eastern Europe.
As this is our third column on the Reverend Dr. Henry Pereira Mendes, we’ll begin with a summary of his life.
The newly arrived immigrants as well as some of the native American Jews refused to send their children to secular schools permeated with Christian influences.
The mid-1760s marked changes in the direction of Myers’s personal life and business affairs.
In a recent front-page essay (May 30, 2008) and in last month's "Glimpses" column we traced the life of Rabbi Jacob Joseph (1840-1902). Rabbi Joseph, who studied in the famed Volozhiner Yeshiva, was an outstanding Talmudic scholar and one of Rav Yisroel Salanter's main students.
“Simple, modest, altogether unassuming, Gershom spent his happiest hours with his ever-growing family who were never far from his thoughts.
To celebrate this victory Hazzan Pinto wrote a special prayer that was read in Shearith Israel in October 1760.
For centuries Jews have believed America to be a land of freedom and financial opportunity. One such Jew was Moses Raphael Levy, who achieved tremendous financial success as an American colonial merchant.
Naphtali Phillips, the ninth child of Rebecca Machado and Jonas Phillips, was born in New York on October 19, 1773. His great-grandfather was Dr. Samuel Nunes Ribeiro, an escapee from the Portuguese Inquisition1 who became one of the first Jewish settlers of Savannah, GA.2 His maternal grandparents were Zipporah Nunes and David Mendes Machado.3 David Machado also escaped from the Inquisition in Portugal and served for a number of years as the chazzan and Torah teacher of Congregation Shearith Israel in New York.
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.”
In 1787 Jonas wrote a letter to Congress asking that the federal Constitution guarantee religious liberty in the state of Pennsylvania.
When the Turkish government issued a prohibition against selling property to Jews in Palestine, Hirschensohn’s financial situation deteriorated, and he left the country to secure a stable livelihood.
The bolder women joined in the fight and for some time there was a lively hair pulling in the street.
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.
In the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries Jews in America did not face the level of discrimination encountered by their brothers and sisters living in other lands.
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.
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.
In 1749 the Jews of Charleston, South Carolina established their first synagogue, Kahal Kodesh Beis Elokim (KKBE). Last month we examined the events that led some members of KKBE to establish The Reformed Society of Israelites.