Sunday, June 21, 2015

Jewish Arrival to New Amsterdam 1654

Jewish Arrival to New Amsterdam 1654


RECIFE, city in northeast Brazil, capital of the state of Pernambuco; population: 1,486,869 (2004); Jewish population estimated at 1,300.

Colonial Period

When Recife became a prosperous center for sugar production in the 16th and 17th centuries, Portuguese New Christians were already living in the city and its environs and in many regions of the Brazilian Nordeste (North East). They worked mainly in sugar production and commerce. The significant number of New Christians in Recife took part in a variety of activities, and some bound themselves through intermarriage to prestigious Old Christian families.
The Inquisition dispatched an official inspector (visitator) and an inquisitional commission was established in 1593–1595 in Olinda, the port of Recife. New Christians were tried and arrested; some were taken to Lisbon and handed over to the inquisitional tribunal. After the inspector had left, surveillance of New Christians was continued by the bishop of Brazil, with the assistance of the local clergy. Thus the New Christian Diego Fernandez, husband of Branca Dias, was accused by the Inquisition of being a "Judaizer" and of keeping an "esnorga," a secret place to pray.
Two New Christian writers lived in Recife and stood out in the colonial period with works that reveal elements of Jewish expression: Bento Teixeira, author of Prosopopéia – one of the most important Portuguese-Brazilian colonial poems – published in Lisbon on 1601, and Ambrósio Fernandes Brandão, author of Diálogos das Grandezas do Brasil, in 1618.

Dutch Period

The first organized Jewish community in Brazil was established in Recife during the period of Dutch colonial occupation (1630–1654) that brought Jews among other Dutch colonists and permitted religious freedom. The West India Company came to Brazil attracted by the sugar plantations and more than 120 engenhos (sugar mills) in Pernambuco.
In 1636–1640 the Dutch Jews founded the first Brazilian synagogue in Recife, the first on American soil: Kahal Kadosh Ẓur Israel. Later they founded the synagogue Kahal Kadosh Magen Abraham in Maurícia. Both were unified in 1648, with the signatures of 172 members both from Recife and Maurícia. The Jewish community was very well organized along the same lines as the mother community in Amsterdam. Ẓur Israel maintained a synagogue, the religious schools Talmud Torah and Eẓ Ḥayim, and a cemetery. In Recife there was a "Rua dos Judeus" (Jodenstraat or Jewish street) in 1636.
In 1642 Rabbi Isaac Aboab da Fonseca arrived from Holland, accompanied by the ḥakham Moses Rafael de Aguilar. Jews from Recife addressed an inquiry regarding the proper season to recite the prayers for rain to Rabbi Ḥayyim Shabbetai in Salonika, the earliest American contribution to rabbinic responsa literature. Despite official tolerance, however, the Jews were subjects of some hostility at the hands of Calvinists.
The estimates of the Jewish population at Recife vary greatly. According to Arnold Wiznitzer, it reached 1,450 members in 1645. Egon and Frieda Wolff's research indicated around 350 Jews.
By 1639 Dutch Brazil had a flourishing sugar industry with more than 120 sugar cane mills, six of which were owned by Jews. Jews also had an important role in commerce, tax farming, and finances. Jews were also engaged in the slave trade, worked in agriculture, in the Dutch militia and as artisans and physicians. The contacts with the local population – including many New Christians – was permanent, due to the economic activities. During Dutch domination in the Nordeste, New Christians came closer to Judaism.
As early as 1642 the Portuguese began preparations for the liberation of northeastern Brazil. In 1645 they began a war that lasted nine years. Jews joined the Dutch ranks, and some were killed in action. Famine had set in and conditions were desperate when, on June 26, 1649, two ships arrived from Holland with food. On that occasion, Rabbi Isaac Aboab wrote the first Hebrew poem in the Americas, "Zekher Asiti le-Nifle'ot El" ("I Have Set a Memorial to God's Miracles").
It was stipulated in the capitulation protocol of Jan. 26, 1654, that all Jews, like the Dutch, were to leave Brazil within three months and had the right to liquidate their assets and to take all their movable property with them. The majority left for Amsterdam, but some sailed to the Caribbean Islands (Curação, Barbados, and so on). Wiznitzer maintained that a group of 23 Brazilian Jews arrived in New Amsterdam (old name of New York), then under Dutch rule, on the Saint Catherine at the beginning of September 1654 and that they were the founding fathers of the first Jewish community in New York. Egon and Frieda Wolff rejected this historical connection and argued that there is no documentary basis to assume that the Jews who arrived in New York were the same that had left Recife during the expulsion of the Dutch.
New Christians continued to live in Recife. Two decades after the departure of the Dutch, the Inquisition was also acquainted with and persecuted the New Christians who had converted to Judaism during the Dutch occupation and had remained in Pernambuco. Many reports reached the Lisbon Inquisition in the second half of the 17th century and during the 18th century regarding their clandestine observance of Jewish rituals. Portuguese policy in the middle of the 18th century eventually enabled the New Christians to mingle with the rest of the population, until their traces disappeared as they became completely assimilated.

Modern Period

The contemporary immigration of Jews from Eastern Europe to Recife started in the 1910s, and in 1910 a synagogue was established in a private house. The Centro Israelita de Pernambuco and the local Ídishe Shul were founded in 1918. Synagoga Israelita da Boa Vista and the Jewish cemetery were created in 1927. In 1930 Sephardi immigrants built their synagogue. The Jewish community was very active with a network of institutions, including six schools, the assistance organization Relief, a sports club, a library, a Yiddish theater group, youth and Zionist groups, and women organizations such as WIZO and Pioneiras. The community, which reached a population of 1,600, lived mostly in the neighborhoods of Boa Viagem and Boa Vista.
In 1992 the Arquivo Histórico Judaico de Pernambuco (Historic Jewish Archive of Pernambuco) was founded. In 1994 the Associação para a Restauração da Memória Judaica das Américas (Association for the Restoration of Jewish Memory in the Americas) was established and in 2000 the building where the synagogue Kahal Kadosh Ẓur Israel had been founded in the Dutch period was recognized as a "national historical patrimony" by Instituto do Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico Nacional – Iphan, a federal agency, and a memorial-museum was opened. Together with the old "Rua dos Judeus" the memorial figures in the tourist tours of the city of Recife.


A. Dines, F. Moreno de Carvalho & N. Falbel (eds.), A Fênix ou o Eterno Retorno (2001); A. Wiznitzer, Os judeus no Brasil colonial (1960); E. & F. Wolff, A odisséia dos judeus no Recife (1979); J.A. Gonçalves de Mello, Gente da Nação: cristãos-novos e judeus em Pernambuco 15421654 (1990); T. Neumann Kaufman, Passos perdidos – história recuperada. A presença judaica em Pernambuco (2001).
[Roney Cytrinowicz (2nd ed.)]

America’s Earliest Jews

The Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island
The Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island
The majority of today's American Jewish community is Ashkenazi but in Colonial times Sephardim made up the majority of the Jewish population. Historically, Sephardim are associated with Jews who lived on the Iberian Peninsula. The story of these Jews' immigration to North America and their success in adapting their rich culture to their new home is a fascinating aspect of American Jewish history.

Many Jews from Spain fled to various Mediterranean locations after the Spanish Expulsion. Some settled in various regions of the Ottoman Empire (notably Eretz Yisrael, Salonica and Constantinople) while others crossed the border into Portugal. Which was not affected by the Inquisition until 1536. When the Inquisition did reach Portugal, the Portuguese king formally allowed Jews who were not prepared to convert to Christianity to emigrate from Portugal. In fact, however, he hindered the Jews' departure because he needed their professional knowledge for Portugal's expanding overseas territories and enterprises.

These events paved the way for the emigration of many Spanish and Portuguese Jews to new territories in South America. The first locations where Jews settled were on the islands of Sao Tome and Principe Island; Jewish settlers established communities there as early as 1500. From those islands Jewish settlement expanded into Brazil.

Simultaneously, a large number of Portuguese and Spanish refugees settled in Amsterdam. They established contacts in South America and sent for their co-religionists, including craftsmen and professionals, to populate the expanding colonies. Among the Dutch Jewish settlers was a shipload of 600 Jews who left Amsterdam in 1642 for Brazil. The distinguished scholars Moses Raphael de Aguilar and Isaac Aboab da Fonseca were on board. Rabbi da Fonseca was appointed rabbi in Recife, where the largest Jewish community was located, at the Kahal Zur Yisrael synagogue. There, most of the inhabitants were Portuguese Sephardic Jews. The synagogue had amikveh, a yeshiva and a cemetery.

Historical records show that Jews in Brazil helped start the sugar industry, and built bridges, roads and a basic sewage system. Some worked as financiers and brokers. At its height in 1645, the Jewish community of Recife numbered 1,630 members. When the Portuguese captured the territory in 1654 the majority of the Jews were killed, expelled or forced to go into hiding by the Portuguese Inquisition.

Some of the Jews of Recife took refuge in Serido, a town in the Brazilian interior, while others converted and lived as Christians or as crypto-Jews. The Portuguese allowed the Jews some rights as Dutch citizens and numerous Jews succeeded in emigrating from South America. Their journeys were treacherous and the groups faced storms and pirates. Many went to the Dutch Islands of St. Thomas, Curaçao and Barbados or the British colonies in Jamaica or Surinam where they established new communities.
* * * * *

In 1654 a group of 23 Jews sailed on the Saint Catherine. Their original destination was the Caribbean but the Spanish thwarted their landing and they sailed on, arriving in New Amsterdam in September of that year.

Peter Stuyvesant, the governor of New Amsterdam, tried to expel the Recife Jews as soon as they arrived, calling them a “deceitful race” and “the hateful enemies and blasphemers of the name of Christ.” He warned that the Jews would bring harm the new colony.

But the Jews were able to make contact with co-religionists in Amsterdam who prevailed on the Dutch West India Company to overrule Stuyvesant’s objections.

On the grounds that Jews had been loyal and economically productive residents of Holland and that the same level of loyalty could be expected in the new colony, the Dutch West India Company ruled that Jews would be welcome to live and work in New Amsterdam. This group established the Sheraith Israel – Remnants of Israel – congregation which remains, to this day, an Orthodox Sephardic synagogue.

Once the first Jewish community had been established in New Amsterdam, other Jews began to immigrate. The next center of Jewish life to develop was in Newport, Rhode Island. Jews from Holland, Spain and Portugal – many of whom had lived as crypto-Jews for several generations – as well as some Ashkenazim, started to settle in Newport in 1658. Already by 1712 the center of the Newport Jewish community was called Jew Street. The Newport Jewish community inaugurated the Touro synagogue in 1763.

The Newport Touro synagogue was never officially named "Touro" – the community called itself Yeshuat Yisrael. By the mid-19th century, however, the Newport synagogue was recognized, though never formally, as the Touro Synagogue. It received this informal title in honor of one of Newport's founding Jewish families – that of Isaac Touro, which had come from Amsterdam by way of the West Indies. Touro's family was originally from Spain and the family name had originally been de Toro.

The Touro synagogue was built with a trap door under the bimah. The hiding place was adapted from the Marrano tradition of ensuring that one existed wherever Jews might have needed to hide from soldiers of the Inquisition. During the 19th century it served as a hiding site for runaway slaves who were escaping north via the Underground Railroad. The Hebrew Cemetery on Jew Street – today's Bellevue Avenue – has origins dating back to 1677, making it the oldest Jewish cemetery in America.

Within a few years other Jews began to arrive in America. Charleston, South Carolina, was a popular destination for these Sephardic Jews thanks to the religious tolerance established there by the South Carolina charter. This charter, drawn up by the English philosopher John Locke, granted liberty of conscience to all residents. The charter specifically mentioned Jews in its expression of freedom of religion (along with heathens and dissenters).

The first Jews in Charleston were of Portuguese origin and their synagogue, Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim, was inaugurated in 1749 as an Orthodox Sephardic synagogue. By the early 1800s, however, a large percentage of Jewish Charleston residents were Ashkenazic immigrants from Germany and in 1828 the synagogue became affiliated with the Reform movement.

Through most of the 18th century American synagogues conducted and recorded their business in Portuguese, even as their daily language was English. When the German immigration to the United States began in the 19th century, Ashkenazi traditions and culture began to dominate the American Jewish landscape. Ashkenazi dominance of America's Jewish community solidified when the mass immigration of Eastern European Jewish immigrants began in the late 19th century.
* * * * *

Early American Jewry's liturgies and rituals were conducted in the western Sephardi tradition that developed in late 16th and early 17th century Amsterdam. While many of the members of the first American Jewish communities were of Spanish and Portuguese origins, their worship was influenced by the style of the Dutch Sephardi Jews. Scholarly Sephardi cantors succeeded in passing their repertoire down from generation to generation, with a measure of distinction that has become identified with the American brand of western Sephardi tradition.

Until the middle of the 18th century the prayer books used by American Jewish synagogues were brought from Amsterdam. During Oliver Cromwell's reign England began to allow Jews to return to the country. By the 18thcentury American Jews were importing Sephardi prayer books from London for use in America's synagogues . These English prayer books included both Hebrew and English, a combination that grew increasingly popular as English became the main language of American Jews.

Colonial synagogues were Orthodox. Community members preferred the unmodified traditional service. Since American Jews of Colonial times didn't establish Talmudic academies or Jewish schools or even try to bring in rabbis who could help guide the religious life of the community (as did the Jews of the Caribbean), their religious life centered around their synagogues. American Jews came to rely on the synagogues to guide them in adhering to the Sephardi liturgical traditions. Many of these Jews may not have been observant in the "Orthodox" sense but they saw their synagogue chants and music as the primary vehicle that defined their internal Jewish identity.
* * * * *

The early Sephardic synagogues had choirs whose primary function involved leading the congregation in singing and in strophic and responsorial prayers. For congregants in these synagogues the choir would provide a model that they could follow through the service.

Throughout the 18th century in Colonial America most of the liturgical tunes were rendered with no harmonization — even when a lay "choir" provided vocal timbre or functioned as an adjunct to the chazzan in leading the congregation. In the 19th century the Sephardic synagogues began to harmonize most of the traditional tunes in four parts, sung chorally in adult male-choir renditions with soprano, alto, tenor, bass or with two tenors, a bass and two baritones/basses.

Before that, and certainly throughout the 18th century in Colonial America, liturgical melodies were rendered with no harmonization — even when a lay "choir" functioned as an adjunct to the chazzan in leading the congregation and also in providing variety in vocal timbre. Octaves were included if boys were involved in the choirs.

Some of the colonial melodies of note include:

Baruch Haba (Tehillim 118:26-29) The last passage of Hallel was often sung as a welcome for weddings and other life-cycle events. The Sephardi melody includes a number of variations and is often used when singing Shirat HaYam. It is also used for the Spanish Bendigamos hymn, similar to the Birkat HaMazon prayer recited after meals by all Jews. The musical notations were found in a Dutch manuscript that dates back to the 18th century; many Sephardim believe the Baruch Haba tune is an ancient Sephardic melody that originated in time of early Iberian Jewish settlement. 

Baruch Haba was sung in 1782 when Mikve Israel, the first Philadelphia synagogue, was consecrated as synagogue dignitaries circled around the chazzan's reading stand with Sifrei Torah

The melody, also used when singing Shirah Chadashah, part of the Shacharit service, has been used extensively in other Sephardic liturgy.

Megillat Eichah, chanted on Tisha B'Av, had a special significance for Sephardic Jews of Colonial America because the date of the destruction of the First and Second Temples coincided with the Spanish expulsion of 1492. The lyric poetry of Eichah describes the unbearable sadness and desolation of Jerusalem after the destruction of the First Temple and it is used in combination with the kinot of medieval Hebrew poets to illustrate catastrophes and massacres the Jewish world has ensured. 

All communities have their own specific cantillation pattern for the Book of Eichah. Colonial synagogues used the cantillation that was traditional to Portuguese communities and was later adopted by the Portuguese Jews of Amsterdam and the American colonies. A Lisbon manuscript, believed to date prior to the Spanish Expulsion, provides indications of the exact Portuguese melody for the Book of Eichah as adopted by the Amsterdam community in the 17th century. In America the chazzan Mendes Seixas continued to chant the traditional tunes ofEichah that have come down to Tisha B'Av observance today. Some researchers believe the tunes were copied from Italian Baroque melodies. 

Recordings of many of these melodies and additional colonial American music can be found at the Lowell Milken Archives of Jewish Music.
* * * * *

The idea that America's first Jews were not as religiously observant as their co-religionists in other areas of the world has been challenged with new research into the mystical practices of many of the first Jewish inhabitants of North America. And anecdotal writings of Jewish and Christian Americans from the era speak of a devout community of committed American Jews.

The Spanish and Portuguese expulsions raised messianic hopes and mystical aspirations of Jews worldwide who saw, in the turmoil, the hope that the era would bring the Messiah.  Many of the most prominent Sephardic leaders of the era were imbued with these expectations. As was true in Spain, Portugal and Amsterdam, the line that divided mystical and magical beliefs from modern thinking was a thin one.

Menasseh ben Israel, a Dutch rabbi who promoted Jewish settlement in the New World, wrote that he "conceived that our universal dispersion was a necessary circumstance, to be fulfilled, before all that shall be accomplished which the Lord hath promised to the people of the Jews, concerning their restoration and their returning again into their own land."

Rabbi Menasseh wrote these words when the synagogue of Recife was still functioning, but following the demise of the Jewish community in Brazil new Jewish settlements throughout the Caribbean and in North America adopted the same outlook: that the upheavals of the times were both the harbinger and the instrument of messianic redemption.

The names the Jews of the new American settlements chose for their synagogues reflect their mystical and messianic tendencies. Synagogues in Philadelphia, Jamaica, Savannah and Curacao took on the name Mikve Yisrael – the name of Rabbi Menassah's book that echoed Yirmiyahu's promise "O Hope of Mikveh Israel, its deliverer in the time of trouble."

The first synagogue in New York based its name, Shearith Israel, on Micah's prophecy "I will bring together the remnant of Shearith Israel." In Barbados the synagogue was named Nidheh Israel based on Isaiah's prophecy "He will hold up a signal to the nations and assemble the banished of Nidheh Israel and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. In Suriname the synagogue's name, Berachah VeShalom came from a verse in the Zohar – "Where is the Garden of Eden? There are found the treasures of good life, berachah veshalom." 

The Battery

Jewish Tercentenary Monument

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.
This flagstaff, unveiled on May 20, 1955, commemorates the 300th anniversary of the arrival of the first Jewish settlers in New Amsterdam and North America.
In September 1654, Asser Levy and a group of 23 Sephardic Jews fled Recife, Brazil, for New Amsterdam to seek refuge from the Inquisition. Shortly after their arrival, Director General of New Netherland Peter Stuyvesant (1610-1672) attempted to evict them. However, Levy challenged Stuyvesant on such issues as citizenship, the right to bear arms, and property ownership. Levy prevailed, and became the first Jewish citizen of New Amsterdam and a leading advocate for the civil rights of Jews.
Levy was the first kosher butcher in the new colony, the first Jew to serve on guard duty (“watch and wait”) and to own property, and a founding member of Shearith Israel, the first Jewish congregation in North America. Today Shearith Israel's synagogue is located at Central Park West and 70th Street. Its congregational burial grounds are at 55 St. James Place (1683-1828), 72-76 West 11th Street (1805-1829), 98-110 West 21st Street (1829-1851), and Cypress Hills Street, Queens (1885-present).
This monument, which includes a 75-foot-high flagpole, a 7-foot-high granite pedestal, and a decorative bronze tablet, was erected under the auspices of the New York Joint Legislative Committee for the American Jewish Tercentenary. Though the precise landing point of the first Jewish settlers cannot be confirmed, it is believed to have been nearby, in what today is lower Manhattan.
At the dedication ceremony, Governor Averell Harriman (1891-1986) presented the flagpole and plaque to Parks Commissioner Robert Moses (1888-1981), representing the City of New York. Dr. Julius Mark, Chairman of the Tercentenary Committee of the New York Board of Rabbis, delivered the invocation, and the Department of Sanitation band provided music. The event was broadcast over New York City’s Municipal Broadcasting System.
The large bronze tablet, with an inscription honoring the intrepid band of Jewish immigrants, was fashioned by the sculptor Abram Belskie (1907-1988). On it, two stylized lions frame a Star of David set over a decorative low-relief menorah.
Abram Belskie was born in London, England, on March 24, 1907, and studied at the Glasgow School of Art, where he later became an instructor. Belskie moved to the United States in 1929, and collaborated on the panels that adorn the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. In 1930, he moved with his wife, Helen, to Closter, New Jersey, where he lived and worked for the next 58 years. Two of his best-known sculptures are Christ Child and Moon Beam, both now at Brookgreen Gardens in South Carolina.
Belskie was also affiliated with the New York Academy of Medicine, for which he made anatomical models. Several of his life-size models were displayed at the Hall of Man at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Belskie executed projects for the American Heart Association and other medical organizations as well. The Franklin Mint, the Negro Commemorative Society, Presidential Art Medals, and the American Numismatic Society all commissioned medals and medallions from him. Upon his death in 1988, the Lions Club of Closter created the Belskie Museum of Art and Science in his honor.
The Jewish Tercentenary Monument is set within a small landscaped triangle named for Peter Minuit (1580-1638), the Dutch provincial director general who is credited with the purchase of Manhattan Island from the Lenape people. The park is presently undergoing an expansion and improvement, under the auspices of the Economic Development Corporation, as part of the construction of the new Whitehall Ferry Terminal.

history > new amsterdam (new york)
The history of the various Dutch territories in the New World are closely related. Therefore, the end of the Dutch colony in Brazil (1630 - 1654) marks also the beginning of the arrival of the Jewish Dutch in New Amsterdam. But this too had some difficulties.
In 1624 the province of New Netherlands was founded on Noten Eylant, south of Manhattan. This island has been called Governors Island since 1784.
One year later fortress Amsterdam was built on the southern tip on Manhattan and this New Amsterdam was the centre of the trade in beaver fur. 
There was already a Jewish settlement since 1636. The community of Shearith Israel (this community still exists today) founded a cemetery in the area that is now Chatham Square. This is the oldest Jewish cemetery in North America. 
On the 2nd of February 1653 the town received city rights and the growth increased rapidly. New Amsterdam became the biggest Dutch colonial settlement in North America. 
The territory remained Dutch until November 1674. The peace treaty of Westminster determined that the settlement was English from that point on. 
The Jewish settlement in the new city had an important link with the arrival of Peter Stuyvesant. Stuyvesant came from the province of Friesland and worked as a commodore for the WIC (Dutch West Indies Company) at the Antilles. Stuyvesant was a law-abiding man and the first thing he did was solving disputes according to the law. He did not tolerate people rising up against governors, even if they had the moral right. In the end, and not because of a progressive attitude of Stuyvesant, a city council with burgomasters, aldermen and a sheriff was installed. 

New Amsterdam became a melting pot of cultures. British, Germans, French and Scandinavians lived there and the Dutch were the biggest minority. 
The Dutch language was the lingua franca and official papers were written in Dutch.
Stuyvesant was a purist in his religion and he only allowed the Dutch Reformed Church (the Calvinistic Christian religion). However, Dutch law allowed freedom of religion.
In 1654 23 Jews arrived from the former colony in Brazil after the surrender of the colony to the Portuguese. They sailed on 1 of the 16 ships that departed from Brazil and wanted to sail back to Amsterdam. This ship sailed for the New Netherlands after an encounter with pirates near Jamaica. 
Under the supervision of Abraham de Lucena and Salvador Dandrada they intended to buy land and that was refused by Stuyvesant because of "important reasons". This group had almost no money left after the encounter with the pirates and could not pay fully for the passage. Stuyvesant auctioned the few remaining possessions but the money earned was not enough. Stuyvesant asked the WIC for permission to expel this group. This was denied, the WIC allowed this group in 1655 to live in the colony as long as they did not ask for financial aid at the WIC or the community. Stuyvesant was not amused. He ruled that Jews were not allowed to become members of the guard, and taxed the Jews for this guard. Abraham de Lucena, Salvador Dandrada, Jacob Barsimon and the rich merchant Jacob Levy put pressure on the Republic by means of a petition of the 5th of November 1655 and the Jewish community of Amsterdam assisted them. Stuyvesant capitulated and had to stop putting Jews on the backseat on social, economic and juridical areas. New Amsterdam granted freedom of religion to the Jews on the 20th of April 1657. This marks the beginning of the largest Jewish city in the world with a larger Jewish community than Tel Aviv. 
Asser Levy
Asser Levy wanted more than freedom of religion and leaving the Jewish population in peace. He wanted more, and by pressuring Stuyvesant he became the first Jew in North America that was allowed in the military, was allowed to work in trade, received permission to become a butcher and was allowed to own a house. He went into the fur trading and became one of the six butchers in the colony with a permit. Because of religious reasons he did not butcher hogs and he was not made to do so. He became one of the richest men in the colony. In 1671 Asser lend money to the Lutherans to build a church. 

With the arrival of 23 Jewish refugees from Brazil the Jewish settlement in New Amsterdam became a fact. After that event all went quite rapidly. Around the year 1700 there are already 6 religious communities in North America with a synagogue. They are in Montreal, Philadelphia, New York, Newport, Savannah and Charleston. 
Until 1720 the majority of the American Jews were Sephardic with a Spanish/Portuguese background. After 1720 most of the new Jewish immigrants came from central Europe, with England as a hub.
The biggest part of them worked in commercial activities, like a small shop, the clothing industry, distilling liquor or making soap. 
The largest Jewish plantation owner was Francis Salvador, in South Carolina. Salvador grew the colour indigo. In 1755 Francis became the first Jewish politician in North America, as a member of the South Carolina Provincial Congress. 
Religious communities were very important. Not only for the religion, but also for social aspects as medical care, education for children en help to new immigrants. These new immigrants, mostly Asjkenazic, adopted the Sefardic religious services. 
Shearith Israel, the community that founded the cemetery in 1636, founds in 1730 the first synagogue on Mill Street in New York. This is the oldest synagogue on the mainland of North America and does not exist any more. In 1763 the Touro Synagogue was founded in Newport, which is the oldest synagogue still in existence. 

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