Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Jewish people in Colonial America

Were you ever taught this in school? In any public education center? No? Neither  was I. This Republic has always been a place of religious piety and tolerance. Except for Islam. We were at war with them from the beginning that The United States was created. And its a cult anyway, not a religion.

Jews were part of colonial America‘s religious diversity in all three colonial regions: New England, Middle, and Southern. The first permanent Jewish community in what would later become the United States was established in 1654 by Jewish refugees from South America.These individuals had lived in a Dutch colony in Brazil where they were free to practice their religion. However, in 1654 the Portuguese conquered the colony. Portugal, at that time, was religiously intolerant and ordered all Jews and Protestants to either convert to Catholicism or leave. Most Jews returned to Holland, but 23 Jews left for the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, which became New York in 1664 when it was conquered by the English.

The governor of the colony, Peter Stuyvesant, did not want to allow the Jews to remain there. However, the directors of the Dutch West India Company, which oversaw the colony, wrote to
Stuyvesant saying that he must allow the Jews to settle in the city. But this did not mean they had full equality. In fact, Jews did not have the right to public worship, which means to pray in a house of worship, for more than 40 years! Before this time they could only pray in private homes. Despite this initially cold reception, the Jews of New Amsterdam/New York, gained most of the same rights as other settlers by the end of the seventeenth century including the right to trade, travel, construct religious buildings, and own property.

The first synagogue, a Jewish house of worship, in America was built by this community in 1730. Between the time they had gained the right to public worship and the construction of this synagogue, the community had rented space where they worshiped together. The congregation was named Shearith Israel, which means remnant of Israel. This name alludes to the community‘s sense of vulnerability as well as its connection with its heritage.

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