08.04.2011 04.Nisan, 5771
Housed today in Manhattan’s Upper West Side, congregation of Shearith Israel continues to be important foundation of US Jewish history.
On April 8, 1730, New York's only Jewish congregation gathered in the heart of what is now Manhattan’s financial district to consecrate its first synagogue. The congregation of Shearith Israel, North America’s oldest to this day, would go on to influence the establishment of some of US Jewry’s most influential and lasting institutions in the New World.
In the fall of 1654, 23 Jews aboard the Santa Catarina arrived in what was then New Amsterdam from Recife, Brazil. Descendants of Jews who had fled the Portuguese and Spanish Inquisitions to The Netherlands, the small community had settled in Dutch colonies in South America. Fearing a repeat of the persecution they faced in Europe, the small community once again left their homes and sought refuge when the Portuguese recaptured Recife in 1654….