Since First Jew Landed in New York
11:51 Aug 22, '04 / 5 Elul 5764
Today, August 22, 2004, marks the 350th anniversary of the first
Jewish immigrant to arrive in the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam,
what is today New York City in the United States.
departed the Dutch colony of Recife, Brazil on July 8, 1654,
Jacob Barsimon, a Sephardic Jew, became the first of many Jews
who would organize what would later become the first Jewish
community in the United States. Barsimon was employed by the
Dutch East India Company, which was a trading and colonizing
company for the Dutch.
of 1654, Holland lost Brazil to the Portuguese navy, leaving
the Jews to once again uproot and find a new home. At the time,
the Inquisition in Mexico, Peru, Portugal, Spain and other countries
was furiously pursuing Jews; trials, resulting in burnings at
the stake, were a frequent occurrence. Barsimon, twenty-three
Jews who came the following month, and more who came the following
year, started the first Jewish congregation known as Shearith
Israel (Remnant of Israel), a congregation which is still in
International Society for Sephardic Progress, a Sephardic Jewish
advocacy agency in the United States, called Jacob Barsimon "a
man who risked his life traversing many countries in treacherous
times because he refused to give up his religion."