Jewish American history in brief
1654 / Twenty-three Jewish refugees flee Brazil, where they'd gone to escape the Spanish Inquisition. They land in New Amsterdam, which will be renamed New York in 1664.Skip to next paragraph
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1655 / Dutch West India Company allows Jewish settlers to become permanent residents of New Amsterdam.
1656 / Dr. Jacob Lumbrozo, a Portuguese physician, arrives in Maryland on Jan. 24. He becomes known as "Ye Jew doctor" because he refuses to hide his Jewishness.
1700 / Jewish population of America is about 250. *
1730 / New York Jews dedicate Shearith Israel, their first synagogue, on Mill Street. The congregation had worshiped in a rented house previously.
1750 / Charleston, S.C., has an organized Jewish community.
1761 / First High Holiday prayer book in English is published in New York.
1763 / Newport, R.I., builds its first synagogue, the oldest one still standing in the US today. *
1778 / Moses Levy of Philadelphia becomes the first trained Jewish lawyer, and later serves as a judge in the city. Levy was with George Washington during the famous crossing of the Delaware River in 1776.
1781 / Haym Salomon, a Polish Jew who arrived in New York in 1772, helps raise money to support the American cause in the Revolutionary War.
1789 / Gershom Mendes Seixas, hazan of New York's Jewish congregation, is invited to the inauguration of President George Washington.
1790 / The Jews of Newport, R.I., welcome President Washington. He responds in a letter with the famous words that this government "gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance," giving Jews a guarantee of religious liberty.
1808 / Polonies Talmud Torah, the first Jewish school on record in America, is established in New York.
1813 / Mordecai Manuel Noah - politician, editor, and playwright - is appointed US consul at Tunis. This is the first major diplomatic post awarded an American Jew.
1830 / Substantial numbers of German Jews begin to emigrate to America.
1833 / Penina Moise's "Fancy Sketch Book," the first book by an American Jewish woman, is published in South Carolina.
1841 / David Levy Yulee of Florida is the first Jew elected to the US Senate.
1843 / B'nai B'rith (Sons of the Covenant), the first secular Jewish organization in the US, is founded by 12 Jewish immigrants.
1854 / Judah Touro becomes ones of America's first philanthropists when he donates several hundred thousand dollars to Jewish and non-Jewish charitable institutions.
1864 / Sgt. Leopold Karpeles is awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for rallying the men of the 57th Massachusetts Volunteers around the flag, which he carried, during the Civil War's Battle of the Wilderness. His efforts helped turn a retreat into a victory for the Union Army.
1873 / Levi Strauss patents his denim pants, the first bluejeans. *
1874 / David Lubin is the first to sell merchandise at fixed prices at a time when customers expected to bargain for retail items.
1876 / Jacob Zevi Sobel (James H. Sobel) is considered the first Yiddish poet of literary merit in America.
1880 / Yiddish theater becomes popular with New York's large population of Jewish immigrants. Favorable review 1881 / Russian pogroms force thousands of East European Jews to emigrate to the US. Before strict immigration quotas are established in 1924, 2.5 million poor Jews flee from Russia, Poland, Austro-Hungary, and Romania.