by Rabbi Marc D. Angel
In September 1654, twenty-three Jewish refugees from Recife, Brazil arrived in the Dutch colonial town of New Amsterdam aboard the St. Charles, a French warship. The Portuguese had just retaken Brazil from the Dutch, and these Jews feared living under the same repression that had caused their ancestors to flee Spain in 1492 and Portugal in 1497.
Despite strong protests by Peter Stuyvesant, the local governor, the Dutch West India Company ordered that this small group be allowed to stay in New Amsterdam. At first calling themselves Shearith Jacob, or Remnant of Jacob, and later Shearith Israel, they became the first Jewish congregation in North America.
For almost 175 years, Shearith Israel was the only Jewish congregation in New York City, and its history has been deeply intertwined with that of the city and the nation.
Published to mark Shearith Israel's 350th anniversary, this book tells their individual stories as well as the history of the congregation, explaining its origins, its rituals and its traditions. It is profusely illustrated with portraits, historical documents and ritual objects. There are beautiful views of the Little Synagogue, part of the present building on Central Park West at 70th Street, which incorporates furnishings from the congregation's 1730 synagogue on Mill Street, and of the recently restored main sanctuary, with its stained glass and interior design by Louis Comfort Tiffany.
This book tells a fascinating story, one that will appeal to anyone interested in the history and culture of the Jewish people, of New York City, and of the United States.
- ISBN 1-878351-62-1
- 192 pages
- 9 x 11", hardcover with linen binding and French-fold dust-jacket
- 89 illustrations in color and 53 in b&w