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Jacob Barsimson ( Hebrew: יעקב ברסימסון) was one of the earliest Jewish settlers at New Amsterdam ( New York City), and the earliest identified Jewish settler within the present limits of the state of New York. [1] [2] He was an Ashkenazi Jew of Central European background. [3] [4] [5]

Barsimson had been sent out by the Jewish leaders of Amsterdam, Dutch Republic to determine the possibilities of an extensive Jewish immigration to New Amsterdam. With the fall of Dutch Brazil, it was imperative for Jews planning to leave Europe to find other new homes.

He arrived at that port on the ship Peartree (or de Pereboom) on August 22, 1654, having left the Netherlands on July 8. [1] [6] Barsimson used a passport issued to him by the Dutch West India Company. [7] Another Jew named Jacob Aboaf also left the Netherlands on the ship, but departed at England. [6] Barsimson was succeeded by a party of 23 Jews, who arrived at New Amsterdam in September from Brazil. [8] [9] [2] They established Congregation Shearith Israel, the first Jewish synagogue in what would become the United States. [2] Most of these Jewish settlers were Sephardim. [10]

Jewish rights

Governor Peter Stuyvesant initially discriminated against the Jews present in New Amsterdam in a variety of ways. [8] They were barred from serving in the militia or practicing the Jewish religion in a synagogue. [11] [8] In a letter to the Amsterdam Chamber of Commerce, Stuyvesant said that they were committing blasphemy. [8] He also accused them of engaging in "their customary usury" and "deceitful trading". He restricted their ability to purchase land or trade. [12] [10]

In November 1655, Barsimson and another early Jewish settler, Asser Levy, petitioned the government of New Netherland for permission to stand guard to the colony like other burghers, or else to be relieved from the special monthly tax imposed on Jews in the colony, as a penance for not standing in the guard. [13] [14] [10] Their request was refused with a statement that they may go elsewhere if they liked. [1] [14] [15] However, Levy began serving in the militia in 1657. [13] [11]

In 1656, they successfully lobbied for approval to construct a Jewish cemetery, after initially being denied this request. [11]

Barsimson and other early American Jews succeeded before long in obtaining instructions to Governor Peter Stuyvesant from his superiors, the Dutch West India Company of Holland, overruling his discrimination against Jews in the colony. [9]

In June 1658, Barsimson was summoned to court as defendant on a Saturday, but the court decided that "Though [defendant] is absent, yet no default is entered against him, as he was summoned on his Sabbath." [16] [17] [18] Therefore he was officially excused twice that month from appearing in court, due to religious reasons. [18]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Sandler, Philip (January 1955). "Earliest Jewish Settlers in New York (To The Tercentennary of Jewish Settlement in America)". New York History. Fenimore Art Museum. 36 (1): 39–50. ISSN  0146-437X. JSTOR  23154364 – via JSTOR.
  2. ^ a b c Kroessler, Jeffrey A. (2002). "1650–1699". New York, Year by Year. New York University Press. pp. 17–32. doi: 10.18574/nyu/9780814763933.003.0007. ISBN  9780814763933.
  3. ^ Bloch, Joshua (1950). Grinstein, Hyman B. (ed.). "Review: The Jewish Community of New York". The Jewish Quarterly Review. University of Pennsylvania Press. 40 (3): 317–319. doi: 10.2307/1452857. ISSN  0021-6682. JSTOR  1452857 – via JSTOR.
  4. ^ Sachar, Howard Morley (1993). "A Foothold in the Early Americas". A History of the Jews in America. Vintage Books. p. 13. ISBN  978-0-679-74530-3.
  5. ^ Kagan, Richard L.; Morgan, Philip D. (2009). Atlantic Diasporas: Jews, Conversos, and Crypto-Jews in the Age of Mercantilism, 1500–1800. Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 58. ISBN  978-0-8018-9035-2.
  6. ^ a b Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society: Number 18. Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society. Vol. 18. American Jewish Historical Society. 1909. p. 3.
  7. ^ Daniels, Doris Groshen (March 1977). "Colonial Jewry: Religion, Domestic and Social Relations". American Jewish Historical Quarterly. American Jewish Historical Society. 66 (3): 375–400. ISSN  0002-9068. JSTOR  23880374 – via JSTOR.
  8. ^ a b c d Bensadoun, Daniel (August 12, 2010). "This week in history". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved November 28, 2021.
  9. ^ a b Oppenheim, Samuel (1925). "More About Jacob Barsimson, The First Jewish Settler in New York". Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society. The Johns Hopkins University Press (29): 39–52. ISSN  0146-5511. JSTOR  43059441 – via JSTOR.
  10. ^ a b c Weisberger, Bernard A. (2015). The American Heritage History of the American People. New Word City. p. 252. ISBN  978-1-61230-900-2.
  11. ^ a b c Dixon, John M. (2021). "1 Colonial Jews in New Amsterdam, New York, and the Atlantic World". Colonial Jews in New Amsterdam, New York, and the Atlantic World. Academic Studies Press. p. 8. doi: 10.1515/9781644694909-003. ISBN  978-1-64469-490-9. S2CID  233531689.
  12. ^ Syrett, Harold C. (1954). "Private Enterprise in New Amsterdam". The William and Mary Quarterly. Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture. 11 (4): 536–550. doi: 10.2307/1923076. ISSN  0043-5597. JSTOR  1923076 – via JSTOR.
  13. ^ a b Rabinove, Samuel (1990). "How – and Why – American Jews Have Contended for Religious Freedom: The Requirements and Limits of Civility". Journal of Law and Religion. Cambridge University Press. 8 (1–2): 134. doi: 10.2307/1051261. ISSN  0748-0814. JSTOR  1051261. S2CID  155457185.
  14. ^ a b Finkelstein, Norman H. (1997). Heeding the Call: Jewish Voices in America's Civil Rights Struggle. Jewish Publication Society. p. 17. ISBN  978-0-8276-0590-9.
  15. ^ Feingold, Henry L. (2013). "Jews in the Colonial Economy and in the Revolution". Zion in America: The Jewish Experience from Colonial Times to the Present. Courier Corporation. ISBN  978-0-486-14833-5.
  16. ^ Levine, Dr. Yitzchok (August 3, 2005). "Glimpses Into American Jewish History (Part 5)". The Jewish Press. Retrieved November 28, 2021.
  17. ^ Beneke, Chris; Grenda, Christopher S. (2011). "Toleration in Dutch New Netherland". The First Prejudice: Religious Tolerance and Intolerance in Early America. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 109. ISBN  978-0-8122-0489-6.
  18. ^ a b Gurock, Jeffrey S. (2009). Orthodox Jews in America. Indiana University Press. p. 23. ISBN  978-0-253-22060-8.