Barsimson had been sent out by the Jewish leaders of
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.
Peter Stuyvesant initially discriminated against the Jews present in New Amsterdam in a variety of ways. They were barred from serving in the militia or practicing the
Jewish religion in a synagogue. In a letter to the Amsterdam Chamber of Commerce, Stuyvesant said that they were committing
blasphemy. He also accused them of engaging in "their customary
usury" and "deceitful trading". He restricted their ability to purchase land or trade.
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. Their request was refused with a statement that they may go elsewhere if they liked. However, Levy began serving in the militia in 1657.
In 1656, they successfully lobbied for approval to construct a
Jewish cemetery, after initially being denied this request.
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.
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." Therefore he was officially excused twice that month from appearing in court, due to religious reasons.