In late August or early September of 1654, a total of twentythree Jews stepped from a ship onto the soil of what would one day be New York City, the largest Jewish community in the world. But in 1654 it was the Dutch city of New Amsterdam, and the twenty-three new arrivals were the first Jews there. Many of them scattered to other places soon thereafter, and all but one of them have disappeared from history. We know, however, that they had been traveling for a long time.
The Jews who arrived in New Amsterdam came from the Dutch colony of Recife in northeastern Brazil. A few generations earlier, however, their families had lived in Spain and Portugal on Europe's Iberian peninsula. These Iberian Jews were known as Sephardim (Sepharad is Hebrew for [Spain]). Under Muslim rule, the large and prosperous community of Spanish Jews created a rich culture in which tight-knit, allJewish communities enjoyed good relations with their Spanish neighbors.
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Publication information: Book title: A New Promised Land: A History of Jews in America. Contributors: Hasia R. Diner - Author. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 2003. Page number: 1.
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