Haven of Liberty: New York Jews in the New World, 1654-1865 (City of Promises)

Haven of Liberty: New York Jews in the New World, 1654-1865 (City of Promises)

Language: English

Pages: 368

ISBN: 1479803510

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Haven of Liberty chronicles the arrival of the first Jews to New York in 1654 and highlights the role of republicanism in shaping their identity and institutions. Rock follows the Jews of NewYork through the Dutch and British colonial eras, the American Revolution and early republic, and the antebellum years, ending with a path-breaking account of their outlook and behavior during the Civil War. Overcoming significant barriers, these courageous men and women laid the foundations for one of the world’s foremost Jewish cities.

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gave his married daughter Rachel his household furniture, plate, jewels, linen, and his “two slaves ishmael & jenney to her & her heirs forever.” Yet he also directed that his “Mustie Wench kattey” be “made free from the Yoke of Slavery” in gratitude for her “fidelity & faithfull Services” to his daughter Rachel, by then deceased. Gomez also freed another slave.33 Beyond ownership of slaves, a number of Jewish merchants participated in the slave trade, though their consignments represented a

Governance Authority at Shearith Israel reflected the deference common to colonial America and to the traditions of the Sephardic communities of Amsterdam and London. That the synagogue never sought a rabbi before the 1840s in part reflected the desire of its lay leaders to be at the helm of the Jewish community. Shearith Israel employed three officials. The hazan, the spiritual leader of the congregation, circumcised male newborns, prepared male youth for bar mitzvah, and, when a teacher was not

shelter him. Saturday night he and his family boarded a wagon and followed the army into Westchester. He later found his way to Philadelphia, where most exiled New York Jews gathered.17 What motivated Jews to abandon their beloved synagogue and a city that had safely housed Jews for over a hundred years? First, they were part of the community and with their fellow Americans shared in the growing alienation from the British. Second, the freedom, respect, and economic opportunity they found in New

so, late in life, Rebecca reminisced, “I have glorified in my rebel countrymen! Would to God I, too, had been a patriot!” — a late conversion to the American cause.27 At the other end of the spectrum were Jewish loyalists in need of aid. Hazan Touro in 1781 wrote Sir Guy Carleton, commander in chief, pleading that “the distresses” that he had “sufferd from Persecution for his attachment to [His Majesty’s] government” had so “reduced” his circumstance that he had to ask for funds to move to

him over salary demands and working conditions. Consequently, the board gave the contract to Solomon and ordered Abrahams to return the congregation’s knives and pincers.24 Though Abrahams did not win appointment, a number of members of the congregation continued to employ him. In response, the board wrote the Common Council requesting an ordinance prohibiting the sale of “meats sealed after the customs of their Society” by anyone not under contract with the synagogue. Under Jewish law, they

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