Timeline

  • 1654

    Twenty-three Jewish refugees flee Brazil and the long arm of the Inquisition, and land in New Amsterdam.

    From the AJHS Collection
    The Jews settle in New Amsterdam : 1654

    Samuel Grand; New York : Union of American Hebrew Congregations c1954

    Available through American Jewish Historical Society. F128.9.J5 G67

     

    Collection Type 
    Book
  • Jefferson Letter

    1666

    Jefferson Letter

    1
    From the AJHS Collection
    Jefferson Letter

    Collection Type 
    Archival
  • Peter Stuyvesant Letter with translation

    1668

    Peter Stuyvesant Letter with translation

    1
    From the AJHS Collection
    Peter Stuyvesant Letter with translation

    Peter Stuyvesant Letter with translation

    Collection Type 
    Archival
  • 1655

    Dutch West India Company allows Jewish settlers to reside permanently in New Amsterdam.

  • 1776

    The Declaration of Independence proclaims “all men are created equal.”

  • 1783

    Like other Americans, Jews took sides--and took up arms--during the Revolutionary War. About 100 Jews served in the Continental Army and state militias. By fostering religious freedom, the Revolution confirmed Jews in their belief that they were truly at home in America. In 1790, when the nation’s Jewish congregations sent letters of greeting to president George Washington, he assured them that the United States government “gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.”

    1
  • Prayer for the Government, 1784.

    1784

    This prayer for the Government for General George Washington and New York State Governor George Clinton was composed and delivered by Gershon Mendez Seixas (1745-1816) in 1784.

    1
    From the AJHS Collection
    Prayer for the Government, 1784.

    This prayer, composed and delivered by Gershom Mendez Seixas (1745-1816) in 1784, calls on God to protect General George Washington and New York Governor George Clinton.

    Jacques Judah Lyons (1813-1877) Papers, undated, 1705-1950

    Collection #P-15; Box 1, Folder 64

    Prayer for the Government, 1784.

    Collection Type 
    Archival
  • 1787
    1
    George Washington Papers, National Archives
    Letter from George Washington to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island, 1790

    In 1789 and 1790, the newly inaugurated first president received letters of good tidings from the Jewish congregations of Savannah, Newport, and in a joint letter, the combined congregations of Philadelphia, New York, Charleston, and Richmond.

    Collection Type 
    Website
  • 1824

    In 1820, American Jews numbered about 3,000, but by 1870, over 200,000 Jews could be found spread throughout the nation. Attracted by the booming commercial economy and religious freedom, a prolonged wave of immigration from the German states, Austria, Bohemia, Hungary, Poland, and Lithuania, had brought tens of thousands of mostly young Jewish men and women to America.

    1
  • 1824

    Jews in Charleston, South Carolina organize the first Reform Jewish religious group in the United States.

  • 1823

    The first Jewish American periodical, The Jew, published in New York.

  • Handwritten Prayer Book by Emanuel De La Motta

    1833
    1
    From the AJHS Collection
    Handwritten Prayer Book by Emanuel De La Motta

    This Evening Service for the Sabbath, Festivals, and New Year was written by Emanuel De La Motta in Charleston, SC for his daughters, Clara and Rachel.

    Emanuel de la Motta (1760-1821) Prayerbook

    Collection, undated, 1820. Collection #P-68

    Handwritten Prayer Book by Emanuel De La Motta

    Collection Type 
    Archival
  • 1871

    More Jews emigrated to the United States between 1870 and 1924 than in any period before or since. The vast majority-some 2.5 million-fled poverty and anti-Semitism in the Russian Empire, Romania and Austria-Hungary and transformed American Jewish life. By fostering the rise of a Jewish working class in the garment trades and other industries, these immigrants reshaped the labor movement and left-wing politics in America. By 1930, the Jewish comunities’ numbers rose to over 4 million, or about 3.5% of the US population.

    1
  • Matronshka Stacking Doll Olga

    1869
    1
    From the AJHS Collection
    Matryoshka Stacking Doll "Olga"

    These nesting dolls, which Edis Cerebrenick Grossman played with as a child, put a bright face on the Russian Jewish experience.

    Матрешка "Ольга"
    Эти матрешки, с которыми Эдис Серебреник Гроссман играла в детстве, скрашивали суровые будни русских евреев.

    Accession 1992.009.001

     

    Matronshka Stacking Doll Olga

    Collection Type 
    Museum Holdings
  • Isaac Mayer Wise

    1875

    In Cincinnati, Isaac Mayer Wise founds Hebrew Union College, Reform Judaism’s rabbinical seminary.

    From the AJHS Collection
    Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise Photograph, undated

    Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise, founder of Reform Judaism in the United States, served as Hebrew Union College's first president and built the college into a center of Jewish education and scholarship.

    Library materials on and about Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise. 

    Isaac Mayer Wise

    Collection Type 
    Book
  • Emma Lazarus

    1881
    1
    From the AJHS Collection
    Emma Lazarus (1849-1887)

    In 1883 the American Jewish poet Emma Lazarus composed "The New Colossus" that hangs on the pedestal of the statue of liberty. "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free."

    Emma Lazarus collection, undated, 1876-1987

    Collection #P-2

    Emma Lazarus

    Collection Type 
    Archival
  • 1924
    1
    From the AJHS Collection
    Molly Picon (1898-1992)

    Actress Molly Picon (1898-1992) in a hand-colored photograph from Zipke, performed at the Second Ave. Theatre, 1924.

    Molly Picon Papers, 1877-1971.

    Collection #P-38; Box 59; Folder 1192 (aa-p38-157)

    Molly Picon

    Collection Type 
    Visual
  • 1924

    After Congress ended mass emigration from Eastern and Southern Europe in 1924, for the first time in its history the American Jewish population became predominantly native-born. The children and grandchildren of immigrants entered the mainstream of American life. The rise of Nazi Germany and the disaster of the Holocaust confirmed the Zionism of many American Jews. Most Jewish Americans greeted with enthusiasm the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. By 1950, American Jewry, with five million individuals, was now the largest and most influential Jewish community in the world.

    1
    1
  • Basketball Jersey from the Hebrew National Orphan Home Alumni Association

    1928
    1
    From the AJHS Collection
    Basketball Jersey from the Hebrew National Orphan Home Alumni Association

    This jersey was worn by a child resident of the Hebrew Orphan Asylum (HOA) in New York, who enjoyed not only shelter from hard times through periods of destitution or death, but physical education as well.

    Hebrew Orphan Asylum of the City of New York Records, 1855-1985, 2004

    Collection #I-42

    Basketball Jersey from the Hebrew National Orphan Home Alumni Association

    Collection Type 
    Museum Collection
  • Of Thee I Sing, George Gershwin

    1931

    The first musical to win a Pulitzer Prize, Of Thee I Sing, composed by George Gershwin.

    From the AJHS Collection
    Composer George Gershwin (1898-1937)

    The first musical to win a Pulitzer Prize, Of Thee I Sing, composed by George Gershwin.

    Gershwin Family Collection, 1933-1973

    Collection #P-182

    Of Thee I Sing, George Gershwin

    Collection Type 
    Archival
  • 1961

    The late 20th century found Jews more ensconced in the American mainstream than ever before. The turbulence of the 1960s and 1970s, however, saw Jews bring the student, civil rights, and anti-war militancy to bear on their own movements in support of Israel, and for the liberation of Soviet, Syrian, and Ethiopian Jews. The sixties counterculture also fostered an increased diversity in religious observance--the Havurah and Jewish Revival movements for some and a return to traditional Orthodoxy and Hasidism for others. The freedom to choose or create one’s own way of being Jewish and American remains vital after 360 years.

    1
    1
  • Sandy Koufax, Los Angeles Dodger jersey

    1963

    Sandy Koufax, Los Angeles Dodger pitcher, named the National League’s Most Valuable Player

    1
    From the AJHS Collection
    Signed Sandy Koufax Rookie Jersey, 1955

    Sandy Koufax is arguably the most respected and legendary American Jew in sports, designated by Sports Illustrated magazine "The Most Intriguing Athlete of the Twentieth Century." In 1972, Koufax became the youngest inductee in the Baseball Hall of Fame's history.

    Accession 1998.031.001

    Sandy Koufax, Los Angeles Dodger jersey

    Collection Type 
    Museum Holdings
  • “Speak out for silent Soviet Jews” political poster

    1964

    Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry founded, following a march to protest Soviet anti-Jewish policies.

    From the AJHS Collection
    “Speak out for silent Soviet Jews” political poster

    The Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry (SSSJ) was a militant, although non-violent, student movement forming a vital part of the larger American Soviet Jewry movement and played a vital role in organizing protests, attending marches, and creating political pressure on the international community. Various archival materials and books.

    Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry или SSSJ  (Студенческая Борьба за Советских Евреев) представляло собой воинствующее, хотя и ненасильственное, студенческое движение которое сыграло решающую роль в формировании более широкого американского движения за права советских евреев путем организации публичных протестов, массовых шествий и создания политического давления на международное сообщество

    “Speak out for silent Soviet Jews” political poster

    Collection Type 
    Archival
  • Jewish Defense League

    1968

    The Jewish Defense League (JDL) was formed.

    From the AJHS Collection
    A rally for Soviet Jewry sponsored by the Jewish Defense League, circa 1968

    The Jewish Defense League (JDL) was created as a militant Zionist organization with a stated goal to protect Jews from all forms of anti-semitism.

    Jewish Defense League Records, undated, 1969-1974, 1985-1986

    Collection #I-374

    Jewish Defense League

    Collection Type 
    Archival