22.08.

1654: First Jewish Immigrant Arrives in North America

1654: First Jewish Immigrant Arrives in North America
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons/The original city map of New Amsterdam called Castello Plan from 1660 (the bottom left corner is approximately south, while the top right corner is approximately north)

Story Highlights

  • Historical event
  • 22 August 1654
  • Jacob Barsimson was the first recorded Jewish immigrant to America. He arrived in New Amsterdam (later renamed New York) on this day in 1654, and was tasked to investigate the potential of settling a larger number of Jews on the area.

The first recorded Jewish immigrant to America, Dutch Jew Jacob Barsimson, arrived in New Amsterdam on this day in 1654.

The port city of New Amsterdam was at the time under Dutch colonial rule and was the administrative center of the New Netherlands.

The English captured the area in 1664 and renamed it New York in honor of the English king’s brother, the Duke of York.

Jacob Barsimson set sail from the Dutch city of Amsterdam, home to a large Jewish community.

The community had sent him to America on 8 July that year, where he was to investigate the potential of settling a larger number of Jews on the area.

Namely, in 1654 the Portuguese had conquered the Dutch colonial possessions in Brazil, thereby depriving the Jews of their most prominent destination of immigration.

Thus the Jews were forced to find an alternative place they could emigrate to. North America proved suitable, so that another 23 Jews followed Barsimson roughly two months later and founded the first Jewish settlement on that continent.

The USA is today home to over 6.5 million Jews.

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