The First Jews in America: Freedom and Culture in the New World

Thursday, September 24th, 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Interested in the history of how Jewish settlers came, not without controversy, to inhabit the New World? How Jews, a small fraction of the population in colonial America and the young United States, negotiated freedoms and made a mark on American culture? Please join NYC Smith alumnae and guests for a second New-York Historical Society 1-hour guided virtual tour “The First Jews in America: Freedom and Culture in the New World.”

The tour captures the journey of a people compelled to leave ancestral lands in Europe and homes in South America and the Caribbean through a controversial arrival in New Amsterdam in 1654 to the attainment of unprecedented political freedoms in early 19th century New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston. Rare portraits, drawings, maps, documents, and ritual objects from the 18th and 19th century will illuminate how Jewish society (artists, writers, activists among them) adopted American ideals, giving birth to a new Jewish American tradition, all the while struggling to remain distinct and socially cohesive.

Participants may ask questions of the expert N-YHS docent during the 50-minute tour and also will have the opportunity to engage in a 10-to-15-minute interactive Q&A session at the end of the tour. For further information, please visit the N-YHS exhibition website.

As a follow-on to a recent New-York Historical Society virtual tour, “Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow,” and in keeping with the Jewish New Year 5780 and High Holy Days, as a time of introspection, this tour may invite reflection on the intersections of anti-Blackness, structural racism, whiteness, white privilege and the many faces of Anti-Semitism.


Image credits: Photo 1: Thomas Sully. Rebecca Gratz, 1831. Oil on panel. The Rosenbach Museum and Library;  Photo 2: Solomon Nunes Carvalho. Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim, Interior, 1838; Oil on canvas. Collection of Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim.

Topic: The First Jews in America: Freedom and Culture in the New World

Date: Thursday, September 24, 2020

Time: 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM (EDT)

Click to Register (Members)

Click to Register (Non-Members)

Limit: 50 participants.

Cost: $5 members and non-members

You must be registered before 3:00 PM on Thursday, September 24, 2020, to join the event.

The Zoom link and password details will be shared a few days prior and again on the day of the event.