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Old Jewish America

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Colin points us to this piece on a declining Jewish cemetery in Curacao, threatened by the elements and the gigantic refinery built right next to it. As Colin notes for Latin America, there is a sizable Jewish history in the Americas that is often forgotten. This is also true in the United States, particularly in New York and Newport. In the latter, you can visit the Touro Synagogue, a still active synagogue which explains the history of 18th century Judaism in Rhode Island. The locations where you see an active colonial Jewish population are hardly coincidental. Basically, just follow the Dutch. There was a sizable Jewish population in New Amsterdam because of Dutch toleration. When the English took it over in 1664, rights for Jews, as well as for women and Africans, declined. Rhode Island is an exception to the Dutch trend, but then Rhode Island’s religious tolerance always made it unusual for the colonial world.

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