1630 Holland captures Pernambuco, Brazil from the Portuguese and invites Jewish settlement. A significant Jewish community develops in Recife. (Recife is the 4th largest metropolitan area in Brazil with 4,136,506 inhabitants.
1649 Solomon Franco was a merchant, who was granted a weekly stipend by the Puritan authorities on the condition that he leave on the next available passage to Holland.
1654 Portugal recaptures Brazil and expels Jews and Protestants. While most Jews return to Holland, a boatload of twenty-three destitute Jews sails into New Amsterdam. Ten are adults. Thirteen are children of various ages. Peter Stuyvesant, governor of New Netherland, writes to the Dutch West India Company, rulers of the colony, asking for permission to expel them. In his letter he calls Jews a “deceitful race” who profess an “abominable religion.” Stuyvesant also wishes to exclude from his colony all Lutherans and Quakers
1655 The Dutch West India Company orders Governor Peter Stuyvesant to permit the Jewish refugees from Recife, Brazil (who had arrived the year before) to settle permanently in New Netherland. They were granted rights to trade, travel, and stand guard.
1655-64 New Amsterdam has an organized Jewish community.
1656 The Dutch West India Company, ruler of New Amsterdam, orders Governor Peter Stuyvesant to grant the Jews in New Netherlands the right to own property and to establish a Jewish cemetery. They are still barred from civic office and denied the right to publicly practice their religion.
1657 Governor Peter Stuyvesant decrees that the Jews of New Netherland are eligible for full civic rights in the colony. After a two-year campaign, Asser Levy wins the right to serve in the militia of New Amsterdam. (Asser Levy was one of the original group of 23 Jewish refugees from Recife who had arrived in 1654)
1658 A few Dutch Jews arrive in Newport, Rhode Island, They were suspected to arrive from Curacao
1659 A Jewish man named David is arrested for peddling goods in Connecticut to children whose parents were absent from home. This is the first record of a Jewish presence in that strictly Puritan colony.
1661 Asser Levy (one of the original group of 23 Jewish refugees from Recife who had arrived in 1654) purchases a house in New Amsterdam, thus becoming the first Jew in North America to own a house. Unlike most of his fellow Jewish settlers, who soon leave the colony, Levy will remain in the region for the rest of his life, as will many of his descendants.
1663 All of the original group of 23 Jewish refugees from Recife who had arrived in 1654 — except for Asser Levy and Abraham De Lucena has left New Amsterdam.
1664 The English conquer New Amsterdam and rename it New York but retains its Dutch flavor for many years. Jews are granted broad rights, including freedom of worship.
1665 The charter of Rhode Island enacts a law permitting Jews and Catholics to vote and hold public office. This law would, however, be omitted from later codifications of Rhode Island law.
1669 The founding fathers of the political body of South Carolina draft a constitution stating that Jews are welcome as settlers.
1674 A tax list in Boston includes the names of two Jews, the first indication of Jewish residents in the strictly Puritan Massachusetts Bay Colony.
1677 About 300 Jews from Barbados settle in Newport, Rhode Island which was founded by Jewish refugees from Brazil in 1655
1678 Newport Jews buy a cemetery but there is no permanent community. . Newport’s Jewish community lasts for more than a decade but eventually disbands.
1682 In the late 1670s and early 1680s, a new group of Jews settle on New York’s Manhattan Island, eventually necessitating the purchase of land for a second cemetery.
1692 Jews in New York hold their first public service, in a rented room on Beaver Street.
1693 90 Jews was rumored to have arrived in Newport, Rhode Island, fleeing an outbreak in Curacao.
1697 The legislature of South Carolina adopts a law allowing Jews to habituate and vote. Four Jewish settlers living in Charleston are domesticated. Over the next 50 years, only 15 adult Jewish men are known to live in this city.
1700 There are about 100-150 Jews in New York out of total population of about 5,000. The Jewish population of all English colonies in North America amounts to no more than 200 or 300. The total population of the colonies has reached about 250,000.
1711 Jewish businessmen in New York, including their prayer leader of the Jewish congregation, raised funds to build the bell tower of Trinity Church.
1714 The Spaniard Luis Gomez purchases land five miles north of Newburgh, New York. He will build a stone house on the plot which will serve as a seasonal trading post. It will become one of the oldest continuously lived-in residences in the U.S. and the oldest surviving Jewish residence in North America. Gomez’s family had fled to France from the Spanish Inquisition. When the Huguenots were driven from France his family moved to England. In 1705, Luis obtained gained his rights of citizenship from the British crown. Once he and his family came to America these papers guaranteed him commercial rights in all British colonies, including the right to own land, own ships, and engage in trade.
1715 Thirteen Jews became citizens when the legislature of New York passes an act offering domestication to all immigrants who own real estate or who have been in the colony for more than 32 years.
1720 The Inquisition in Portugal brought as many as 1,500 New Christians (forced Jewish converts) to London. Some of them continue on to the American colonies.
1730 The first synagogue which was named Shearith Israel was built in New York. The following year, a school building will be constructed near the synagogue.
1733 A Jewish settlement was organized in Savannah, Georgia. It does not become a permanent community until the 1790s.
1735 Judah Monis, an instructor in Hebrew at Harvard who had been born Jewish but been baptized in 1722, publishes “A Grammar of the Hebrew Tongue” for use in his courses. Hebrew type is imported from London and one thousand copies of the book are printed. It is the first book with Hebrew type published in America.
1737 Brothers, Isaac and Nathan Levy, traveled from New York to Philadelphia to serve as commercial representatives for their family interests. They are the first Jews to become permanent inhabitants of the city.
1740 The British Plantation Act which grants Jews citizenship. Citizenship however has limitations in regards to the right to vote and run or hold public office.
1745 The last time Portuguese is used in the official records of Shearith Israel, New York
1749 A Jewish community called the Congregation Beth Elohim is formed in Charleston, South Carolina.
1750 A Jewish community was organized in Newport
1759 Rabbi Moses Malki of Safed, Palestine, spends more than four months in New York. It is possible that he helps Shearith Israel, which has no rabbi, arrange its religious affairs. He also travels to Newport, where he meets with the Christian scholar Ezra Stiles. Malki is the first Palestinian emissary to the New World.
1760 A Jewish community is organized in Philadelphia
1761 The first liturgy for the Evening Services for Rosh-Hashanah and Yom Kippur are published in New York
1763 The Jews of Newport, Rhode Island, dedicate their first synagogue, the Congregation Jeshuat Israel of Newport, Rhode Island, (later known as the Touro Synagogue)
1765 Philadelphia’s Jewish community protest against the Stamp Act, Philadelphia’s Jewish merchants join another other merchants of that city in signing a pledge to stop all imports from England. They protest the “restrictions, prohibitions, and ill-advised regulations” of British policy.
1768 Gershom Mendes Seixas is appointed “hazan” (prayer leader) of Congregation Shearith Israel in New York.
1770 From 1688 to 1770, 57 Jews was granted “freeman” status. This status has allowed them to vote in municipal elections and to be eligible for election to municipal office. New York is, however, the only community to consistently grant Jews civic rights.
1771 Philadelphia’s Jewish community rents quarters for worship. Savannah, Georgia, has a total population of 3,000 where 16 are Jews.
1775 Francis Salvador was the first Jew to be elected to the South Carolina Provincial Congress
1776 The British colonies in North America emerge as the United States of America. American Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson, is adopted and signed on July 4 in Philadelphia by members of the Continental Congress. It proclaims, among other things, that “all men are created equal”. Jewish population estimated between 1,000 to 2,500
1777 New York State absolves Jews. The newly drafted constitution of New York State reaffirms freedom of religion and extends voting rights to “every male inhabitant of full age” without religious restrictions. It is the only state constitution adopted during the war that permits Jews to vote or hold public office.
1779 Solomon Bush, son of a Philadelphia merchant, serves as lieutenant colonel in the Continental army, the highest rank held by any Jewish officer at this time.
1780 A Jewish community was organized in Richmond
1783 The first immigrant aid society in the United States was established by the community in Philadelphia
1784 Jewry in Charleston, South Carolina, establishes its first social welfare organization.
1787 The Northwest Territory Act offers Jews equality in all future territories and states.
1788 Jews are granted full rights and permitted to hold federal office in the United States.
1789 Gershom Mendes Seixas, is invited to Washington’s inaugural prayer (Gershom Mendes Seixas was the leader of New York’s Jewish congregation).
1790 George Washington replies to Moses Seixas’s letter on behalf of the Newport Hebrew Congregation using the off-quoted phrase that the United States government “gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance”
1791 The Bill of Rights becomes part of the Constitution. The First Amendment guarantees Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
1796 Dr. Levi Myers of Georgetown, South Carolina, is the first Jew elected to serve in a state legislature in the new republic.
1799 A group of Ashkenazim (Jews of East or Central European descent) secede from the Mikveh Israel congregation in Philadelphia. In 1802, they will form their own congregation, Rodeph Shalom. This fragmenting of a local community, though uncommon in Europe, will become the norm in America.
1800 Jewish population estimated to reach 2,500
1801 the first American Jewish orphan care society was established in Charleston, South Carolina
1802 First Ashkenazic synagogue in America, Rodeph Shalom (Pursuit of Peace), is established in Philadelphia
1813 Mordecai Manuel Noah of Philadelphia, a journalist who campaigned on behalf of James Madison, is appointed by the president to the post of Consul at Tunis in North Africa. He is the first American Jew named to a diplomatic post of this level. During his years in office, Madison names several other Jews to government posts.
1814 First American Hebrew Bible is published in Philadelphia by Thomas Dobson, using a text prepared by Jonathan Horwitz
1816 In Virginia, one year earlier a Jew had been elected recorder, the next highest office under mayor. Richmond’s small Jewish community will remain highly integrated into the town’s civic life for decades to come.
1817 First Jews settle in Cincinnati
1819 Rebecca Gratz helps organize the Female Hebrew Benevolent Society.
1820 Jews from the German lands begin to immigrate to America in substantial numbers
1823 The Jew, The first American Jewish periodical, The Jew, is published in New York
1824 Isaac Leeser, later to become a leader of the traditional wing of American Jewry, arrives in the United States.
Charleston, South Carolina, Jewry organizes the first Reform Jewish religious group in the United States, the Reformed Society of Israelites.
1825 Mordecai Manuel Noah founds Ararat, a Jewish city of refuge on Grand Island in the Niagara River near Buffalo, New York.
Reformed Society of Jewry is established in Charleston
The first Jewish congregation in Cincinnati, Ohio, Bene Israel marks its first year.
1826 The Maryland legislature passes a “Jew Bill” that permits Jews to take public office without making a Christian oath.
1828 New York’s newest congregation, B’nai Jeshurun, is split when a group of Dutch, German, and Polish Jews breaks away to form the congregation Anshe Chesed.
1829 Isaac Leeser, the father of American modern Orthodoxy, becomes the hazzan-minister-rabbi of the Congregation Mikveh Israel in Philadelphia.
New York’s newest congregation, B’nai Jeshurun, is split when a group of Dutch, German, and Polish Jews breaks away to form the congregation Anshe Chesed.
1830 A large number of Jews from Germany began to immigrate to the United States
1833 Penina Moise’s Fancy’s Sketch Book, the first book by an American Jewish woman, is published in Charleston, South Carolina
1837 The first Passover Haggadah is printed in America and published by Solomon Jackson.
1838 The first Jewish Sunday school is established in Philadelphia by Rebecca Gratz and Anna Marks Allen. Run entirely by women, the coeducational school is open to all Jewish children
1840 Abraham Rice from Bavaria arrives in the U.S. to become the first traditionally ordained rabbi to officiate in America.
The Damascus blood libel prompts organized protests by 15,000 American Jews in New York, Philadelphia, Charleston, Cincinnati, Savannah, and Richmond on behalf of seven Syrian Jews accused of ritual murder. In response to the protests, U.S. President Martin Van Buren orders the U.S. consul in Egypt to dispute the blood libel.
Jewish population reaches 15,000
1842 Charleston’s Beth Elohim becomes the first permanent Reform Jewish synagogue in the United States.
David Levy Yulee is the first Jew to serve in Congress and also to become a United States senator.
Congregation B’nai Jeshurun of New York establishes the New York Talmud Torah and Hebrew Institute, an afternoon school (later converted to an all-day school) offering the most advanced Jewish religious instruction then available in the U.S.
1843 Har Sinai Verein uses the German-published Hamburg Reform prayer book and an organ to accompany prayer.
The Congregation Ohabei Shalom is established as Boston’s first synagogue.
B’nai B’rith, a national Jewish fraternal organization, is organized in New York
Isaac Leeser, hazzan of the Sephardic synagogue of Philadelphia, publishes the Occident a strong advocate of Orthodoxy.
1846 Mordecai Manuel Noah speaks before Catholic and Protestant leaders in New York and pleads for the Christian world to help the Jews resettle in Palestine. His treatise on this topic, “Discourse on the Restoration of the Jews,” is published the same year.
Isaac Mayer Wise, the organizer of the American Jewish Reform movement, comes to the United States from Bohemia
A mutual aid society for Jewish women, later known as the United Order of True Sisters, is founded in New York, with lodges in major cities. It becomes the first national Jewish women’s organization
1848 Uprisings and riots break out across Central Europe. Among the fighters for democracy and egalitarianism are Jews who also hope that the revolutions will bring about increased civil rights for Jews. When the revolutions fail, some of these activists will emigrate to the U.S.
Arrival of Jews from German lands, spurred by political unrest in central Europe
1849 First High Holiday services are held in San Francisco
1850 The U.S. negotiates a commercial treaty with Switzerland, but several Swiss cantons at this time prohibit Jews from residing and/or doing business within their borders. American Jews protest with petitions, newspaper articles, public meetings, and letters to congressmen and win the support of Secretary of State Daniel Webster. In 1855, however, the treaty is signed.
1852 The first East European congregation in New York City is organized
Washington Hebrew Congregation is established, the first synagogue in the District of Columbia
1853 Isaac Leeser, cantor and spiritual leader of Philadelphia’s Congregation Mikveh Israel, completes his translation of the Hebrew bible into English,
1854 In his will, New Orleans merchant Judah Touro bequeaths several hundred thousand dollars to Jewish and non-Jewish charitable institutions in the U.S. and Palestine, the largest sum to date that an American philanthropist has given to charity.
Isaac Mayer Wise becomes rabbi of Congregation B’nai Yeshurun in Cincinnati, he begins publishing The Israelite
1855 David Einhorn, a theological liberal, arrives in the United States.
1857 Isaac Mayer Wise introduces his “Minhag America” (American Rite) prayer book, hoping that it would be adopted by all of America’s Jews
1859 In November the Board of Delegates of American Israelites is organized, the first attempt by American Jews to create an overall national Jewish organization
1860 Rabbi Morris Raphall of New York’s B’nai Jeshurun congregation becomes the first rabbi to deliver a rabbinic invocation at the opening session of the U.S. Congress.
Jewish population estimated to reach between 125,000 to 200,000
1861 –1865 At least three Union officers of Jewish origin are breveted generals during the Civil War.
1862 Judah P. Benjamin is appointed Secretary of State of the Confederacy
Jacob Frankel is appointed first Jewish chaplain in the United States Army
General Ulysses S. Grant issues General Order No. 11 expelling Jewish civilians from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi
1865 Jacob H. Schiff, later a national Jewish leader, arrives in New York from Germany.
1867 Isaac Leeser founds Maimonides College in Philadelphia, the first rabbinical school in America
1869 A group of Reform rabbis under the leadership of Samuel Hirsch and David Einhorn meets in Philadelphia to publish the first statement on the Jewish Reform position in America.
1871 Ha-Zofeh ba-Eretz ha-Hadashah is published in New York
1873 Union of American Hebrew Congregations is founded by in Cincinnati by34 congregations across the United States. Although its founders hope that it would embrace all American synagogues, it soon became the Reform Jewish congregational union
1875 In Cincinnati, Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise founds Hebrew Union College, one of the first Jewish institutions of higher education in America.
1876 Felix Adler founds the Society for Ethical Culture in New York, a non-theistic religious movement that advocates a humanistic, ethical worldview and works for the advancement of social justice for all.
President Ulysses Grant and his cabinet attend the dedication of Washington D.C.’s Adas Israel Hebrew Congregation
1877 New Hampshire is the last state to offer Jews political equality.
Joseph Seligman, a prominent New York banker, is barred as a Jew from registering at the Grand Union Hotel in Saratoga, New York, marking the growth of social anti-Semitism in America
1879 A group of mostly American-born young Jews from New York and Philadelphia begin publishing “The American Hebrew,” an intellectually-oriented Jewish newspaper aimed at elevating the spirit of Judaism and bridging the gap between traditional Judaism and Reform.
1880 Jewish population estimated between 230,000 to 300,000
1881 Massive migration of East European Jews to America, impelled by pogroms and lack of economic opportunity
1882 First professional Yiddish theater production is performed in New York
1883 A banquet celebrating the first ordination class of the Hebrew Union College features non-kosher fare, triggering uproar, a walk-out by traditional attendees, and a call for a more religiously traditional seminary
1884 Julia Richman, a first-generation American and daughter of Bohemian immigrants, is the first Jewish woman to be appointed as a principal in the New York City public school system.
1885 Eighteen rabbis meet in Pittsburgh to formulate a statement of principles for Reform Judaism. Known as the Pittsburgh Platform
1886 Etz Chaim (Tree of Life), the first yeshiva for Talmudic studies in the U.S., is established in New York
The Jewish Theological Seminary Association is formed
1887 The Jewish Theological Seminary Association is formed
1888 The Jewish Publication Society of American is founded.
Several anti-Semitic works are published in New York City.
Socialists establish the United Hebrew Trades in New York City.
Rabbi Jacob Joseph is elected chief rabbi of New York’s Orthodox.
1889 The Central Conference of American Rabbis – basically a Reform institution – is established by Isaac M. Wise.
The Hebrew Educational Aid Society, antecedent of the Educational Alliance is founded on the Lower East Side to assist Eastern European Jewish immigrants
1891 Jewish philanthropist Baron Maurice de Hirsch establishes a fund to help Jewish immigrants settle in self-sustaining communities in the U.S he also founds the Jewish Colonization Association to facilitate the mass emigration of Jews from Russia to agricultural colonies in South America.
1892 The American Jewish Historical Society was established
1893 The Jewish Chautauqua Society is founded in Philadelphia by Rabbi Henry Berkowitz as a program to educate American Jews about Judaism
Hannah Greenebaum Solomon establishes the National Council of Jewish Women at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago
1895 The American Jewess is published, the first English language periodical for American Jewish women
Anti-Semitic German politician Herman Ahlwardt comes to the U.S., briefly publishes a periodical called “Der Anti-Semit” (The Anti-Semite), and organizes among German immigrants in New York and New Jersey. He is denounced by American Christian clergymen and his speaking appearances are marked by near riots.
The Central Conference of American Jewish Rabbis rejects the authority of halakhah, Jewish traditional oral law.
1897 The Yiddish language Jewish Daily Forward is founded in New York
The first American yeshiva of a European type (Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary) is founded in New York City
1898 The blowing up of the battleship USS Maine in Havana, Cuba precipitates the entry of the U.S. into the Spanish-American War. Fifteen Jewish sailors are among those killed on the Maine; 5,000 Jews will serve in the U.S. Army during the war.
The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America is established.
1899 The National Conference of Jewish Charities is organized. American Jewish Yearbook begins publication.
1900 The International Ladies’ Garment Worker’s Union (ILGWU) is founded in New York. Jews make up a large percentage of its original membership.
Jewish population estimated t between 938,000 -1.058 million
The Workmen’s Circle (Arbeter Ring), a socialist-led, nationwide fraternal and mutual aid society, is founded in New York, to promote mutual aid, Yiddish culture, and labor solidarity among Jewish workers
1901 The Industrial Removal Office is established to help relocate Jewish immigrants from the Lower East Side, New York, to communities across the United States
The Rabbinical Assembly, the organization of Conservative rabbis, is established.
1902 New York Congressman Henry Goldfogle introduces a resolution in the House of Representatives to initiate the removal of restrictions placed upon American Jews traveling in Russia.
Solomon Schechter is elected head of the Jewish Theological Seminary. He furthers Conservatism as a separate Jewish denomination.
Agudath ha-Rabbanim, the Union of Orthodox Rabbis, is founded in New York
1903 A bronze tablet containing Emma Lazarus’s poem, “The New Colossus” is affixed to the base of the Statue of Liberty
Reacting to the murder of Jews in Kishinev, Russia, American Jewry moves to become a more tightly knit community.
Kaufmann Kohler is elected president of the Hebrew Union College
1904 Angered by Russia’s anti-Semitic policies, financier Jacob Schiff underwrites a bond issue of $200 million for Japan during the Russo-Japanese war. He also uses his influence to dissuade others from supporting Russia financially and provides aid for Russian Jewish self-defense groups.
National Council of Jewish Women president Hannah Greenebaum Solomon, together with women’s rights activist Susan B. Anthony, represents the Council of Women of the U.S. at a convention of the International Council of Women in Berlin.
1905 American Jews celebrate the 250th anniversary of receiving the right to settle in New Amsterdam
1906 In response to the Kishinev pogroms, the American Jewish Committee is founded to safeguard Jewish rights internationally
Oscar Straus is appointed Secretary of Labor and Commerce, the first Jew to hold a U.S. Cabinet post
Jewish students at Harvard establish the Menorah Society,a cultural organization.
The twelve-volume Jewish Encyclopedia is completed.
153,748 Jewish immigrants arrive in the United States, most are from Eastern Europe.
1907 Dropsie College for Hebrew and Cognate Learning is chartered in Philadelphia as a graduate school awarding a Ph.D. degree.
1908 English author Israel Zangwill’s play about Jewish immigrants in America, “The Melting Pot,” opens in Washington D.C., with President Theodore Roosevelt (to whom the play is dedicated) in attendance. It then moves to New York, becoming a Broadway hit.
1909 The Kehillah (Jewish community) of New York City is established.
The Hebrew Sheltering and Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) is formed.
1911 American Jewish groups, led by Louis Marshall and the American Jewish Committee, succeed in convincing Congress to abrogate the Commercial Treaty of 1832 treaty with Russia because of Russia’s anti-Semitic policies and continuing discrimination against American Jewish travelers.
A fire in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory costs the lives of some 140 women. Most were Jews.
1912 Henrietta Szold founds Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America
Louis Marshall, one of America’s most distinguished Jewish layman, becomes the president of the American Jewish Committee.
Financier and philanthropist Jacob Schiff purchases large Hebrew book collection for Library of Congress, leading to the establishment of the Semitic Division in the following year
1913 B’nai B’rith founds the Anti-Defamation League to combat anti-Semitism in the United States, in response to the Atlanta trial of Leo Frank, a Jewish factory manager wrongly accused of murder
The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism is organized.
1914 American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee is founded to provide funds and assistance for Jewish war relief
1915 A mob kidnaps and lynches Leo Frank on learning that the governor of Georgia had committed Frank’s death sentence to life in prison
Moses Alexander, a German Jewish immigrant, is elected governor of Idaho.
Henry Hurwitz edits the Menorah Journal.
1916 American Jews population nearly 3.4 million.
Louis Brandeis appointed as first Jewish Supreme Court justice
1917 United States enters World War I. About 200,000 Jews served in the armed forces.
The British government issues the Balfour Declaration favoring the establishment of a homeland for Jews in Palestine.
The National Jewish Welfare Board is created to serve the religious needs of American Jews in the army and navy.
1918 American Jewish Congress is founded to help secure Jewish rights in post-War Europe and Palestine
Yiddish Art Theater is initiated by Maurice Schwartz.
The Women’s League for Conservative Judaism is formed.
1920 Henry Ford’s Dearborn Independent begins publishing anti-Semitic propaganda, including the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
Jewish population estimated between 3.3-3.6 million
1921 Hadoar begins publication. It emphasizes the primacy of Hebrew in Jewish culture.
1922 Mordecai M. Kaplan founds the Society for the Advancement of Judaism, the cradle of the Reconstructionists movement; Judith Kaplan (Eisenstein), Kaplan’s daughter, celebrates first American Bat Mitzvah
1923 The first B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundation is established at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.
George Gershwin composes “Rhapsody in Blue”
1924 Edna Ferber is the first Jewish writer to receive the Pulitzer Prize for her novel “So Big.”
1925 Florence Prag Kahn of San Francisco becomes the first Jewish woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives
The Hebrew University is inaugurated in Jerusalem with American Rabbi Judah L. Magnes as its first chancellor.
The Synagogue Council of America is organized.
1926 The silent film “The Cohen and the Kelly’s” is released. It is the first in a popular comedy series satirizing both Jews and the Irish.
The World Union for Progressive Judaism is founded.
1927 Warner Brothers produces drama of Jewish acculturation, The Jazz Singer, the first film with sound
The National Conference of Christians and Jews, an organization dedicated to the eradication of prejudice, is founded.
1928 Yeshiva College is established as America’s first Jewish liberal arts college, providing both traditional religious education and secular studies.
1929 The Union of Sephardic Congregations is organized.
The Jewish Agency is enlarged to embrace Zionists and non-Zionists to further the Jewish community in Palestine.
1930 Jewish population estimated between 4.228 to 4.4 million
German Jewish refugees start arriving in the United States.
1931 The Museum of Jewish Ceremonial Objects, a precursor of New York’s Jewish Museum, is founded under the auspices of the Jewish Theological Seminary.
1932 The Council of Jewish Federations is established. It advises two hundred Jewish Federations in the US and Canada.
1933 The American Jewish Congress declares its attention to organize a boycott on German goods to protest the anti-Semitic policies of the Nazi regime. Other organizations, such as the Jewish War Veterans and a new organization called the American League for the Defense of Jewish Rights, also initiate boycott activities. Some mainstream Jewish organizations are reluctant to follow suit, fearing a backlash against German Jews and anti-Semitic responses in America, but the boycott is endorsed by the American Federation of Labor.
1934 The Jewish Labor Committee is established.
Hank Greenberg, first baseman for the Detroit Tigers, refuses to play on Yom Kippur
President Roosevelt appoints Henry Morgenthau, Jr. as Secretary of the Treasury. Roosevelt includes more Jews at the highest levels of government than any previous president, and during his administration, many Jews are also appointed to civil service positions.
1935 The Rabbinical Council of America, an organization of the English-speaking Orthodox rabbis, is formed.
1937 A survey shows 4,771,000 Jews in the United States and 3,728 congregations.
1939 A British White Paper restricts Jewish immigration to Palestine. World War II begins in Europe and the first news of the slaughter of the Polish Jews reaches America.
1940 Jewish population estimated to reach between 4.77 and 4.83 million
1941 – 1945 Over five hundred thousand Jews serve in the American armed forces during World War II. There are numerous Jewish generals and several Jewish admirals.
1942 Rabbi Stephen S. Wise receives the “Riegner Telegram” confirming the Nazi intention to murder the Jews of Europe and turns to the State Department for help
American Zionists adopt the Biltmore Program, demanding the creation of a Jewish Palestine.
1943 American Zionists adopt the Biltmore Program, demanding the creation of a Jewish Palestine.
1944 Camp for Jewish war refugees is opened at Oswego, New York
President Roosevelt establishes the War Refugee Board.
1945 Yeshiva College becomes Yeshiva University.
Bess Myerson becomes the first Jewish woman to win the Miss America Pageant
The United States unleashes the atom bomb on the Japanese. Jews are among the nuclear scientists who perfect the atom, hydrogen, and neutron bombs.
1947 The Jewish Museum of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America moves into the former Warburg mansion in New York City.
On November 29 the United Nations General Assembly votes to divide Palestine into two sovereign states, one Jewish and one Arab.
1948 Brandeis University is founded as first nonsectarian, Jewish-sponsored, institution of higher education
On May 14 Israel declares its independence. The United States government immediately recognizes the new state.
1950 Jewish population estimated to reach between 4.5 and 5 million
1951 The major Reform organization, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, is moved from Cincinnati to New York City.
Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn succeeds his father-in-law as rebbe of the Lubavitch Hassidim.
1952 The Federal Republic of Germany signs an agreement to pay Holocaust survivors and Jewish institutions outside Israel $822 million as reparations for the Holocaust.
1954 Stern College for Women, first liberal arts women’s college under Jewish auspices, is opened.
American Jewish community celebrates tercentenary of Jewish life in America
1955 The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, one of American Jewry’s most powerful organizations, is formed.
1958 Reform Jewish Temple in Atlanta is dynamited by a group of extreme segregationists
1964 Congress passes the Civil Rights Act that, on paper at least, fully guarantees all rights to blacks and Jews.
Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry founded to protest Soviet anti-Jewish policies
Fiddler on the Roof opens on Broadway
During “Freedom Summer,” tens of thousands of civil rights activists, many of them Jewish college students, travel to Mississippi to register African-American voters. Young Jewish New Yorkers Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, along with an African-American, Mississippian James Chaney, are brutally murdered by Klu Klux Klansmen.
1965 An Immigration and Nationality Act is passed. The quota system is revised, but the admission of immigrants is still rigorously limited.
1966 Elie Wiesel publishes “The Jews of Silence,” an eyewitness report of the persecution of Jews in the Soviet Union. Bernard Malamud wins the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for “The Fixer,” a novel based on the case of Mendel Beilis, a Russian Jew, who in 1911 was falsely accused of ritual murder.
1967 Israel succeeds in fighting off Egypt, Jordan, and Syria in the Six-Day War. American Jews are first terrified for Israel’s survival and then jubilantly proud of its victory. They respond to the crisis with record-breaking levels of financial support. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan becomes a new culture hero to Jews in the Diaspora.
1968 The Jewish Defense League (JDL) is founded in New York by followers of Rabbi Meir Kahane,
The Reconstuctionist Rabbinical College is established.
1969 Philip Roth publishes “Portnoy’s Complaint,” a comic novel of the American Jewish experience that is scandalously candid about sex. The book comes to define American Jewish literature in the 1960s and is later named by the Modern Library as one of the top 100 books of the 20th century.
Association for Jewish Studies founded
1970 Jewish population estimated to reach between 5.37 and 6 million
1971 Touro College is founded in New York City.
“Ms. Magazine,” a new feminist publication, is launched. Its founders include Jewish feminists Gloria Steinem and Letty Cottin Pogrebin. Ezrat Nashim, a Conservative women’s organization, is founded and calls “for an end to the second-class status of women in Jewish life.”
1972 The Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion ordains the first woman rabbi, Sally Priesand.
Palestinian terrorists kill eleven Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics. Against this tragic backdrop, U.S. swimmer Mark Spitz becomes the first person to win seven gold medals in a single Olympics.
1973 The Yom Kippur War begins when Egypt and Syria attack Israel. Israel again emerges victorious.
The first National Jewish Women’s Conference is held in New York, attended by over 400 women
1974 CLAL (National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership) is founded as an interdenominational think tank and leadership training institute. Its founders believe that Judaism is at the beginning of a new era in which new forms are emerging in a “spirit of experimentation and re-imagination.”
1975 The UN passes a resolution equating Zionism with racism.
Leonard Fein and Elie Wiesel found “Moment Magazine,” which will become the U.S.’s largest independent Jewish monthly.
1976 Lilith, the Jewish feminist magazine, begins publication
Irving Howe publishes “World of Our Fathers,” a history of immigrant Jewish culture that tops the bestseller list for several weeks. Saul Bellow wins a Nobel Prize in literature for a body of work that includes “The Adventures of Augie March,” “Henderson the Rain King,” “Herzog,” and “Mr. Sammler’s Planet.”
1978 Yiddish writer Isaac Bashevis Singer is awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature
1979 The Drisha Institute for Jewish Education, the world’s first center for women’s advanced study of Jewish classical texts, is founded. Beverly Sills becomes the first woman and first singer to serve as general director of the New York City Opera.
Israel and Egypt sign a peace treaty.
1980 A young graduate student, Aaron Lansky, starts rescuing old Yiddish books from cellars, attics, abandoned buildings, and dumpsters with the help of other volunteers. Their work leads to the creation of the National Yiddish Book Center in Massachusetts and to a MacArthur Award for Lansky.
First Jewish film festival is held in San Francisco
1982 Nathan and Ruth Perlmutter publish “The Real Anti-Semitism in America,” claiming that while overt anti-Semitism might be on the wane, a new threat has arisen: an indifference to the importance of Israel to the Jewish people on the part of people who would ordinarily never think of themselves as bigots.
1983 The Jewish Theological Seminary faculty votes to ordain women as rabbis.
Rabbi Shlomo Riskin of New York’s Lincoln Square Synagogue founds Efrat, a settlement in the West Bank.
1984 The Central Conference of American Rabbis adopts a resolution accepting the principle of patrilineal identity.
Madeleine M. Kunin is elected governor of Vermont, becoming the first Jewish woman governor in the United States
Shoshana Cardin of Baltimore becomes the first woman president of the National Council of Jewish Federations
The media begins to take note of the increasing number of American Jews who are becoming interested in traditional Judaism, including Hasidism. “The New York Times Magazine” publishes a piece called “American Jews Rediscover Orthodoxy.”
1985-90 The U.S.S.R. falls apart. Numerous Russian Jews immigrate to the United States.
1986 Elie Wiesel wins Nobel Peace Prize
1987 The Conservative movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary of America begins granting cantorial diplomas to women. The first International Kosher Food and Jewish Life Expo are held at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York. More than 50,000 people attend.
1988 The Conservative movement publishes “Emet ve-Emunah” (Truth and Faith), a statement of the basic principles of Conservative Judaism.
1992 The first Jewish women senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, are elected to the U.S. Senate – representing California
1993 Ruth Bader Ginsburg becomes first Jewish woman Supreme Court justice
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum opens in Washington, D.C.
The Israelis and Palestinian Arabs seek to reconcile their political differences.
1994 Death of Menahem Mendel Schneerson, seventh Lubavitcher rebbe, who spread his movement across the United States and the world. His demise heightens messianic fervor among some of his followers, while the Lubavitch movement continues to grow.
1996 The Reform movement’s Central Conference of American Rabbis issues a resolution recognizing the right of gays and lesbians to civil marriages.
1999 New “Statement of Principles for Reform Judaism” invites Reform Jews to engage in a dialogue with tradition and calls for renewed attention to mitzvot, sacred obligations.
2000 Jewish population: between 5.34 and 6.16 million
Senator Joseph Lieberman nominated for the vice-presidency on the Democratic Party ticket, the first Jew ever to be nominated for this post by a major political party. The ticket wins a plurality of the votes, but loses the election
2001 On September 11, the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history takes place when Al Qaeda terrorists hijack airplanes and use them as missiles, destroying the World Trade Center in New York and damaging the Pentagon. Another plane, thought to be heading for Washington, D.C., crashes in Pennsylvania. Nearly 3,000 people are killed. Attacks spread fear through the Jewish community leading to heightened security and a renewed sense of patriotism.
2002 Surveys point to a decline in America’s Jewish population, the first since the colonial era.
2003 The space shuttle Columbia explodes on its way back to earth, killing all seven of its astronauts, including, Ilan Ramon, the first Israeli astronaut.
2004 American Jewish community celebrates 350th anniversary of Jewish life in America
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