The Beginnings of a Community
The American Jewish community began as a small band of approximately two dozen refugees - "twenty-three souls, big and little" - fleeing from Recife, Brazil in 1654. Although the Jewish community remained small over the next one hundred and seventy years, the precedents set during this early period would be felt throughout the course of the American Jewish experience. The Jews of early America were among the first in the modern world to intermingle so freely within the general society. Successive waves of immigrants would face many of the same religious, social, and communal challenges as did these first American Jewish pioneers.