Sephardic Jews in America
Sephardic Jews' immigration to the United States allowed for a cultural transformation of the Jewish Religion and propelled a vision of the United States as inclusive of religions.
For centuries, Sephardic Jews have been faced with hardships that would have forced many others to give up and lose faith in their religion. From the abrupt exile from Spain in 1492, to being forced to convert from Judaism in Portugal, Jewish people were put in a position to fail, with little to no resources. Prior to 1881, mass immigration from Europe and the Ottoman Empire was on the rise and Jews began to relocate to what is now the United States of America. Given the freedoms of the United States, Jews assimilated into American society by contributing socially, politically, and economically. Sephardic Jews' immigration to the United States allowed for a cultural transformation of the Jewish Religion and propelled a vision of religious inclusivity in the United States.
U.S. Immigration and Settlement
The first group of Sephardic Jews arrived in North America from Brazil in 1654. They fled after the reconquest of Brazil by the Portuguese and arrived in New Amsterdam which is now New York. Under the Dutch control of the colonies between the years of 1654 to 1664, the first and only established Sephardic Jewish community was located in New York City (Marcus, 1970, 251).
In addition to the large colonization of Sephardic Jews in New York, many Sephardic Jews were also drawn to and settled in Newport, Rhode Island. The Jewish congregation was formed by mostly Jews from Barbados around 1658 (Hart, 2016, 163). Both Rhode Island and New York were states known to have high levels of religious tolerance. This attracted Jews to settle in these areas due to the ability to live as Jews relatively freely.