The oldest Jewish cemetery in the United States would probably be an official historical landmark site today, but no one knows where it’s located.
Shortly after the original group of 23 Jews from Brazil arrived in then-New Amsterdam in 1654, they founded Congregation Shearith Israel then successfully petitioned city authorities to establish a Jewish burial ground on “a little hook of land,” most likely on the sparsely developed island of Manhattan.
David Grubin’s epic documentary about Jewish life and accommodation in the United States begins and ends with scenes of the ship that brought 23 Jews fleeing the Inquisition in Brazil to safety in New Amsterdam. In between, over the six hours of "The Jewish Americans," are such staples of American-Jewish history as Congregation Shearith Israel in Manhattan, the immigrant experience on the Lower East Side and the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire.
But it’s more than New York City.
Separate groups representing Sephardic Jews around the world have for the first time come together to form the World Sephardic Congress, a united voice to advocate for reparations on behalf of Sephardic Jews forced to flee Arab lands.
Sephardic philanthropist Sami Shamoon, president of the Sephardi Federation of the United Kingdom, was named interim president of the new WSC, which was launched at a gathering last Sunday at the Center for Jewish History in Manhattan.
If you were walking the blue-carpeted aisles of the Javits Convention Center this week, sampling the items at the 16th Kosherfest food and food service trade show, you noticed some familiar names. Empire. Osem. Gold’s. Jackie Mason — as in Jackie Mason’s Cheesecake.
And you also saw some relatively new names, like Lilly, Carol Ann, Rosie, Aunt Gussie and Steve’s Mom — women’s names.
For the last quarter-century, Jewish Renewal has been a grassroots, anti-establishment movement embraced by Jews searching for spirituality in their lives. Now, itís becoming mainstream.
One of the four pillars of the new United Jewish Communities is being called Jewish Renaissance and Renewal. Its 36-member committee is slated to meet in Washington next month to develop ways to make Jewish life more meaningful. Because it is to be the committee's first meeting, it is unclear which areas it plans to address.