January 26, 1654: MAJOR DATE IN THE HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN JEWISH COMMUNITY. With the capture of Pernambuco (Recife) from the Dutch, Portugal retook Peru and Brazil. The Jews, (numbering approximately 5,000) having fought on the side of the Dutch, fled for the most part to Amsterdam. Hundreds also escaped to North America, with 23 eventually arriving in New Amsterdam.
OMG! Jewish refugees arriving in a foreign country to re-settle. What other time in history does this remind you of? Sure … the gradual immigration and re-settlement of Jews in Palestine who were escaping certain death in Nazi Europe during World War II. So, it’s an indicator of the virulent and persistent hatred of the Arabs that the anti-Jewish violence remains in Judea and Samaria today. Other than Peter Stuyvesant and a few mostly impotent members of the KKK, Jews did not meet with nearly as much violent resistance to their presence in America. Opposition from the indigenous peoples, the Native Americans, was non-existent compared to the kind the Jews met with in the Middle East. Mostly because white Europeans decimated the Native American population with armed violence and smallpox, leaving them in a position to not be aware that Jews were “invading” New Amsterdam. Also, Arabs had state sponsors like Iran, Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon to fund their attacks on Jews seeking sanctuary in their 3,000 year-old homeland, while Native Americans were totally disenfranchised.
But the date is cause for celebration in the annals of American Jewish history. Thank G-d, he saw fit to bring us to this great country!
Nearby is a U.S. postage stamp commemorating the 300th anniversary of New York City with a scene that would have been characteristic of New Amsterdam in the late 17th century.