Today in Jewish History – Adar 16

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In 1656, Governor Peter Stuyvesant of New Amsterdam refused to grant the Jews permission to build a synagogue. Stuyvesant was infamous for his anti-Semitism. In 1654 he wrote: “The Jews who have arrived would nearly all like to remain here, but… [we have] deemed it useful to require them in a friendly way to depart… that the deceitful race — such hateful enemies and blasphemers of the name of Christ — not be allowed further to infect and trouble this new colony.” Jews were spared eviction because the Dutch West Indian Company was heavily dependent on Jewish investments. Stuyvesant contented himself with subjecting the Jews to indignities: He denied them the right to serve in the military and forced them to pay extra taxes. As for Stuyvesant’s refusal to allow a synagogue, history would take revenge: On this same date in 1897, Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary was incorporated as America’s first Orthodox Jewish rabbinical seminary.

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