The tour begins at the flagpole in Peter Minuit Park near the Staten Island ferry that commemorates the arrival in 1654 of 23 Jews in Lower Manhattan (then New Amsterdam) after a harrowing journey from Recife Brazil.
The tour will include the first synagogue in North America at 23 South William Street (today a parking garage). Also included will be early American Jewish leaders as Jacob Franks, Gershom Mendes Seixas, the patriot rabbi of Congregation Shearith Israel who led the fight for religious tolerance in New York State, and Mordecai Noah, the playwright, journalist, failed diplomat, failed real estate developer, and Tammany Hall politician who was the leading spokesman for American Jewish causes in the early 19th century.
The tour will feature the stories of German Jewish émigrés such as Joseph Seligman, the Lehman Brothers, Jacob Schiff, Otto Kahn and Marcus Goldman who became prominent Wall Street financiers and whose wealth supported Jewish causes around the world.
The tour will conclude with a discussion of how the New York Jewish community mobilized to encourage Franklin Roosevelt’s fight against Hitler and the American Jewish community was instrumental in the founding of the State of Israel. For example, how Eddie Jacobson, a Kansas City haberdasher, convinced his former partner President Harry Truman, to overrule the U.S. Secretary of State and the entire U.S. State Department to support the U.N. resolution providing for the partition of Palestine.
The tour is led by attorney and walking-tour historian James S. Kaplan, who was initially commissioned by the Shearith Israel League to prepare a walking tour for the 350th Anniversary of Congregation Shearith Israel (the Congregation formed on Arrival Day in 1654) and who has been updating the tour each year since.
The tour will be held at 1:30 PM on Sunday, September 29, 2013 (rain or shine). The cost of the tour is $20. Participants should sign up by sending a check to the Temple of Universal Judaism, 1010 Park Avenue, New York, New York 10036, or visiting the Temple of Universal Judaism website. For more information call 1-212-471-8546.
Illustration: Congregation Shearith Israel, 19th St. Bldg (1860) originally published in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper (Sept. 29, 1860).