Friday, 2 December 2011

Jews in the United States, 1795

I would assume that Sephardim constituted a large proportion of the Jewish population in the early United States, but I don't know what percentage.

JEWS. The Jews are not numerous in the United States. They have, however, synagogues at Savannah, Charleston, (South Carolina) Philadelphia, New York, and Newport, Besides those who reside at these places, there are others scattered in different towns in the United States.

The Jews in Charleston, among other peculiarities in burying their dead, have these: After the funeral dirge is sung, and just before the corpse is deposited in the grave, the coffin is opened, and a small bag of earth, taken from the grave, is carefully put under the head of the deceased; then some powder, said to be earth brought from Jerusalem, and carefully kept for this purpose, is taken and put upon the: eyes of the corpse, in token of their remembrance of the holy land, and of their expectations of returning thither in God's appointed time.

The articles of their faith are well known, and therefore need no description. They generally expect a glorious return to the Holy Land, when they shall be exalted above all the nations of the earth. And they flatter themselves that the period of their return will speedily arrive, though they do not venture to fix the precise time.

The whole number of persons who profess the Jewish religion, in all parts of the world, is supposed to be about three millions, who, as their phrase is, are witnesses of the unity of God in all the nations in the world.

Source: William Winterbotham. An historical, geographical, commercial, and philosophical view of the American United States, and of the European Settlements - America and the West-Indies, Volume 1. 1795

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