Congregation Shearith Israel
Founded in 1654, Congregation Shearith Israel is the oldest Jewish congregation in North America. Its current temple is a historic structure built in 1897. The congregation, which has remained Orthodox since its inception, was the only one in New York until 1825. As such, it was the center of Jewish life for that entire time. It was founded by 23 Jews of Spanish and Portuguese origin living in Recife, Brazil. They traveled to New York (at that time it was a small Dutch colony called New Amsterdam) to escape the Inquisition bought by the Portuguese, who defeated the Dutch to capture control of Recife. The congregation today remains a center of Orthodox life in the city, offering educational and religious programming for children and adults, as well as other activities.
Backstory and Context