PORTUGUESE SEPHARDIM PIONEERS IN
On July 4th we remember:
Isaac Pinto, 1766, Colonial New York, translator from Hebrew to English of a High Holiday prayer book, the first in the
David Da Costa, tobacco importer , Virginia, 1658.
Judah Monis, author of the first complete Hebrew grammar in the
Dr. Jacob Lumbrozo,
Aaron Lopez (born Duarte Lopez in
James Lucena, who introduced soap manufacturing in the 13 colonies.
Reverend Gershom Mendes Seixas, the first American-born rabbi in 1768 of the first Jewish congregation in the USA, Shearith Israel in New York city.
Francis Salvador, a plantation owner in Carolina, the “Southern Paul Revere” , the first Jew in America to die for his country leading a small army of 330 men against a British attack.
Benjamin Nones (Nunes), 1777, America’s first Jewish major.
Haim Hendricks (Henriques), New Jersey, 1812, the first copper-rolling mill in America.
Major Mordecai Manuel Noah, the first American Zionist (there is a legend that Washington attended the wedding of his Sephardic mother and Ashkenazi father), who purchased 2,555 acres on Grand island in the Niagara River northwest of Buffalo, for a temporary haven for all Jews before their eventual return to the Holy Land.
Mordecai Manuel Noah (1785-1851)
David Carvalho Nunes, one of the dissenters from the largest and richest synagogue in America, Kahal Kodesh Beth Elohim of Charleston, who contributed to the creation of the first Reform congregation in America.
Kahal Kodesh Beth Elohim of Charleston which burned down.
Solomon Nunes Carvalho, a descendant of Portugal’s enlightened despot of the 18th century who shut down the Inquisition, the Marquis de Pombal, pioneer photographer, painter, explorer and inventor.
Dr. Sabato Morais, founding president of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America which opened in New York in 1886.
Dr. Benjamin Adolph Rodriguez of Charleston, a pioneer dentist in America and inventor of orthodontic devices.
Uriah Phillips Levy, America’s first Jewish Admiral ( Commodore), who ran away to sea at 10 years old. He sucessfully fought to abolish flogging in the navy. He purchased and preserved Thomas Jefferson’s house, a national treasure.
Judah P. Benjamin, the first Jewish statesman, first Jew to be elected to the Senate (1845), the brains of the Confederacy, held three cabinet posts under Confederate president Jefferson Davis. His picture even appeared on confederate money! At 54, he began a new career in England, becoming the first American Jew to become Queen’s Counsel.
Photograph of Judah P. Benjamin (National Archives)
Dr. John De Sequeyra, pioneer in the treatment of the insane and public health.
Jacob da Silva Solomon Solis, teacher and ritual slaughter in New Orleans.
Samuel Ribeiro Nunez, pioneer Georgian doctor straight from the court of Lisbon!
Esther Nunez, pioneer grape grower in Georgia, then farmer in Pennsylvania.
Isaac Miranda, Indian fur trader.
SOURCES They Led the Way, The Creators of Jewish America, Harry A. Ezratty
First Facts in American Jewish History, Tina Levitan
The Jews in Early American, Sandra Cummings Malamed
Jews on the Frontier, Rabbi I. Harold Sharfman