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Spotlight on the Walking Tours: Shearith Israel

Posted: Nov 19, 2014 | 11:17 PM
by Vincent Santangelo
On our public "Jewish Community of Colonial New Amsterdam" walking tour, participants visit the Chatham Square cemetery of Congregation Shearith Israel. Also known as the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, Shearith Israel was founded in 1654, making it the oldest congregation in the United States. Until 1825, it was the only Jewish congregation in the the country, and so it claimed the membership of every Jew in New York. After moving from location to location, in 1897 the congregation moved uptown, settling in a beautiful neoclassical building at 70th Street and Central Park West. The space boasts amazing windows designed and created by Louis Comfort Tiffany, the son of Tiffany and Co. founder Charles Lewis Tiffany. Shearith Israel possesses four cemeteries, one of which is active. We visit Chatham not only because it is conveniently location in Chinatown, but also because it is one of the oldest cemeteries in New York, second only to nearby Trinity Churchyard. Come along and learn about the history of this site and the annual rituals that are performed there!