The First Jewish Americans: Freedom and Culture in the New World at New-York Historical Society & Museum,
 October 28, 2016 – February 26, 2017

“In New Mexico several decades ago, some descendants of the earliest Spanish settlers shared their observations with researchers about distinct rituals practiced by parents and grandparents that differed from those of their fellow Catholics. Why, they had long wondered, did they light candles on Friday night and abstain from pork?

What ensued was a broadened understanding of the stories of America’s earliest Jews. Some, who had been forcibly converted to Catholicism, secretly perpetuated their beliefs across generations. Others, beckoned by the allures of liberty, proudly founded the first synagogues on American soil and thereby entrenched a tradition of religious diversity in American life.

This exhibition goes to the heart of these remarkable Jewish and American stories. Drawing on the extraordinary Princeton University Jewish American Collection, gift of Mr. Leonard L. Milberg, Class of 1953, and Mr. Leonard L. Milberg’s personal collection, together with art, objects, and documents from the New-York Historical Society and other collections, the exhibition follows the familiar and unfamiliar pathways taken by Jews to these shores, as well as their efforts to adapt to their new homeland. Their experience remade Jewish life as much as it remade America. They helped to broaden freedom and culture in the early United States, leading the way to full social, cultural, and political participation for millions of Jewish Americans, and many more others, in the United States today.” — Introductory Wall Text

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Exhibition entrance. Photograph by Corrado Serra for Arts Summary.

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Installation view. Photograph by Corrado Serra for Arts Summary.

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Luis de Carvajal the Younger (ca. 1567-1596). Memorias autobiographical manuscripts , ca. 1595, with devotional manuscripts. Manuscript leaves, 3 volumes, each stitched into plain wrappers. Courtesy of the Government of Mexico. Image courtesy New-York Historical Society.

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Installation view. Photograph by Corrado Serra for Arts Summary.

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Installation view. Photograph by Corrado Serra for Arts Summary.

(attributed to) Gerardus Duyckinck (1695-1746)Portrait of Abigaill Levy Franksca. 1735Oil on canvas

Gerardus Duyckinck I (1695-1746). Mrs. Jacob (Abigaill Levy) Franks (1696-1756). Oil on canvas. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas. Image courtesy New-York Historical Society.

(attributed to) Gerardus Duyckinck (1695-1746)Portrait of Jacob Franksca. 1735Oil on canvas

Gerardus Duyckinck I (1695-1746). Jacob Franks (1688-1769). Oil on canvas. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas. Image courtesy New-York Historical Society.

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Front: Myer Myers. Rimonim, 1765-1776. Silver and brass with parcel gilding. Congregation Shearith Israel, New York City. Installation view photograph by Corrado Serra for Arts Summary.

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Installation view. Photograph by Corrado Serra for Arts Summary.

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Installation view. Photograph by Corrado Serra for Arts Summary.

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Installation view. Photograph by Corrado Serra for Arts Summary.

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Thomas Sully. Rebecca Gratz, 1831. Oil on panel. The Rosenbach Museum and Library. Image courtesy New-York Historical Society.

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Installation view. Photograph by Corrado Serra for Arts Summary.

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Installation view. Photograph by Corrado Serra for Arts Summary.

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Installation view. Photograph by Corrado Serra for Arts Summary.

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Installation view. Photograph by Corrado Serra for Arts Summary.

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Installation view. Photograph by Corrado Serra for Arts Summary.

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Installation view. Photograph by Corrado Serra for Arts Summary.

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Installation view. Photograph by Corrado Serra for Arts Summary.

Camille Pissarro (French, 1830 - 1903 ), Two Women Chatting by the Sea, St. Thomas, 1856, oil on canvas, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon

Camille Pissarro (1830-1903). Two Women Chatting by the Sea, St. Thomas, 1856. Oil on canvas. National Gallery of Art, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon. Image courtesy National Gallery of Art.

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Installation view. Photograph by Corrado Serra for Arts Summary.

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Solomon Nunes Carvalho. Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim, Interior, 1838. Oil on canvas. Collection of Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim. Image courtesy New-York Historical Society.

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Installation view. Photograph by Corrado Serra for Arts Summary.