About the Collection
This collection began when I was doing research for Messianism, Secrecy, and Mysticism: A New Interpretation of Early American Jewish Life. In this book, I am interested in the ways in which colonial American Judaism was as much an embodied religion as it was a textual or faith-based practice. That is, I argue that we should think of colonial American Jews as a “people of the body” as well as a “people of the book,” and I look to the ways that everyday objects helped define and create Jewish identity. By sharing the images used to create this book, I hope to enable students, scholars, and family historians to trace the paths that early American Jews (and their objects) took, as well as to gain a richer sense of their everyday lives. In the collection, you will find images from many of the key ports where Jews settled in North America and the Caribbean, as well as several crucial ports from which they immigrated (Amsterdam, London, Hamburg). You will also find comparison images for non-Jewish artifacts to help people understand both what made Jewish life distinctive and how Jews adapted to meet local tastes and trends.
If you would like to learn more about the religious life of early American Jews and the objects they used, please feel free to order a copy of Messianism, Secrecy, and Mysticism: A New Interpretation of Early American Jewish Life from ISBS or Amazon.com. Purchase of the book is optional, however; this website is freely available to the public as an educational, not-for-profit tool for teaching and learning.
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