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Synagogues of Manhattan, New York

Translated and Illustrated by
Holly Harlayne Roberts

This book is a photographic journey of the synagogues of Manhattan, New York. The journey begins in 1654, when a ship carrying the first group of Jews to inhabit North America landed on a small island off the Atlantic coast, known to the Lenape Indians as ‘Manhattan.’ This group of Sephardic Jews had been forced to leave Brazil when the Portuguese captured it from the Dutch, bringing the Spanish Inquisition with them. Over the next two hundred years, small groups of Jews from around the world began immigrating to New York City. Outside Israel, New York City has the world’s largest Jewish community. Over twenty-one percent of Manhattan’s 1,585,873 residents are Jewish. Manhattan’s Synagogues cover the gamut of Jewish diversity, from enormous to quaint, ultraorthodox to reform, Ashkenazi to Sephardic, and wealthy to ‘just skimming by.’ And, all congregations share the desire to preserve Judaism’s ancient and sacred heritage, to inspire the children, to follow tradition, and most of all, to praise and honor G-d. It could not be mere coincidence that Manhattan, the tiny island where Jews first set foot in North America over 350 years ago, and where Jews have been permitted to thrive ever since, would become the largest and most prosperous city in all America. For is it not written - The Lord said to Abram: “And I will bless those who bless you,” “And all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you.” Bereishis – Genesis – Chapter 12:2-3.

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