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A Portion of the People
First Families This Happy Land · Pledging Allegiance · Palmetto Jews 
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Sephardim in the New World illustrated by 'An Exact Prospect of Charlestown'
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An Exact Prospect of Charles Town, June 9, 1739
Painted by Bishop Roberts
Engraved by William Henri Toms
London Magazine, 1762
Engraving with watercolor
Private collection

Carolina’s first Jewish families included people of both Sephardic and Ashkenazic origin. The roots of the Sephardim lay in Spain and Portugal, the Ashkenasim in the German-speaking lands of central Europe.

The day in August 1492 that Columbus planned to lift anchor in the Spanish port of Palos, the harbor was clogged with ships taking Jews to exile. Driven out by the Inquisition, Sephardic families gravitated toward commercial centers in the Ottoman Empire, the Mediterranean states, central and western Europe, and the West Indies. The DeLeons, for example, came to America via Holland and Jamaica, the D’Anconas via Venice and Amsterdam.

By the time the first Sephardim arrived in Carolina, their culture was a blend of languages, rituals, folkways, cuisines, philosophies, and arts. Wherever they settled the Iberian Jews engaged in a rigorous exchange with the societies that gave them refuge.

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Last updated: Wednesday, September 18, 2019