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The Jewish People

Leaders of the Jewish community and the synagogue were certain that intermarriage threatened the existence of the American Jewish world, and this worry had a foundation because when Jews married gentiles, few continued to live as Jews. Most in fact seem to have assimilated entirely into the Christian population. Intermarriage did not destroy the Jewish community, though, but merely diluted it. In becoming less religious, these Jews were only following the trend in American society as a whole, for only seven percent of Americans were church affiliated in 1800 (18).

By 1800, there were two clear Jewish communities in America, the Sephardic and the Ashkenazic. The Ashkenazic Jews were a part of the colonial Jewish economy and community. They were Jews from Poland and Germany who had organized a congregation in Amsterdam by 1635. From there, several joined the Iberian Jews as they moved to North America. More followed in the eighteenth century. Larger Sephardic communities had already been established. There were some tensions between the two groups because their rituals, liturgies, and Hebrew pronunciations differed, as did their vernaculars, Ladino and Yiddish. They had a shared heritage, however, which drew them together (14-15).

As noted, the two primary Jewish groups were the Sephardic and Ashkenazic jews. The Sephardic Jews were originally Dutch, while the Ashkenazic je


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