Thursday, November 6, 2008

Spanish Louie: The Sephardic Moses Of Crime?

an excerpt from the six for five blog
The long heritage line of New York’s Jewish gangland has generally been tied to the descendant roots of Eastern Europe, Germany and Russia. It’s the pre-dominant Jewish American denomination known as Ashkenazim, whose ancestors started pouring into New York and beyond in mass numbers starting around 1880. But while Ashkenazi Jews quickly came to define the American Jew simply because of their sheer numbers, they weren’t the first to arrive. In September 1654, the first twenty-three Jews to ever set foot on North American soil had made their way up from Brazil by ship to settle in then New Amsterdam. They had found themselves refugees once again, spill over results of the Spanish Inquisition already one hundred and sixty-two years old. When the Portuguese re-conquered Brazil in that same year, they were expelled from another continent yet again, the perennial wandering Jew. They were Sephardic, Jews of Spanish and Portuguese descent that during the initial inquisition had spread out to the rest of Europe with a high percentage stopping in Holland. With language as impetus, many others braved an Atlantic crossing and made their way to South America with a majority choosing Argentina as the final stop. Upon their New Amsterdam arrival, the twenty-three were not received with the open door policy that was to take place two hundred years later. Governor Peter Stuyvesant looked at expelling these new strangers almost immediately, but The Dutch West India Company, with the help of a few well place Jews in Holland, denied his request. It would take another ten years, in 1664, after the British took over and re-christened the town New York, would these Jews be given some standard civil rights, and foundations in building new lives were laid. By 1700 well over three hundred Jews had arrived in the country, and by 1706, they established their first Synagogue, the Spanish – Portuguese Congregation Shearith Israel, which still stands today at 8 West 70th St. It’s a long shot to say if John ‘Spanish Louie’ Lewis’s descendants were among those three hundred, but he is an anomaly as possibly the only known Jewish hoodlum of Sephardic descent.

folow the link above to read the rest

No comments: