The Jews of 19th Century Boston

The city of Boston has been home to Jews for centuries, since the first Portuguese Jew arrived in 1649. Though there remained a few Jewish individuals and families living in the city for most of its history, and other Jews passed through on business, it was not until almost 200 years later, in 1842, that the first Jewish congregation in Boston was founded.

Why is it that a Jewish community failed to coalesce in Boston for two centuries, while Jews gathered in other colonial cities like Providence and New York, growing and developing synagogue-communities? Furthermore, what happened in the mid-19th century that allowed for this first pioneering congregation?

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by Caro Langenbucher