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Congregational History

Congregation Shearith Israel, the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, was founded in 1654, the first Jewish congregation to be established in North America.


Our links to the past are made tangible by our everyday use and display of ritual treasures and historic relics.


Members of Shearith Israel left their mark on history, both in terms of their contributions to the congregation and in terms of their contributions to the civic life of New York and America.

Synagogue Buildings

Over the centuries Congregation Shearith Israel has been housed in five different synagogue buildings and established at least four cemeteries.


Shearith Israel's cemeteries are critical to the preservation and transmission of our congregational story.  Three historic and one active cemetery are maintained by the congregation and each has a tale to tell.

Commemorative Synagogue Plates

Plates depicting Shearith Israel's five historic synagogue buildings as well the Touro Synagogue in Newport, RI.

Chatham Square Cemetery

The oldest of our extant cemeteries is known as the Chatham Square Cemetery.  It is located in Chinatown at 55 St. James Place.  The land was originally purchased in 1682 by Joseph Bueno de Mesquita.