The Jews have aided their own poor since their arrival in America in 1654, a history of Jewish charities in New York City as given out by the Jewish Social Service Association reveals.
When Stuyvesant was Governor of New Amsterdam in 1654, twenty-three Portuguese Jews, refugees from unjust treatment in Brazil, arrived in the harbor. Some could not pay their full passage, but the group sold all its personal belongings to meet that obligation so as to land solvent. Stuyvesant refused to let them remain, but when they appealed to the directors of the Dutch West Indies Company, which was equivalent to “going over the head” of the Governor, a historic reply was forthcoming:
“Unreasonable and unfair to exclude Jews from the American Colony . . . they shall have permission to sail to and trade in New Netherlands and to live and remain there . . . provided the poor among them shall not become a burden to the company or the community, but be supported by their own nation.”
The proposition was accepted and the Jews have continued to care for their poor ever since, the history of Jewish charities here shows.