NEW YORK (Dec. 27)
Plans for a nationwide celebration of the 300th anniversary of the settlement of Jews in the United States were announced here today at a press conference by Ralph E. Samuel, chairman of the Committee on Organization for the celebration. Initiated by the American Jewish Historical Society and the American Jewish Committee, the celebration will take place in 1954 and 1955.
Mr. Samuel reported that tentative plans for the tercentenary celebration call for publication of books and documents on the history of the Jews in America; historial exhibits, special ceremonies at various national shrines, interfaith meetings and many other types of celebration.
“Nearly three centuries have elapsed since September 1654, when the first Jews arrived in New Amsterdam in search of religious freedom,” he said at a press conference. “While building a flourishing American Judaism, Jews in America have joined with their fellow citizens of all faiths and origins in the creation of the American democratic civilization that we have today.”
The Tercentenary Celebration of Jewish Settlement in the United States, Mr. Samuel declared, will be an occasion for demonstrating to the world once more the tremendous potential of democracy, as symbolized in this land, where people of every faith, race and origin work together in the service of humanity’s highest ideals.
“For American Jews. “he stated, “the tercentenary will provide an opportunity to reflect on the tradition of religious freedom and equality in the United States, the first country in the world to insist on the equality of all its citizens and the complete freedom of religion. This still vigorous tradition justifies our confidence in the future as we strive to make the American reality correspond more closely to the American ideal.”
The history of the Jews in the United States was traced at the press conference by Dr. David de Sola Pool, official historian for the celebration and present rabbi of the Spanish Portuguese Synagogue, first synagogue in America, which was established nearly 300 years ago by the Congregation Shearith-Israel.