Here is a virtually complete list of persons identifiable as Jews in America by 1800, the result of a thorough search of manuscript materials and published literature for the names of Jews who lived in America (including Canada up to 1783) during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. No other study provides comparable information for such an ethnic group in this country.
Each entry in this dictionary is accompanied by birth and death dates and places and other biographical data so far as they are available. The biographies vary from two lines recording the birth of an unnamed stillborn child or the presence of a transient in New York City to half-column summaries of the careers of well-known persons. Included are converts to Christianity and, in some instances, their children. Persons whose names or associations have resulted in their being incorporated into earlier lists of “Jews” are noted also, with an attempt to ascertain their identity.
Especially noteworthy is the small number of Jews in America during the two centuries before 1800. Only about 4,000 Jews, of whom 1,500 were native-born, have been identified in this dictionary — and not all of these positively. Perhaps another 800 have been omitted, Rosenbloom points out, because their names are not included in extant records. Even so, it would appear that the percentage of Jews in the total colonial population (less than three million in 1783) was infinitesimal.
Students of the American colonial period will find this book a useful tool for ascertaining the national origins of American Jews, their occupations, their part in the Revolution, their places of settlement, and other historical and sociological data.