350 Years of Jews in America

It is probable that several individual Jews settled in America even before the year 1654. However, the beginning of the Jewish community in America was marked by the arrival of 23 Sephardi Jewish refugees fleeing Recife, Brazil, at the port of the Dutch colony: New Amsterdam.

A five-part documentary series, "350 years of Jews in America," is a celebration of the vital contribution the Jews have made to our remarkable country and the unique place America will forever hold in the history of the Jewish people.

During 1,600 years of living in the Diaspora, Jews had never achieved religious freedom and total civil equality. Those first Sephardi Jews who came to America began what turned out to be a very long struggle for equality and the acceptance of diversity in the New World. Never before had the contributions of the Jewish people been so welcomed and highly valued. For the next 350 years, the Jews have remained a driving force in creating an American society where every citizen, regardless of religion, could lead a life of freedom — free from discrimination and bigotry.

Production Concept

For the last 4 years our researchers have conducted an exhausting search for historical documents, maps, pictures, paintings and drawings, family portraits and artifacts relating to the period before photography. We have already begun conducting interviews with individuals and families whose ancestors contributed to Jewish life in generations past. Our aim is to communicate with many varied Jewish communities throughout the US to encourage individuals and organizations to provide us with relevant information so that we may expand the collection of material for the making of the documentary portion of the series.

At this stage of the production's research and development, we will be focusing on the segment dealing with the period 1933 to 1946. We have already assembled hundreds of hours of documentary films and documents relating to this era and are now at the stage where we must conduct personal interviews with witnesses. As time passes, many eye witness accounts become lost to us forever. Thus, speed in the building of production resources is of the essence.

In order to maintain absolute objectivity and independence, funding of this program will be restricted to contributions made by foundations, individuals and corporations who have no commercial vested interest in the project. Therefore, we offer the opportunity for contributors to familiarize themselves with critical issues of international affairs, and modern Jewish history, without promoting any political points of view.

Our Heritage, Inc.
328 Wilton Road
Westport, CT 06880