Just about 353 years ago . . .

It was January 26, 1654 when some 150 Jewish families fled Brazil seeking refuge from religious persecution. The group was intercepted by Spanish ships and had to land in Jamaica. From there a smaller group of 23 Jewish people joined with a group of Dutch Calvinists on a small French frigate and sailed with them to the colony of New Amsterdam (now New York City), where they settled and became the first permanent Jewish community in North America.