Religion: Under the Fig Tree

When the Portuguese conquered the Dutch colony of Recife on the coast of Brazil in 1654, they gave the Jewish settlers the same terms as the Protestant Dutch: accept the Roman Catholic faith or get out. Some of the Recife Jews who chose to get out were (according to one account) captured by pirates on the high seas, then rescued by the French privateer St. Charles. In September 1654, the St.

Charles landed its 23 Jewish passengers—men, women and children—at the nearest Dutch port, New Amsterdam (pop. 800). They were the first Jewish settlers...

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