1492-1695 | 1700s | 1800s | 1900s | 2000s
Year World Events American Jewish Events American Events


Jewish population estimated at 2,500 (.04 percent of total population)

Thomas Jefferson after Gilbert Stuart, ca. 1828.

Thomas Jefferson is elected president



First Ashkenazic synagogue in America, Rodeph Shalom (Pursuit of Peace), is established in Philadelphia

First American Jewish orphan care agency, the Hebrew Orphan Society, is incorporated in Charleston, South Carolina





Louisiana Purchase expands U.S. territory west of the Mississippi River

1804 Napoleon Bonaparte after Jacques Louis David, ca. 1900s.

Napoleon is crowned Emperor of France

Captains Lewis and Clark, sketch 1810

Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery begin their journey of exploration


Official end to the Holy Roman Empire


Lewis and Clark return


Napoleon convenes French "Sanhedrin," a council of Jewish notables






Congress declares war on England



The Late M.M. Noah in the Boston Museum, 1851.

Mordecai Manuel Noah is appointed United States Consul at Tunis in North Africa


1814 Page from the first Hebrew Bible published in the U.S., 1814

First American Hebrew Bible is published in Philadelphia by Thomas Dobson, using a text prepared by Jonathan (Jonas) Horwitz

U.S. Capitol after Burning by the British by George Munger, ca. 1814.

British army attacks Washington and burns the Capitol and the Library of Congress




War of 1812 ends



A Map of Cincinnati, 1836

First Jews settle in Cincinnati



First Jewish Reform movement temple is established in Hamburg, Germany





Rebecca Gratz, ca. 1860s.

In Philadelphia, Rebecca Gratz establishes the first independent Jewish women's charitable society, the Female Hebrew Benevolent Society

Florida is purchased from Spain

The Savannah becomes the first steamship to cross the Atlantic



Jews from the German lands begin to immigrate to America in substantial numbers








The first American Jewish periodical, The Jew, is published in New York

Monroe Doctrine is publicly declared, announcing that the United States will not tolerate European interference in the Western Hemisphere

1824 Ludwig von Beethoven

Beethoven completes the Ninth Symphony

Isaac Leeser, later to become a leader of the traditional wing of American Jewry, arrives in the United States




Mordecai Manuel Noah founds Ararat, a Jewish city of refuge on Grand Island in the Niagara River near Buffalo, New York

Reformed Society of Israelites is established in Charleston

Erie Canal

Erie Canal is completed



Speeches on the Jew Bill, 1829

Maryland Assembly passes the "Jew Bill," removing restrictions that prevented Jews from holding public office



Jewish adolescents become subject to Russian conscription law, with military service beginning as early as age 12 and lasting more than 25 years





Early B&O Railroad Locomotive

Construction of first railroad, Baltimore-Ohio, in the U.S.

Noah Webster publishes his American Dictionary of the English Language



Fancy's Sketch Book by Penina Moise, 1833

Penina Moise's Fancy's Sketch Book, the first book by an American Jewish woman, is published in Charleston, South Carolina




Service for the Two First Nights of the Passover: First American Edition, 1837

First American Passover Haggadah is published in New York by Solomon Jackson




Rebecca Gratz establishes the first Hebrew Sunday School in Philadelphia



Jews are accused of murdering a Franciscan friar in the Damascus (Syria) blood libel, an ancient slander alleging that Jews murder Christians to obtain blood for Passover or other ritual use

Jewish population reaches 15,000 (.09 percent of total population)

Abraham Rice, America's first ordained rabbi, emigrates from Bavaria.

First organized movement by American Jewry to protest Damascus blood libel




B'nai B'rith certificate, 1876

B'nai B'rith, a national Jewish fraternal organization, is organized in New York

The influential monthly periodical, The Occident and Jewish Advocate, edited by Isaac Leeser, appears




Samuel Morse sends first telegraph transmission from Washington to Baltimore, which reads: "What hath God wrought?"

1846 Harper's Weekly, 1880.

Potato famine in Ireland, through 1849

Isaac Mayer Wise, later a leader of the Reform wing of American Jewry, arrives in the United States

A mutual aid society for Jewish women, later known as the United Order of True Sisters, is founded in New York, with lodges in major cities. It becomes the first national Jewish women's organization

U.S.-Mexican War


Political upheaval in Central Europe

Influx of Jews from German lands, spurred by political unrest in central Europe

California Gold Rush begins

First women's rights convention in U.S. is held in Seneca Falls, New York



First High Holiday services are held in San Francisco




Washington Hebrew Congregation is established, the first synagogue in the District of Columbia

Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe is published

1853 Calvary Camp Near Balaklava by Roger Fenton, 1855.

Crimean War begins between Russia and the Ottoman Empire

Isaac Leeser publishes his translation of the Bible from the Hebrew into English




Isaac Mayer Wise begins publishing The Israelite




The Divine Service by Isaac M. Wise, 1866

Isaac Mayer Wise introduces his "Minhag America" (American Rite) prayer book, hoping (in vain) that it would be adopted by all of America's Jews

Supreme Court denies citizenship to African Americans


Edgar Mortara, an Italian Jewish child, abducted by Papal Guards, is placed in a monastery, and ultimately becomes a priest




Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species by Natural Selection is published

In response to the Mortara Affair, the Board of Delegates of American Israelites, American Jewry's first national "defense" organization, is formed


1860 Portrait of Rabbi Morris J. Raphall, 1850

Rabbi Morris Jacob Raphall becomes the first Jewish clergyman to deliver a prayer at the opening of a session of the House of Representatives

Jewish population: between 125,000200,000 (.40.63 percent of total population)

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln is elected president


Serfs are emancipated in Russia


Lincoln at Antietam

Civil War begins



Judah P. Benjamin

Judah P. Benjamin is appointed Secretary of State of the Confederacy

Jacob Frankel is appointed first Jewish chaplain in the United States Army

General Ulysses S. Grant issues General Order No. 11 expelling Jewish civilians from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi




Gettysburg Address

Gettysburg Address

President Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation abolishing slavery


International Red Cross is founded in Geneva, Switzerland

Louis Pasteur invents pasteurization




Transatlantic cable is successfully laid


Abraham Lincoln is assassinated

Civil War ends




Ku Klux Klan is formed in Tennessee to maintain "white supremacy"


Karl Marx's Das Kapital is published

Isaac Leeser

Isaac Leeser founds Maimonides College in Philadelphia, the first rabbinical school in America

U.S. buys Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million


Suez Canal opens


The completion of the Transcontinental Railroad

First transcontinental railroad is completed


Ghetto of Rome, established in 1555, is abolished

Franco-Prussian War begins





First Hebrew periodical in America, Ha-Zofeh ba-Eretz ha-Hadashah (The Watchman in the New World) is published in New York




Union of American Hebrew Congregations is founded by 34 congregations across the United States. Although its founders hope that it would embrace all American synagogues, it soon became the Reform Jewish congregational union


1875 Portrait of Isaac M. Wise, 1876

Isaac Mayer Wise founds Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, which becomes, the rabbinical seminary of the Reform movement



Abraham Goldfaden establishes the Yiddish theater in Romania

President Ulysses Grant and his cabinet attend the dedication of Washington D.C.'s Adas Israel Hebrew Congregation

Alexander Graham Bell invents the telephone



Joseph Seligman, a prominent New York banker, is barred as a Jew from registering at the Grand Union Hotel in Saratoga, New York, marking the growth of social anti-Semitism in America

New Hampshire grants Jews political equality

Thomas A. Edison invents the phonograph

Emile Berliner's invention of the microphone makes the telephone practical and radio possible



The American Hebrew newspaper begins publishing in New York

Thomas A. Edison invents the light bulb



Jewish population: between 230,000-300,000 (.46-.60 percent of total population)



Pogroms (massacres often with government collusion) and anti-Jewish persecution in Russia after assassination of Czar Alexander II and the ascension of his successor, Czar Alexander III

New Year postcard depicting immigrants arriving in the U.S., 1920

Massive migration of East European (especially Russian) Jews to America begins, impelled by persecution and lack of economic opportunity


Onset of "First Aliyah" (immigration of Jews to Holy Land) in which approximately 25,000 Jews emigrate from Eastern Europe to the Holy Land (through 1903)

First professional Yiddish theater production is staged in New York




A banquet celebrating the first ordination class of the Hebrew Union College features non-kosher (trefa) fare, triggering an uproar, a walk-out by traditional attendees, and a call for a more religiously traditional seminary




Pittsburgh Platform articulates the tenets of American Reform Judaism

The first skyscraper, The Home Insurance Building, is built in Chicago



Etz Chaim (Tree of Life), the first yeshiva for Talmudic studies in the U.S., is established in New York

Statue of Liberty is unveiled in New York harbor



The Jewish Theological Seminary opens in New York


1889 Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower is completed in Paris, France

The Hebrew Educational Aid Society, antecedent of the Educational Alliance is founded on the Lower East Side to assist Eastern European Jewish immigrants



Beginnings of wireless telegraphy

Establishment of Baron de Hirsch Fund in New York and the Jewish Colonization Association in Paris to assist emigrants and promote Jewish agricultural settlements




Hannah Solomon with her daughter and granddaughter

Hannah Greenebaum Solomon establishes the National Council of Jewish Women at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago

World's Columbian Exposition

World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago


Alfred Dreyfus, a French general staff officer, falsely accused of selling secret documents to Germany, is sentenced to life on Devil's Island





Knitting Class: Henry Street Settlement

Social worker Lillian Wald founds Henry Street Settlement on New York's Lower East Side

The American Jewess is published, the first English language periodical for American Jewish women



First modern Olympic games (Athens)

Theodore Herzl publishes The Jewish State


Supreme Court, in Plessy v. Ferguson, issues ruling that "separate but equal" facilities for whites and blacks are constitutional

Henry Ford builds his first car


First Zionist Congress is held in Basel, Switzerland

Yiddish Socialist Labor party (the Bund) is founded in Russia

Waiting for the Forwards, photograph by Lewis Hine, 1913

The Yiddish language Jewish Daily Forward is founded in New York

The Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary begins training Orthodox rabbis




Spanish-American War


Aspirin is manufactured



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1492-1695 | 1700s | 1800s | 1900s | 2000s