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July 04, 2003 - Image 150

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-07-04

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Left to right:

Dr. John de
Sequeyra was
appointed doctor in
charge of the first
public hospital in

Reverend Gershom
Mendes Seixas led
the first Jewish
congregation in
America, Shearith
Israel in New York,
for 46 years, and
served as clergyman
at the inauguration
of President George


Moses Myers,
who developed a
lucrative import-
export business and
at one time was
considered one of the
15 wealthiest men
in the United States,
came to die in
poverty. This por-
trait is by Gilbert
Stuart, who also did
portraits of George

Author pens book about significant Jewish contributors
to American society in our nation's early years.

Special to the Jewish News

wo Detroit references are made in
the new book The Jews in Early
America: A Chronicle of Good Taste
and Good Deeds (Fithian Press;
$15.95) by Sandra Cumings Malamed.
One reference involves Chapman Abraham,
the first Jewish settler in Detroit. The other
has to do with a Gilbert Stuart portrait of
Sarah Lopez with her son Joshua on display at
the Detroit Institute of Arts.
Malamed, in providing the history of these
and many other Jewish people prominent in
Colonial times, offers fresh insight into
American history and gives some ethnic pause
while celebrating Independence Day.
"I had pages and pages of research materials
about Chapman Abraham," says Malamed,
61, who established herself as a lecturer on
Colonial Jewish history before writing her
book. "He lived in Montreal and was one of
the first white men to go into the area that is
now called Detroit.
"When he went back to Montreal, after a


7/ 4


horrendous experience with Indians, his wife,
Eliza, became pregnant. He died shortly after
that, and she lost the baby.
"Eliza was distraught and went to New York
to visit relatives. That's where she met Moses
Myers, and they were married. The couple
had 12 children, nine of
whom lived to be adults."
The family of Moses
Myers, settled in Norfolk,
The Jews
Va., is the subject of one
in Early
chapter in the Malamed his-
tory. Moses Myers, who
developed a lucrative
import-export business and
at one time was considered
A C shir I 1 de
one of the 15 wealthiest
t Gt 11 k)
men in the United States,
41 ld (IMO Dealt'
came to die in poverty, but
his grand house remains a
tourist destination in
Sms.rnx.. Cvm:Nw>
The Rivera-Lopez family
is the subject of another
chapter, this one connected
to Newport, R.I., where


practicing Judaism could be done publicly
and proudly. Aaron Lopez, the husband and
father of the mother and son in the DIA por-
trait, engaged in a triangle trade between
America, the West Indies and Africa.
Malamed describes how Aaron Lopez con-
tributed to secular and
religious causes, donating
lumber to the Rhode
Island College, today
known as Brown
"The 19 lectures that I
do cover about 50 people,
and it was very hard pick-
ing and choosing the ones
for the book," explains
Malamed, who also has
written historical articles
for Jewish publications.
"Ultimately, some people
were just more obvious
because their contribu-
tions were enormous in
terms of American history
and establishing Jewish

Jews can take
important cues from
their Colonial
ancestors in terms
of their religious
identity, says Sandra
Cumings Malamed,
author of "The Jews
in Early America."

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