The Diary of Asser Levy: First Jewish Citizen of New York

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“The book breathes life into a little-known yet important Jewish figure of early New Amsterdam and New York. Through a series of diary entries based on fact and the author’s creation, the author brings out the emotion, drama, and conflicts of Asser Levy’s turbulent journey to a new land in search of religious freedom. Chronicling much of the mid-1650s, the diary entries depict the ship’s arrival to New Amsterdam only to be turned away. It tells the tale, through fictional accounts combined with historical fact, of Asser’s becoming the first kosher butcher in the new land. The book will add color to classroom lessons on early US history and on Jewish immigration.” —Paul Kaplan, author of Lillian Wald: America’s Great Social and Healthcare Reformer, Jewish New York: A History and Guide to Neighborhoods, Synagogues, and Eateries, and Jewish South Florida: A History and Guide to Neighborhoods, Synagogues, and Eateries For twenty-four years the Dutch colony of Pernambuco in northeastern Brazil was a safe haven for Jews who had escaped the Inquisition in Europe. Recife, its capital, was known as “Colonial Jerusalem,” and it was in this religiously tolerant town that Asser Levy grew up. When the Portuguese recaptured the territory in 1654, they brought the Inquisition and its torments with them, forcing Asser and his family and friends to flee to Holland. About fifteen ships arrive safely in Holland; Asser’s ship does not. Through imagined diary entries based on real events, Asser tells the harrowing story of the Jewish refugees who arrived on the island of Manhattan and of some of the first court battles fought to allow religious freedom in America. Born in São Paulo, Brazil, author Daniela Weil is a descendant of Jews who immigrated to South America after fleeing the Holocaust in Europe. Her own connection to Jewish refugees sparked a desire to learn and share more of the history of the first Jews who arrived in America.
ISBN: 9781455625215
Format: Hardback
Publisher: Pelican Publishing
State: New York
Images: 35
Pages: 112
Dimensions: 5.5 (w) x 8.5 (h)
Daniela Weil was born in Brazil. She attended the American School in São Paulo, where she was surrounded by people and cultures from around the world. It was also there that she developed a passion for nature, art, and writing. After earning a BA in biology from Brandeis University in Boston, Weil became a field research biologist. She participated in various whale projects, including illustrating the first field guide for whales and dolphins in Brazil. Being a mother rekindled her desire to share her passion about the natural world. She joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and attended workshops on writing nonfiction and science for kids. After writing several articles on science and history, she ventured into books. Weil attended the Texas Library Association annual conference with her SCBWI group and met the folks from Pelican, who were intrigued by her middle-grade book idea. As the project developed, her research took her back to Brazil and across the world chasing Asser’s experiences. When not on the hunt for new experiences, Weil makes her home in Austin, Texas, with her husband, Erik, and daughter, Lucy.
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