Tuesday, December 6, 2016

December 2016

Saving Monticello: The Newsletter

The latest about the book, author events, and more

Newsletter Editor - Marc Leepson

Volume XIII, Number 12                                                                   December 1, 2016

THE FIRST JEWISH AMERICANS:  Anytime you talk about the first Jewish Americans you have to include the members of the Nunez, Machado, Phillips, and Levy families, who arrived here in 1733 and whose ranks included some of the most illustrious people in colonial America and in the Early Republic.

“The First Jewish Americans,” the new exhibit that opened late in October at the New York Historical Society Museum and Library on Central Park West, does, in fact include Uriah P. Levy and other members of his family. The second half of the title, “Freedom and Culture in the New World,” indicates the exhibit’s theme: that the very small number of early American Jews “significantly negotiated the freedoms offered by the new nation and contributed to the flowering of American culture.”

The wide-ranging exhibit includes portraits, drawings, maps, documents, and ritual objects. It focuses on Jewish American artists, writers, and activists. Many of the objects are on loan from the Princeton University Jewish American Collection and were the basis for “By Dawn’s Early Light: Jewish Contributions to American Culture from the Nation’s Founding to the Civil War,” a similar exhibit that was on view at Princeton’s Art Museum earlier this year and which we covered in the May SM Newsletter:  http://bit.ly/SMMay2016

A significant part of is devoted to artifacts from Shearith Israel, the first Jewish congregation in the United States. Founded in 1654, Shearith Israel has since the 1890s been located just a few blocks from the N.Y. Historical Society on 70th Street and Central Park West.

Uriah Levy’s great grandfather, David Mendez Machado, who married Maria Caetana Nunez (known as Zipporah), the oldest daughter of the family patriarch Dr. Samuel Nunez, served as the hazzan of Shearith Isreal after moving from Savannah to New York in the late 1730s.

Uriah Levy, who was born in Philadelphia, was a member of Shearith Israel after he moved to New York City in the 1820s. One of his nephews, L. Napoleon Levy, served as the congregation’s president.

The Shearith Israel portion of the exhibit includes 18th century finial ornaments called rimmonim (above) that sit on top of Torah poles, and a Torah scroll (below) vandalized by British soldiers during the Revolutionary War.

For more info on the exhibit, go to http://bit.ly/2NYHistSoc 


EVENTS:  My next book, the first-ever biography of Barry Sadler, will be published May 1. For more info on Ballad of the Green Beret, go to http://bit.ly/GBBallad

 Only one event in December:

  • On Saturday, December 17, 2:00 talk on Desperate Engagement, and book signing at the James M. Duncan Branch of the Alexandria, Va., Library at 2501 Commonwealth Ave. in Alexandria. It’s free and open to the public. For more info, go to http://bit.ly/DuncanBranch

Please email if you’d like to arrange an event for Saving Monticello—or for any of my other books, including my Francis Scott Key biography, What So Proudly We Hailed, Lafayette: Idealist General, and the Barry Sadler bio (starting in May)—at marc527psc@aol.com

For details on other upcoming events, go to bit.ly/SMOnline That’s the “Author Events” page on my website, www.marcleepson.com

Facebook, Twitter: If you’re on Facebook, please send me a friend request. If you’re on Twitter, I’d love to have you as a follower.

Gift IdeasIf you would like a personally autographed, brand-new paperback copy of Saving Monticello, e-mail me at Marc527psc@aol.com Or go to http://www.marcleepson.com/signedbooks.htmlto order copies through my local bookstore, Second Chapter Books in Middleburg, Virginia. We also have copies of Desperate Engagement, Flag, Lafayette, and What So Proudly We Hailed.