The city now known as the Big Apple began life as a Dutch colonial settlement, taking the name New York in 1664. Chosen as the capital of New Netherland and given municipal rights on February 2 1653, it had a population of just 5,000 by 1700 but by the time of American independence that had grown to about 25,000.
There are now near to 19 million people in New York State; it is estimated that more than 1.6 million of them are Jewish. It wasn’t always that way; the first Jewish community arrived in 1654.
In the terrible and tragic history of the Jewish experience in the post-war communist dictatorships of Eastern Europe, one incident in particular stands out. It began with an editorial published in the Pravda newspaper.
The article accused a group of nine high-profile doctors, two-thirds of whom were Jewish, of conspiring to assassinate the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin by poisoning him.
Embroiled in a war with the Axis powers since September 1939, in 1942 Britain’s Foreign Secretary made a statement in Parliament condemning "Hitler's oft repeated intention to exterminate the Jewish people in Europe".
For Anglo-Jewry it was a welcome statement at a time when reports of the extent of the Nazi genocide were beginning to emerge in the British media. Six months earlier in June 1942 the Daily Telegraph had written of the murder of 700,000 Polish Jews through methods including gas chambers.
Before the First World War, Jerusalem, as indeed the region, had been under the control of the Ottoman Empire for some four centuries. 1917 saw the fall of the Ottoman regime and, just weeks after the Balfour Declaration in Britain, saw Jerusalem be captured by the British army’s Commander-in-Chief, Field Marshall Sir Edmund Allenby.
British Prime Minister David Lloyd-George had already called on his army to secure Jerusalem by Christmas. Allenby improved on that wish.
Today the USA is home to the largest Jewish population in the Diaspora, but the first Jewish settlements in North America did not emerge until the 1650s in New Amsterdam, the colonial capital later renamed New York. The first synagogue in the US was not in New York, however, but in the tiny state of Rhode Island.
Settled by the British in 1625, Barbados remained a colony for more than three centuries.
A prized holiday destination for both Jewish and non-Jewish tourists, the Caribbean island also has a Jewish past.
Sephardic Jews first came to Barbados in the 1650s, refugees from Brazil escaping the Inquisition. Most began working in Bridgetown as merchants, trading sugercane and coffee. The challenges for the community were different to those for European Jews; one Succot, the succah and the synagogue were destroyed by a hurricane.