40 facts you didn't know about American Jews

Yip Harburg, born to Yiddish-speaking parents from Minsk, wrote the lyrics to the Oscar-winning Over the Rainbow

Yip Harburg, born to Yiddish-speaking parents from Minsk, wrote the lyrics to the Oscar-winning Over the Rainbow

1 There are 5.3 million US Jews - 2.2 per cent of the population.

2 The oldest congregation is New York's Sephardi Shearith Israel community (1654).

3 The first American Haggadah was published in 1837 by S.H. Jackson.

4 To meet the demand from Jewish immigrants in 1911, a kosher kitchen was built at their arrival point at Ellis Island.

Mel Blanc provided the voice for cartoon characters Bugs Bunny, Woody Woodpecker, and Barney Rubble

Mel Blanc provided the voice for cartoon characters Bugs Bunny, Woody Woodpecker, and Barney Rubble

5 There are no Jewish Republicans in the Senate or the House. The Democrats have 22 Congress members and 11 Senators.

6 Christopher Columbus's interpreter on his voyage to the New World was Yosef Halevy, a Catholic convert.

7 The words "…give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses…" on the Statue of Liberty were written by a Jewish woman, Emma Lazarus.

8 The first openly Jewish senator was Judah P. Benjamin, a slave owner representing Louisiana.

9 Judith Resnick was the first Jewish astronaut in space. She died in the Challenger shuttle disaster in 1986.

10 Baseball player Sandy Koufax refused to play in the first game of the 1965 World Series because it fell on Yom Kippur.

11 In a 1934 basketball game between New York University and City College of New York, nine out of the 10 starting players were Jewish, Newsweek proclaimed it a sport "at which Jews excel".

12 Immigrant Julius Meyer lived with Sioux indians in Nebraska in 1867 and became known as Curly-Headed White Chief with One Tongue due to his honesty.

13 Ever wondered why blue dominates the Facebook colour scheme? Founder Mark Zuckerberg has is colour-blind, which means he sees blue best.

14 Yip Harburg, born to Yiddish-speaking parents from Minsk, wrote the lyrics to the Oscar-winning Over the Rainbow .

15 The "I Love New York" logo was designed by Milton Glaser.

16 Mel Blanc provided the voice for cartoon characters Bugs Bunny, Woody Woodpecker, and Barney Rubble.

17 Scientist Jonas Salk discovered the polio vaccine in 1955.

18 Levi Strauss, an immigrant from Germany, invented his blue jeans in 1873.

19 Woody Allen has been nominated for 23 Academy Awards. He has won four.

20 Songwriter Irving Berlin wrote God Bless America and White Christmas.

21 Basketball star Ossie Schectman scored the first basket in the first US pro league match.

22 Prohibition-era gangster Meyer Lansky helped break up pro-Nazi rallies after an appeal by New York rabbis.

23 Coney Island Bialys and Bagels, founded in 1920 by Morris Rosenzweig, an immigrant from Poland, is the oldest kosher bagel shop in New York.

24 18 Jews have been awarded the military's Medal of Honour.

25 Engineer Joseph Strauss oversaw the construction of San Francisco's Golden Gate bridge in 1937.

26 Danny Lewin is considered by many to have been the first victim of 9/11. He was killed trying to tackle the terrorists on the American Airlines flight 11.

27 Barack Obama held the first White House Seder in 2009.

28 Superman is Jewish. His name, Kal-El, resembles the Hebrew words for "voice" and "vessel." His creator Jerry Siegel said that he was strongly influenced by antisemitism he experienced.

29 Alysa Stanton, 45, became America's first female African-American rabbi in 2009.

30 Actress Whoopi Goldberg has claimed she feels as much Jewish as black: "I just know I am. I practise nothing. I don't go to temple, but I do remember the holidays."

31 Bob Dylan, legally a minor aged 20, managed to sign for Columbia Records without his parents' consent by claiming he was an orphan.

32 Bess Myerson became the first Jewish Miss America in 1945.

33 Steven Spielberg's first full-length film, Firelight, made in 1964 when he was 16, made a profit of just one dollar.

34 A Pew survey says Orthodox Jews are more conservative in politics than any other with 57 per cent saying they are Republicans.

35 The highest placed Jew on the current Forbes billionaires list is Oracle software founder Larry Ellison with a net worth of $50.5 billion. He's number five.

36 The first white Jewish rapper affiliated with the legendary rap collective, the Wu Tang Clan, was Remedy (born Ross Filler) who wrote the song Never Again about the Holocaust.

37 The oldest shul still standing is the Touro synagogue in Rhode Island. Its construction was completed in 1763.

38 The first kosher cheeseburger in New York was created by Talia's Steakhouse in 2008 using tofu cheese.

39 The Pilgrim Fathers identified with the Jews of the Old Testament and may have modelled the first Thanksgiving on Yom Kippur.

40 AIPAC, the leading pro-Israel lobby group, has 100,000 members and an annual budget of almost $70 million.

    Last updated: 3:42pm, July 3 2014