History

NYC, Jews, and the military

Asser Levy - The fight to serve in 1655

One of the first Jewish settlers of New Amsterdam, as New York city was known under the Dutch; probably born in Amsterdam; died in 1680. He is first mentioned as one of the Jews who went to New Netherlands in 1654, probably as refugees from Brazil. From the start Levy was one of the champions of his people, never permitting an injury, however slight, to pass without protest. In 1655 Peter Stuyvesant, the governor of the colony, was ordered to attack the Swedes on the Delaware, and accordingly issued orders for the enlistment of all adults. Several Jews, among whom was Asser Levy, appear to have been ready to serve; but the governor and council passed an ordinance "that Jews can not be permitted to serve as soldiers, but shall instead pay a monthly contribution for the exemption." Levy and his comrades at once refused to pay, and on Nov. 5, 1655, petitioned for leave to stand guard like other burghers or to be relieved from the tax. The petition was rejected with the comment that if the petitioners were not satisfied with the law they might go elsewhere. Levy successfully appealed to Holland, and was subsequently permitted to do guard duty like other citizens.

(From The Jewish Encyclopedia, https://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/9876-levy-asser-asser-levy-van-swellem)

Asser Levy - The fight to serve in 1655

One of the first Jewish settlers of New Amsterdam, as New York city was known under the Dutch; probably born in Amsterdam; died in 1680. He is first mentioned as one of the Jews who went to New Netherlands in 1654, probably as refugees from Brazil. From the start Levy was one of the champions of his people, never permitting an injury, however slight, to pass without protest. In 1655 Peter Stuyvesant, the governor of the colony, was ordered to attack the Swedes on the Delaware, and accordingly issued orders for the enlistment of all adults. Several Jews, among whom was Asser Levy, appear to have been ready to serve; but the governor and council passed an ordinance "that Jews can not be permitted to serve as soldiers, but shall instead pay a monthly contribution for the exemption." Levy and his comrades at once refused to pay, and on Nov. 5, 1655, petitioned for leave to stand guard like other burghers or to be relieved from the tax. The petition was rejected with the comment that if the petitioners were not satisfied with the law they might go elsewhere. Levy successfully appealed to Holland, and was subsequently permitted to do guard duty like other citizens.

(From The Jewish Encyclopedia, https://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/9876-levy-asser-asser-levy-van-swellem)

One of the first Jewish settlers of New Amsterdam, as New York city was known under the Dutch; probably born in Amsterdam; died in 1680. He is first mentioned as one of the Jews who went to New Netherlands in 1654, probably as refugees from Brazil. From the start Levy was one of the champions of his people, never permitting an injury, however slight, to pass without protest. In 1655 Peter Stuyvesant, the governor of the colony, was ordered to attack the Swedes on the Delaware, and accordingly issued orders for the enlistment of all adults. Several Jews, among whom was Asser Levy, appear to have been ready to serve; but the governor and council passed an ordinance "that Jews can not be permitted to serve as soldiers, but shall instead pay a monthly contribution for the exemption." Levy and his comrades at once refused to pay, and on Nov. 5, 1655, petitioned for leave to stand guard like other burghers or to be relieved from the tax. The petition was rejected with the comment that if the petitioners were not satisfied with the law they might go elsewhere. Levy successfully appealed to Holland, and was subsequently permitted to do guard duty like other citizens.

(From The Jewish Encyclopedia, https://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/9876-levy-asser-asser-levy-van-swellem)

One of the first Jewish settlers of New Amsterdam, as New York city was known under the Dutch; probably born in Amsterdam; died in 1680. He is first mentioned as one of the Jews who went to New Netherlands in 1654, probably as refugees from Brazil. From the start Levy was one of the champions of his people, never permitting an injury, however slight, to pass without protest. In 1655 Peter Stuyvesant, the governor of the colony, was ordered to attack the Swedes on the Delaware, and accordingly issued orders for the enlistment of all adults. Several Jews, among whom was Asser Levy, appear to have been ready to serve; but the governor and council passed an ordinance "that Jews can not be permitted to serve as soldiers, but shall instead pay a monthly contribution for the exemption." Levy and his comrades at once refused to pay, and on Nov. 5, 1655, petitioned for leave to stand guard like other burghers or to be relieved from the tax. The petition was rejected with the comment that if the petitioners were not satisfied with the law they might go elsewhere. Levy successfully appealed to Holland, and was subsequently permitted to do guard duty like other citizens.

(From The Jewish Encyclopedia, https://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/9876-levy-asser-asser-levy-van-swellem)

Asser Levy - The fight to serve in 1655

One of the first Jewish settlers of New Amsterdam, as New York City was known under the Dutch; probably born in Amsterdam; died in 1680. He is first mentioned as one of the Jews who went to New Netherlands in 1654, probably as refugees from Brazil. From the start, Levy was one of the champions of his people, never permitting an injury, however slight, to pass without protest. In 1655 Peter Stuyvesant, the governor of the colony, was ordered to attack the Swedes on the Delaware, and accordingly issued orders for the enlistment of all adults. Several Jews, among whom was Asser Levy, appear to have been ready to serve; but the governor and council passed an ordinance "that Jews can not be permitted to serve as soldiers, but shall instead pay a monthly contribution for the exemption." Levy and his comrades at once refused to pay, and on Nov. 5, 1655, petitioned for leave to stand guard like other burghers or to be relieved from the tax. The petition was rejected with the comment that if the petitioners were not satisfied with the law they might go elsewhere. Levy successfully appealed to Holland, and was subsequently permitted to do guard duty like other citizens.

(From The Jewish Encyclopedia, https://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/9876-levy-asser-asser-levy-van-swellem)

Formation of the Hebrew Veterans Association

In the years after the Civil War, there were cries that Jews had not risen up to come to America’s defense. To counter this, 63 Jewish Civil War veterans came together on March 15, 1896, in New York City at the Lexington Avenue Opera house to form the Hebrew Union Veterans Association.  Formed after the Spanish American War, the Jewish veteran group fought anti-Semitism in the Armed Forces and the general public. Seeking to prove that Jews do proudly serve and fight in the US Armed Forces, the union evolved with each war, eventually taking the name we know today, JWV. 

Candle sticks icon
Bread icon
Prayer book icon
rings icon
Torah icon
Star icon