New York: Jewish Merchants 1500-1800, October 18

In 1714, Spanish Inquisition refugee Luis Moses Gomez purchased 6,000 acres along the Hudson Highlands and built a fieldstone house by a stream known as “Jews Creek.”

For 30 years, he and his sons ran a thriving fur trade from the house with three-foot thick walls. He was the first president of the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue in New York City and family connections included the poet Emma Lazarus and Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo, who some consider to have been the real first Hispanic member of the US Supreme Court.
There is a new website, but most of it is “under construction.” To see the old site, click here.

To learn about the family history, click here for a genealogy written by Isaac Gomez, born in New York on July 28, 1768, who begins with his great-great-grandfather Isaac Gomez.

The genealogy of our family as far as I can trace from my own knowledge as well as what I have had from my ancestors, it being necessary for every family to know from whence they sprung particularly when they came from respectable parentage which is the reason why I have been thus particular.

Related family names in the Gomez genealogy: MARKAZE, GOMPAS, JESURUM, DE LUCENA, DE TORES, LEVY, SILVA, DE LEON, HIMES, LOPEZ, HENDRICKS, WAGGE, RIVERA, SEIXAS, EMANUEL and JUDAY. Localities include Jamaica, Curacao, Barbados; Newport, Rhode Island; New York City and Philadelphia. Click on the genealogy link above for more details.

A conference on “Merchants Jews in the New World 1500-1800” will be held at the Center for Jewish History on Sunday, October 18, sponsored by The Gomez Foundation for Mill House (the former home of Luis Moses Gomez. Click here for event details.

The program will focus on lesser-known aspects of Jewish contributions to economic expansion in the New World and the U.S. The Gomez Foundation manages and operates the 300-year-old Gomez Mill House in Orange County, New York, which was used as the Gomez home and trading post.

Presenters include Dr. Ruth K. Abrahams and Andrée Aelion Brooks, Gomez Foundation; Randall C. Belinfante, American Sephardi Federation; archivist Ainsley Henriques and author Edward Kritzler, Jamaica, West Indies; author Dr. Kenneth Libo, NYC; Jewish Studies assistant professor Dr. Jonathan Ray, Georgetown University, Washington D.C.; Dr. Jessica V. Roitman, Birkbeck College, University of London UK; Jewish Heritage Collection curator Dr. Dale Rosengarten and visiting professor Dr. Barry Steifel, College of Charleston, SC; John Hay Library Special Collections’ Dr. Holly Snyder, Brown University, RI; and Hilit Surowitz, Columbia University, NY.

The event runs from 9am-7pm, and includes several panels:

– Exploration & Expansion: Forces that brought merchant Jews to the NewWorld.
– The impact of Jews on Caribbean Trade.
– The importance of Jewish merchants in early America.

There will be a kosher continental breakfast reception, buffet lunch and wine and light supper buffet reception, along with book sales/signings and exhibits.

Early registration, through September 15, is $65 ($75 later). For more information, email gomez@cjh.org. Download the registration brochure here.

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