Jews Before There Were Jews

Update: Jun 17th, 2011

Christian Mainers had ideas about Jews long before any Jews arrived in Maine. These ideas came from the Bible, Christian tradition, and common negative stereotypes. Many Christians were fascinated—and some were disturbed—by the first Jews who lived in their midst.

Hebrew-Latin Bible Concordance

No one knows how this volume, published in Switzerland in 1632, found its way to Bath. It was probably the property of a local Christian minister with scholarly inclinations. The book is now owned by a descendant of Nathan Petlock, a Jewish junk dealer—Nathan found it one day while collecting junk!

Courtesy of Nathan Cogan

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John Langdon Sibley, A History of the Town of Union (1851)

John Sibley was clearly fascinated by Susman Abrams, the only Jew who lived in Union during the early 19th century.  No other resident of the town merits a footnote this long in Sibley’s book.  This footnote offers the earliest known depiction of a Jewish Mainer.  Click here for a larger version of the text.

Courtesy of Colby Libraries

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