Writing Home: A Letter from an Early American Jew
We know little about Rebecca Samuel, the author of the featured document in this guide, outside of what her letters provide for us: a slice of her life as a Jewish woman in early America. In this letter, originally written in Yiddish in the 1790s to her parents in Hamburg, Germany, Samuel describes her life in Petersburg, Virginia. She vividly portrays the challenges of keeping a Jewish household, her wishes for her children, and her excitement about the prospect of moving to Charleston, South Carolina. This Go & Learn guide uses Rebecca Samuel’s captivating letter as a centerpiece for interactive sessions about Jewish immigration and the development of the Jewish community in America.
- Jewish immigrants to early America had more freedom than they did in Europe, but life was difficult and they still faced various forms of discrimination.
- Jews in early America were ultimately accepted, in large part due to their business contributions.
- Where did Jews who immigrated to early America come from and why did they leave their countries of origin?
- What can we infer about the experience of Jews in early America from Rebecca Samuel’s letter to her parents?
- How does Rebecca Samuel feel about America?
- For youth:
Seeing your Jewish community through different eyes
- For family/congregational education:
Pioneering spirits: A personalized history of our Jewish community
- For adults:
The Jewish community in America, past and present
Immigration and Generations
Identity, Independence, and Becoming American Jews
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Writing Home: A Letter from an Early American Jew." (Viewed on December 5, 2023) <https://jwa.org/teach/golearn/nov05>.