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One of the oldest cities in the U.S., Boston first saw Jews arrive in the mid-17th century, but a Jewish community did not start until the mid-19th century. The first synagogues were organized by German Jews. Around 1900, large Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe signaled the beginning of what is today one of the best organized and most representative and influential Jewish communities in the U.S.. The metropolitan area’s Jewish population is 235,000.

Boston may be the American leader in Jewish literacy, with 80% of its Jews having received some form of Jewish education. It has important Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, and even Hasidic communities. It has a long tradition of producing rabbis, leaders, scholars, jurists, artists, and writers who have enriched both Jewish and general culture: Rabbi Louis Epstein, a leading Conservative scholar; Rabbi Ronald Gittelson, a leading Reform rabbi; Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, one of America’s greatest Talmudists; Louis Brandeis, a great American jurist; Leonard Bernstein, conductor and composer; Mike Wallace, a leading television journalist.

Boston has many Jewish communal institutions, including a Hebrew Teachers College. It is one of the main centers of Jewish learning in the U.S., with Judaica chairs in schools like Harvard and Boston University, and especially with its full-fledged institution of higher learning, Brandeis University, the first non-sectarian Jewish university in America. A Jewish weekly, The Jewish Advocate, has been published in Boston since 1903.

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