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Historically, one of the most important and, with 250,000 Jews, one of the largest American Jewish communities. Organized Jewish life began in the late 18th century. During the Revolutionary War, most Jews supported the cause and played an important part in supplying Washington’s troops. A letter from President Washington to Jews in Philadelphia affirmed their full rights, the first time in the modern world such equality was granted to Jews.

In the 19th century, Philadelphia Jewry was the leading Jewish community in the U.S. While New York City had a much larger Jewish community, the Philadelphia community was more cohesive and provided national leaders to American Jewry. Some of these leaders were Sabato Morais who founded the Jewish Theological Seminary; Isaac Leeser who gave American Jewry its first English translation of the Bible; Hyman Gratz who made provisions in his will to establish Gratz College, the first Jewish teachers’ college in America; and Cyrus Adler who co-founded the Jewish Publication Society, a leading publisher of Jewish books in the U.S.

Today, Philadelphia is home to the Annenberg Research Institute, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Seminary, and the weekly Jewish Exponent.

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