Historical Milestone: First Jewish Sermon in America, 1773
On this day in Jewish history, May 28th, 1773 (6th Sivan 5533), Rabbi Chaim Yitzchak Carigal, a Talmudic scholar and Jewish emissary, preached the first official Jewish sermon in America at the Newport Synagogue of the Rhode Island British Colony.
Rabbi Carigal: An Emissary of the Jewish Community
Rabbi Carigal, an emissary of the Hebron Jewish community, had been traveling since 1757 to places like Italy, England, Curaçao, the Caribbean, and Philadelphia. He led Jewish communities, taught them Torah, and strengthened the Jewish identity of the diaspora everywhere he went.
Revolutionizing Jewish Identity on Shavuot 1773
On the first day of Shavuot 1773 (6th of Sivan 5533), Rabbi Carigal addressed the Newport congregation in the presence of the governor and magistrates. His sermon, originally written in Spanish, was translated by Abraham Lopez into English.
The Legacy of Rabbi Carigal
In July of the same year, Rabbi Carigal left Newport for Suriname and then Barbados, where he stayed as the community leader until his death in 1777. Leaving behind a wife and son in Hebron, Judea, Rabbi Carigal played a key role in not only bringing a Jewish sermon to the (future) US continent, but everywhere else he stopped to inspire.