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According to The Jewish Americans companion book, At the time of the American Revolution, more than a century after the first Jews arrived in New Amsterdam, the Jewish population likely numbered about 2,000 out of a general population of roughly 2.5 million. Early on, Jews settled in cities mainly along the East Coast, but soon, Jewish immigrants were settling throughout the young nation.

Although America offered vast opportunities, Jewish immigrants faced enormous challenges. Becoming an American sometimes brought risks to maintaining Jewish traditions, especially within the family. Also, with assimilation came prejudice, despite America's promise.