In September 1654, 23 Jews arrived in New Amsterdam aboard the St Cathrien. The Jews had come from Recife in Northeast Brazil, where they lived under Dutch rule. The Portuguese captured Recife from the Dutch and expelled the Jews.
When the Jews arrived the captain of the ship sued them for the money to pay for their passage. The local court sold their belonging and imprisoned two of the party.
Peter Stuyvesant the governor of the colony was not happy to receive the Jews. He described the Jews as "deceitful" and very "repugnant". Stuyvesant asked permission from the Dutch East India Company, who the colony belonged to remove the Jews from the settlement. The board, which included several Jewish investors, refused and instructed the governor to allow the new Jewish settlers to remain in New Amsterdam.
The 23 Jews who arrived are not the first Jews, to arrive in North America, but it is the first record we have of a group of men women and children arriving to make it their permanent home.