NEW AMSTERDAM

Synangogues were banned in New Amsterdam, and even after the signing of the Constitution, First Amendment protections didn't stop cities from preventing the construction of Jewish housesof worship, writes Jonathan Sarna in The Forward: In Connecticut, for example, statutes limited the right of religious incorporation to Christians long after the Bill of Rights mandated religious liberty for all on the federal level.

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Looking up at the towering, massive, early twentieth-century skyscraper that is the Municipal Building, I saw the names of my beloved city carved in Roman letters in a continuous line in blocks of stone: NEW AMSTERDAM MDCXXVI / MANAHATTA / NEW YORK MDCLXIV. Manahatta--what a beautiful name, I thought, so much more lyrical than New Amsterdam or New York or our present-day Manhattan, a name so lyrical that Whitman had written a lovely ode to it:     I was asking for something specific     and perfect for my city;     Whereupon lo!

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