By Karin Goldstein
Many visitors flock to Plymouth, Massachusetts, each year to view the historic landing spot of the Pilgrims. Three blocks from Plymouth Rock is Congregation Beth Jacob's synagogue. For more than a century, the Jewish community of this coastal New England town has flourished. Even before the establishment of the synagogue, built in 1912-13, Plymouth's history was shaped by the Jewish culture. Many colonial New England laws were derived from the Old Testament. The grave marker of famed Governor William Bradford bears an inscription in Hebrew that reads, "The Lord is the help of my life." Historian Karin J. Goldstein reveals the lasting impact of the Jewish community on Plymouth's history and the ways in which it still informs the towns unique identity today.
Karin J. Goldstein, a native of Chicago, fell in love with family history as a child and was always asking older relatives and neighbors about "the old times". After much soul searching about a career, she decided to become a museum curator and moved to Plymouth, Massachusetts, where she has lived since 1992. When the Plymouth Jewish History Project started in 2001, she began researching and continued off and on for more than ten years. Not only has the project given her deeper roots in her adopted community, but it also led indirectly to a dissertation topic on a Plymouth neighborhood. Goldstein has a PhD in American studies from Boston University and works as a museum curator at Plimoth Plantation and as an adjunct professor of history at Bridgewater State University.