by Sarah F. Goldsmith for the Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Mikveh Israel history begins not with the construction of a building, but with the development of a community. In colonial Philadelphia, Jews were not plagued by hostility or repression but were allowed to meet with other Jews and worship freely and openly. In 1740 wealthy merchant Nathan Levy applied for a parcel of land to bury his child in which he could follow the burial rituals of Judaism. Thomas Penn, royal proprietor of Pennsylvania, granted him the plot, which evolved into a communal Jewish cemetery. From the community established around the cemetery on Spruce Street, Minyans (small gatherings for worship) were held in private homes. When the Minyan grew, spaces were rented to accommodate the growing Jewish population of Philadelphia.
As a result of British occupation during the Revolutionary War, Jews from New York, Richmond, Charleston, Savannah, Lancaster and Easton