Kursheedt, Israel Baer

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KURSHEEDT, ISRAEL BAER (1766–1852), U.S. merchant, broker, and communal leader. Kursheedt, who was born in Germany, studied under Rabbi Nathan *Adler in Frankfurt. After finishing his studies, he went into business as a contractor supplying the Prussian Army, an undertaking which proved successful. In 1796 he immigrated to the United States. After a short stay in Boston, Kursheedt settled in New York City, became active in Jewish affairs there, and was eventually chosen president of the Shearith Israel Congregation. During this period, he married the daughter of the Sephardi rabbi Gershom Mendes *Seixas. In 1812 he moved to Richmond, Virginia, where he remained for 12 years and was a member of the city's Beth Shalom synagogue. Upon returning to New York, he joined in founding the B'nai Jeshurun Congregation in 1825. In 1834 he organized the Hebrath Terumath Hakodesh, a charity dedicated to aiding the Jewish community in Palestine. Kursheedt was also president during this period of the Hebrew Mutual Benefit Society. When U.S. Jews organized themselves in protest over the *Damascus Affair (1840), Kursheedt was elected chairman of the action committee. In this capacity, he wrote to President Van Buren requesting that the American consul in Alexandria use his influence to obtain a fair trial for the persecuted Syrian Jews.


H. Ezekiel et al., The History of the Jews of Richmond (1917).

[Leo Hershkowitz]