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Lyons, Jacques Judah


LYONS, JACQUES JUDAH (1813–1877), ḥazzan, rabbi, and communal leader. Lyons was born in Surinam. He served as a ḥazzan of Congregation Neve Shalom in Paramaribo (1833–37). Immigrating to the United States, he served for two years as ḥazzan of Congregation Beth Shalom of Richmond, Virginia, and in 1839 began his ministry at the oldest Jewish congregation in the United States, the Spanish-Portuguese congregation Shearith Israel of New York City. Lyons, who was unyielding in his orthodoxy, served as superintendent of the Polonies Talmud Torah School attached to his congregation, as president of Hebra Hased va-Emet, the congregation's benevolent society, and as a director of the Sampson Simson Theological Fund, and was a founder of the Jews' Hospital. Lyons and Abraham *de Sola of Montreal prepared and published A Jewish Calendar for Fifty Years (1854), including an essay on the Jewish calendar system and historical data about Jewish communities in the United States, Canada, and the West Indies. From before 1861 to the end of his life, Lyons gathered data and sources on the history of the Jews of the U.S. Although he died before completing the work, this collection was donated to and calendared by the American Jewish Historical Society (see bibl.) and is a most significant source for students of early North American Jewish history.

Lyons is memorialized in the poem "Rosh Ha-Shanah, 5638" by his niece Emma *Lazarus.


ajhsp, 21 (1913), xxiii–xxviii; 27 (1920), 144–9; D. and T. de Sola Pool, An Old Faith in the New World: Portrait of Shearith Israel, 16541954 (1955), 178–82.

[Isidore S. Meyer]

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