Pinto, Isaac

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PINTO, ISAAC

PINTO, ISAAC (1720–1791), U.S. merchant and translator of prayer books. Emigrating to the U.S. from the West Indies, where one branch of the Pinto family was established, Pinto settled in Connecticut; an Isaac Pinto is listed in Colonial Records of Connecticut as living in Stratford during 1748. By 1751 Pinto was a resident of New York City and a member of Congregation Shearith Israel. Ezra Stiles, president of Yale College, identified him as a "learned Jew at New York." Pinto, who signed the Non-Importation Act, was a devoted patriot. The anonymous English translation in Evening Services for Rosh-Hashanah and Yom Kippur (New York, 1761) is attributed to Pinto; this rendering and his acknowledged translation in Prayers for Sabbath, Rosh-Hashanah and Yom Kippur, with the Amidah and Musaph of the Moadim of the Sephardi rite (New York, 1766) are the earliest English translations of Hebrew prayer books published in the New World. That a translation was needed indicates, in the view of Grinstein, a low level of Hebrew learning in the colonies at that time.

bibliography:

D. de S. Pool, Portraits Etched in Stone (1952); I. Abrahams, By-Paths in Hebraic Bookland (1920), 171–7; L. Huehner, in: je, s.v.; H. Grinstein, Rise of the Jewish Community of New York (1945).

[Leo Hershkowitz]