Jews settled America as part of a long history of exile, migration, minority status, and intercultural blending. In this case, expulsion by Catholic Spain and Portugal in the 1490s sent them to lives of commerce in such Atlantic seaports as Amsterdam and Recife, Brazil. Portugal’s takeover of the latter in 1654 drove twenty-three people from there to New Amsterdam, where their commercial influence prevented their expulsion by the governor. They formed Congregation Shearith Israel in 1656 to meet their religious needs. Two years later, fifteen families from the Netherlands formed another congregation in rel­ atively tolerant Newport, Rhode Island. By the mid-18th century, congrega­ tions appeared in other seaports: Savannah (1733), Charleston (1741), and Philadelphia (1745). These early communities consisted largely of Sephardic Jews, whose Iberian experience had generated variations on traditional rituals and a culture combining Hebrew, Spanish, Portuguese, and Muslim elements. Central and eastern European (Ashkenazic) Jews began arriving in the 18th century, becoming a significant presence in Philadelphia and outnumbering Sephardim in New York by 1800.