Famous Philadelphians: Aaron Levy (1742-1815)

Aaron Levy was a prominent land speculator in Colonial Pennsylvania. A Jewish immigrant from Amsterdam, he founded Aaronsberg in Centre County, the first city in the United States designed by and named for a person of Jewish descent.

Along with business partner and ‘Financier of the Revolution’, Robert Morris, Levy loaned significant amounts of money to the Continental Army. Levy settled in Philadelphia after the Revolutionary War and became an early member of Congregation Mikveh Israel, the oldest synagogue in the city.

aaron-levyThe congregation included other war supporters such as Haym Salomon, Reuben Etting, Philip Moses Russel, and Benjamin Nones. With the Non-Importation Resolutions of 1765 and 1783, Levy and the congregation petitioned for changes to the oath of office that allowed Jewish people to serve as elected officials in Pennsylvania.

The congregation of Mikveh Israel remains active today, just a few blocks from the Philadelphia History Museum.

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About the author

Christopher Munden

Your faithful correspondent and publisher Christopher Munden has written and edited for many publications, websites, and cultural institutions. He was an editor/publisher of the Philly Fiction book series, collections of short stories written by local writers and set in Philadelphia. He's also a soccer coach and a pretty good skier.