Forty-two Jewish refugees arrived on July 11, 1733, having fled persecution in Portugal. The colonists welcomed them, especially when they learned there was a doctor among them, for their own doctor had recently died.
Most of the Jewish families settled in the area of Ellis Square. Descendents of two of the families; the Sheftalls and Minis’s, are prominent Savannah families today. The Mickve Israel synagogue now sits on Monterey Square and houses the South’s oldest Jewish congregation, the third founded in America.
A marble monument at the corner of Bull and Oglethorpe Street marks the site of the original Jewish burial ground established by Oglethorpe in 1733. Over the next ten years, thousands of colonist from many different countries and faiths came to Georgia to start a new life including Moravians and Salzburgers from Germany, Scottish Highlanders, French Huguenots, Irish Catholics, Italians, Greeks and Swiss.