This text was prepared by William Gross:
The beginning of the Jewish community in Amsterdam is rooted in the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions at the end of the 16th century. During this period, many of the large number of Jews whose ancestors had been forcibly converted almost one hundred years earlier and labeled "New Christians" were being hounded and accused of heresies. Some of these chose to leave and found a friendly refuge in the Protestant city of Amsterdam. As more and more of them arrived and sought to return to their Jewish roots, the need arose for fundamental Jewish texts that would be comprehensible to an audience ignorant of Hebrew.
This is a publication in Spanish of the 613 mitzvot, or commandments for the practicing Jew. It was published to help the Jews who were coming to Amsterdam from Spain and Portugal to become more familiar with the Jewish faith to which they were returning. Since the book was published in 1627, the Jews for whom it was published had only been coming to Amsterdam for less than thirty years at this time. This Sephardic community grew and prospered during the 17th and part of the 18th century, both economically and culturally. It was for them that the magnificent Spanish and Portuguese synagogue was built. This remains today as a synagogue for the small Sephardic community and is a national architectural monument in the Netherlands.