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  JEWISH AND KOSHER MASSACHUSETTS, USA      הקהילה היהודית במסצ'וסטס, ארה"ב JEWISH AND KOSHER UNITED STATES OF AMERICA      הקהילה היהודית בארה"ב  
 
 
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THE MAYFLOWER IN PLYMOUTH HARBOR BY WILLIAM HALSALL (1882). THE PILGRIMS WERE A GROUP OF PURITANS WHO FOUNDED PLYMOUTH IN 1620
The Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor by William Halsall (1882) The Pilgrims were a group of Puritans who founded Plymouth in 1620.

Massachusetts (Listeni/ˌmsəˈsɨts/), officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is a U.S. state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. Massachusetts is the 7th least extensive, but the 14th most populous and the 3rd most densely populated of the 50 United States. The state features three separate metropolitan areas: Greater Boston in the east - which also includes all of Rhode Island - and the Springfield and Pittsfield metropolitan areas in the west.

Approximately two thirds of the state's population lives in Greater Boston, most of which is either urban or suburban. Western Massachusetts features one urban area the Knowledge Corridor along the Connecticut River and a mix of college towns and rural areas. Many of Massachusetts' towns, cities, and counties have names identical to ones in England. Massachusetts is the most populous of the six New England states and has the US's sixth highest GDP per capita.

Massachusetts has played a significant historical, cultural, and commercial role in American history. Plymouth was the site of the colony founded in 1620 by the Pilgrims, passengers of the Mayflower. Harvard University, founded in 1636, is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. In 1692, the towns surrounding Salem experienced one of America's most infamous cases of mass hysteria, the Salem Witch Trials.

In the 18th century, the Protestant First Great Awakening, which swept the Atlantic world, originated from the pulpit of Northampton, Massachusetts preacher Jonathan Edwards. In the late 18th century, Boston became known as the "Cradle of Liberty" for the agitation there that led to the American Revolution and the independence of the United States from Great Britain. In 1777, General Henry Knox founded the Springfield Armory, which during the Industrial Revolution catalyzed numerous important technological advances, including interchangeable parts. In 1786, Shays' Rebellion, a populist revolt by Western Massachusetts farmers, led directly to the United States Constitutional Convention.

Before the American Civil War, Massachusetts was a center for the temperance, transcendentalist, and abolitionist movements. In 1837, Mount Holyoke College, the United States' first college for women, was opened in the Connecticut River Valley town of South Hadley. In the late 19th century, the (now) Olympic sports of basketball and volleyball were invented in the Western Massachusetts cities of Springfield and Holyoke, respectively. In 2004, Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to legally recognize same-sex marriage as a result of the decision of the state's Supreme Judicial Court. The state has contributed many prominent politicians to national service, including members of the Adams family and of the Kennedy family.

Originally dependent on fishing, agriculture, and trade, Massachusetts was transformed into a manufacturing center during the Industrial Revolution. During the 20th century, the state's economy shifted from manufacturing to services. In the 21st century, Massachusetts is a leader in higher education, health care technology, high technology, and financial services.

Name

The Massachusetts Bay Colony was named after the indigenous population, the Massachusett, whose name can be segmented as mass-adchu-s-et, where mass- is "large", -adchu- is "hill", -s- is a diminutive suffix meaning "small", and -et is a locative suffix, identifying a place. It has been translated as "near the great hill", "by the blue hills", "at the little big hill", or "at the range of hills", referring to the Blue Hills, or in particular, Great Blue Hill, located on the boundary of Milton and Canton. Alternatively, Massachusett has been represented as Moswetuset, from the name of the Moswetuset Hummock (meaning "hill shaped like an arrowhead") in Quincy where Plymouth Colony commander Miles Standish and Squanto, a Native American, met Chief Chickatawbut in 1621.

The official name of the state is the "Commonwealth of Massachusetts". Colloquially, it is often referred to simply as "the Commonwealth". While this designation is part of the state's official name, it has no practical implications. Massachusetts has the same position and powers within the United States as other states.

Geography

Massachusetts is the 7th smallest state in the United States. It is located in the New England region of the northeastern United States, and has an area of 10,555 square miles (27,340 km2). Several large bays distinctly shape its coast. Boston is the largest city, at the inmost point of Massachusetts Bay, the mouth of the Charles River, which is the longest river entirely within Massachusetts. The state extends from the mountains of the Appalachian system in the west to the sandy beaches and rocky shorelines of the Atlantic coast.

The National Park Service administers a number of natural and historical sites in Massachusetts. Along with twelve national historic sites, areas, and corridors, the National Park Service also manages the Cape Cod National Seashore and the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area. In addition, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation maintains a number of parks, trails, and beaches throughout the commonwealth.

Demographics

The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of Massachusetts was 6,587,536 on July 1, 2011, a 0.61% increase since the 2010 United States Census.

Massachusetts had an estimated 2009 population of 6,593,587.[86] As of 2000, Massachusetts was estimated to be the third most densely populated U.S. state, with 809.8 per square mile, behind New Jersey and Rhode Island. Massachusetts in 2008 included 919,771 foreign-born residents.

Most Bay Staters live within the Boston Metropolitan Area, also known as Greater Boston, which in its most expansive sense includes New England's two largest cities, Boston and Worcester. The state's only other metropolitan area is the Springfield Metropolitan Area, also known as Greater Springfield. Centered in the Connecticut River Valley, Greater Springfield includes the revitalizing city of Springfield, and an eclectic array of college towns, (e.g. Amherst and Northampton) and rural areas to the north and west. Geographically, the center of population of Massachusetts is located in the town of Natick.

Like the rest of the northeastern United States, the population of Massachusetts has continued to grow in the past few decades, although at a slower pace than states in the South or West. The latest census estimates show that the commonwealth's population grew by 3.9% since 2000, compared with nearly 10% nationwide. In their decisions to leave Massachusetts, most former residents cited high housing costs and a high cost of living. Another factor has been the transformation from a manufacturing economy into one based on high technology, leaving limited employment options for lower-skilled workers, particularly males.

Foreign immigration is more than making up for these losses, causing the state's population to continue to grow as of the 2010 Census (particularly in Massachusetts gateway cities where costs of living are lower). 40% of foreign immigrants were from Central or South America, according to a 2005 Census Bureau study. Many residents who have settled in Greater Springfield claim Puerto Rican descent. Many areas of the commonwealth showed relatively stable population trends between 2000 and 2010. Exurban Boston and coastal areas grew the most rapidly, while Berkshire County in far Western Massachusetts and Barnstable County on Cape Cod were the only counties to lose population as of the 2010 Census. Both of these counties feature many "second homes," and constitute major centers of Massachusetts tourism.

In 2005, 79% of the state population spoke English, 7% spoke Spanish, 3.5% spoke Portuguese, and 1% spoke either French or Chinese.

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