Eight Books for 8 Days: Would Captain Jack Sparrow be Wed Under a Chuppah?

DAY 1 in AMERICA: Eight candles for eight days, and 8 books. But light the candles, not the books. For day 1, a joyous book of modern day Maccabees. Well, maybe they weren’t Maccabees, but they did fight for religious freedom, and perhaps take some gold while they were at it.

I am talking about the Jewish pirates of the Mediterranean and Caribbean who are profiled in the pleasantly titled book, Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean. How a Generation of Swashbuckling Jews Carved Out an Empire in the New World in Their Quest for Treasure, Religious Freedom–and Revenge. by Edward Kritzler (November 2008, Doubleday).

Please. No comparisons to Madoff. Kritzler has studied pirates for over 4 decades, and noticed that quite a few were Ladino speaking Sephardic Conversos who practiced Judaism and fought against Spain’s Inquisition by robbing its ships. They set sail on ships with names like Prophet Samuel, Shield of Abraham, and Queen Esther.

We know Judah ha-Maccabee, but how many know Sinan, who was the second in command to Barbarossa. Samuel Pallache was a rabbi who moonlighted as a pirate. His drashes in his Amsterdam synagogue must have been unique. Moses Cohen Henriques, sailed with the Dutch West India Company and attacked Spanish ships off Cuba and stole their shipments. He even founded his own pirate island off the coast of Brazil. And then there was Jean Laffitte (Lefitto), an extraordinary pirate who bought a shop in New Orleans to fence his goods and helped Andrew Jackson in the War of 1812. Lafitte’s mother and grandmother were Conversos Jews who fled from Spain to France and then Santo Domingo in the Caribbean after his grandfather was murdered by the Inquisition. Lafitte, or The Corsair, as he was also known, set up a pirate kingdom on the island of Galveston, Texas, after 1817.

My first book for Hanukkah is about Jewish pirates, modern day Maccabees with rather dirty hands.


  1. ck

    12/23/2008 at 3:08 am

    A Jewish pirate ship called the Queen Esther? I knew it!. Seriously, click on that.

  2. Netsach Shebe Netsach

    12/23/2008 at 2:29 pm

    Yeah CK,

    Check out that pic of Esther you got in that
    there Jew Pirate link you just reposted


    Since this Mumbai episode I have been out of Jewlicious happenings.
    When was the Chatuna? She is in LA now I heard, I wish
    I was there. SHE LOOKS SOOO HOT!! in her married look scarf – frummie head covering…
    She must have married a real Dati…

  3. Esther

    12/23/2008 at 5:05 pm

    NBN, what the bejeezus are you talking about. That photo has been (GASP!!) photoshopped by CK. The original photo had NO eyepatch, and NO scarf. So CK’s the frummie here.

  4. ck

    12/23/2008 at 5:41 pm

    Yeah, that’s right Esther. I’m the frummie…

  5. Netsach Shebe Netsach

    12/23/2008 at 8:29 pm

    So Esther,

    You are not a Pirate? I always thought you were.
    Yeah and that eye patch makes you look tough, like Moshe Dayan, real swashbuckling.

  6. Esther

    12/23/2008 at 10:03 pm

    You must keep your swash buckled at all times, or you could cause an accident.

    That’s right, I forgot. CK’s no frummie. He’s Sephardic.

  7. Netsach Shebe Netsach

    12/24/2008 at 4:15 am

    Aye Aye Captain Esther. Swash is bucked and secured this watch.

    Everything top deck is frummed out to the max.
    Aye, the swill in the kosher kitchen has the got Mashgiach mates
    approval. Aye, the ladies dresses and sleeves are long, necklines high.

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