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August 30, 2016 / 26 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Spanish’

Kosher Food And Wine Experience

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

   Kosher wines have improved greatly in the last 20 years. Much of the credit can be given to the Golan Heights winery in Israel, which ignited the quality wine revolution when they released their first wines in 1983. Stateside, however, it has been the Herzog family and their Royal Wine Corporation that has introduced U.S.-based kosher consumers to premium wines.

 

   Recently, Royal Wine began to host an event known as the “Kosher Food and Wine Experience” to showcase their numerous offerings. On February 23, the third annual event was held at the Metropolitan Pavilion on 18th Street in New York City.

 

   From Spain, a new winery in the Royal portfolio is Elvi Wines, which began producing kosher wines in 2002 with the leadership of consulting winemaker and agronomist Dr. Moises Cohen.

 

   Elvi produces a Spanish sparkling wine known as “Cava.” They are set to release their first white wine, a blend of sauvignon blanc and muscatel that has beautiful aromas of flowers, tropical fruit and bubble gum. But Elvi has become known for their Spanish-style red wines. I tasted six reds, including the 2007 Elvi Classico, their first mevushal wine. One of them is the 2005 EL 26, a wine I would be proud to pour at my Seder. A blend of five varietals, the EL 26 features a combination of aromas from mint and wood smoke to dark fruit and forest pine. This velvety wine has an excellent structure and long finish (aftertaste) and is a perfect pairing for roasts made with Mediterranean spices.

 

   Moving around the world we land in New Zealand where Goose Bay is producing world-class wines under the guidance of winemaker Philip Jones.

 

   Goose Bay wines are mevushal (flash pasteurized) and the only kosher wine made in New Zealand. Clean, crisp, and refreshing are not words one might associate with mevushal wines, but Jones’s wines prove otherwise. He furthermore believes that his method to quickly bring the juice (before it is fermented) up to 187 degrees and then quickly back down to 75 degrees helps to bring out some of the fabulous aromas his wines possess. The event featured the crisp 2007 Pinot Gris with its fruity pear aromas and the subtly elegant 2007 Pinot Noir, a delicious light-bodied wine with red forest fruit aromas and flavors. But when one thinks about New Zealand wines it is sauvignon blanc that first comes to mind, and the 2007 Goose Bay Sauvignon Blanc does not disappoint. This light straw, almost clear wine has lovely citrus and grassy aromas. Lemon zest flavors and a zippy acidity make it a terrific match for spicy foods as well as sushi.

 

   Israel’s wines have gained recognition of late, following extensive tastings by Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator magazines. While the larger wineries in Israel produce most of the country’s wine, they are outnumbered by the boutique wineries more than 20 to 1. The small family-run winery Castel is the darling of the boutiques.

 

   Castel is represented by patriarch and winemaker Eli Ben Zaken and his son and COO Eytan Ben Zaken, who make wines that they love to drink: a white from chardonnay, known as C Blanc du Castel, made in the style of a French white burgundy; two reds, both bordeaux blends; and the highly sought after flagship wine, the Grand Vin, and its little brother, the Petit Castel.

 

   They were pouring both the 2006 as well as the 2003 C Blanc du Castel. The 2006 had a big tropical fruit nose, but I preferred the 2003 that also possessed toasty and tropical aromas but was at this point in its life more subtle and elegant.

 

   They also poured two vintages of the Grand Vin. The recently released 2006 and the 2005 from a double magnum, which is three liters or the equivalent of four bottles. The 2006 Grand Vin seemed a bit young while the 2005 Grand Vin was delicious with black cherry, spice and earthy characteristics.

 

   But it was the 2006 Petit Castel that stood out. Made from 50 percent merlot, 45 percent cabernet sauvignon and five percent petit verdot, this wine had aromas of herbs and eucalyptus and lovely red and black fruit flavors. At about half the cost of its big brother, the Petit might not age as gracefully or pack the same punch, but it was showing very nicely and I would recommend popping the cork of a Petit with a steak or lamb stew.

 

   The show was a clear success, evidenced by the guest’s reluctance to leave. They were savoring the desserts and final sips of their wine until the lights went out and the final curtain closed on the 2009 Kosher Food and Wine Experience.


 


   Gary Landsman, a.k.a. the “wine tasting guy,” makes, sells, writes about and, of course, tastes wines. Visit his blog at www.winetastingguy.com or contact him with any wine related questions at gary@winetastingguy.com.

Gary Landsman

Kosher Food And Wine Experience

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

   Kosher wines have improved greatly in the last 20 years. Much of the credit can be given to the Golan Heights winery in Israel, which ignited the quality wine revolution when they released their first wines in 1983. Stateside, however, it has been the Herzog family and their Royal Wine Corporation that has introduced U.S.-based kosher consumers to premium wines.

 

   Recently, Royal Wine began to host an event known as the “Kosher Food and Wine Experience” to showcase their numerous offerings. On February 23, the third annual event was held at the Metropolitan Pavilion on 18th Street in New York City.

 

   From Spain, a new winery in the Royal portfolio is Elvi Wines, which began producing kosher wines in 2002 with the leadership of consulting winemaker and agronomist Dr. Moises Cohen.

 

   Elvi produces a Spanish sparkling wine known as “Cava.” They are set to release their first white wine, a blend of sauvignon blanc and muscatel that has beautiful aromas of flowers, tropical fruit and bubble gum. But Elvi has become known for their Spanish-style red wines. I tasted six reds, including the 2007 Elvi Classico, their first mevushal wine. One of them is the 2005 EL 26, a wine I would be proud to pour at my Seder. A blend of five varietals, the EL 26 features a combination of aromas from mint and wood smoke to dark fruit and forest pine. This velvety wine has an excellent structure and long finish (aftertaste) and is a perfect pairing for roasts made with Mediterranean spices.

 

   Moving around the world we land in New Zealand where Goose Bay is producing world-class wines under the guidance of winemaker Philip Jones.

 

   Goose Bay wines are mevushal (flash pasteurized) and the only kosher wine made in New Zealand. Clean, crisp, and refreshing are not words one might associate with mevushal wines, but Jones’s wines prove otherwise. He furthermore believes that his method to quickly bring the juice (before it is fermented) up to 187 degrees and then quickly back down to 75 degrees helps to bring out some of the fabulous aromas his wines possess. The event featured the crisp 2007 Pinot Gris with its fruity pear aromas and the subtly elegant 2007 Pinot Noir, a delicious light-bodied wine with red forest fruit aromas and flavors. But when one thinks about New Zealand wines it is sauvignon blanc that first comes to mind, and the 2007 Goose Bay Sauvignon Blanc does not disappoint. This light straw, almost clear wine has lovely citrus and grassy aromas. Lemon zest flavors and a zippy acidity make it a terrific match for spicy foods as well as sushi.

 

   Israel’s wines have gained recognition of late, following extensive tastings by Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator magazines. While the larger wineries in Israel produce most of the country’s wine, they are outnumbered by the boutique wineries more than 20 to 1. The small family-run winery Castel is the darling of the boutiques.

 

   Castel is represented by patriarch and winemaker Eli Ben Zaken and his son and COO Eytan Ben Zaken, who make wines that they love to drink: a white from chardonnay, known as C Blanc du Castel, made in the style of a French white burgundy; two reds, both bordeaux blends; and the highly sought after flagship wine, the Grand Vin, and its little brother, the Petit Castel.

 

   They were pouring both the 2006 as well as the 2003 C Blanc du Castel. The 2006 had a big tropical fruit nose, but I preferred the 2003 that also possessed toasty and tropical aromas but was at this point in its life more subtle and elegant.

 

   They also poured two vintages of the Grand Vin. The recently released 2006 and the 2005 from a double magnum, which is three liters or the equivalent of four bottles. The 2006 Grand Vin seemed a bit young while the 2005 Grand Vin was delicious with black cherry, spice and earthy characteristics.

 

   But it was the 2006 Petit Castel that stood out. Made from 50 percent merlot, 45 percent cabernet sauvignon and five percent petit verdot, this wine had aromas of herbs and eucalyptus and lovely red and black fruit flavors. At about half the cost of its big brother, the Petit might not age as gracefully or pack the same punch, but it was showing very nicely and I would recommend popping the cork of a Petit with a steak or lamb stew.

 

   The show was a clear success, evidenced by the guest’s reluctance to leave. They were savoring the desserts and final sips of their wine until the lights went out and the final curtain closed on the 2009 Kosher Food and Wine Experience.

 

   Gary Landsman, a.k.a. the “wine tasting guy,” makes, sells, writes about and, of course, tastes wines. Visit his blog at www.winetastingguy.com or contact him with any wine related questions at gary@winetastingguy.com.

Gary Landsman

Putting the Oy Back into ‘Ahoy’

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

  They did not sing “Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Manischewitz,” nor do they ever seem to appear in any of the Disney films about pirates in the Caribbean. The website piratesinfo.com carries not a single reference to them.

  And while September 19 has for a number of years now been designated International Talk Like a Pirate Day (there are even Internet courses available in pirate lingo), none of its initiators seems to have had Ladino (the language spoken by Jewish refugees expelled by the Spanish and Portuguese after the Reconquista) in mind.

  Swashbuckling buccaneers who took time to put on tefillin each morning? Better get used to the idea. Long overlooked, the history of Jewish piracy has been garnering increasing interest, with several serious books and articles telling its epic tales.

  Many Jewish pirates came from families of refugees who had been expelled by Spain and Portugal. They took to piracy as part of a strategy of revenge on the Iberian powers (though lining their pockets with Spanish doubloons was no doubt also a motive). Many of these pirates mixed traditional Jewish lifestyles with their exploits on the high seas.

* * * * *

  Jewish refugees from Portugal first settled in Jamaica in 1511, probably originally as sugar growers, and some took up piracy. The British, led by Admiral William Penn (the father of the William Penn who established Philadelphia), took over the island from the Spanish in 1655, reportedly with assistance from local Jews and Marranos (crypto-Jews), all of whom were allowed to remain.

  By 1720, as many as 20 percent of the residents of Kingston were Jews. Over time, Ashkenazi Jews arrived and their synagogues operated alongside the Sephardic ones (the congregations all merged in the 20th century). Jewish tombstones dating back to 1672 have been found there, with Portuguese, Hebrew and English inscriptions.

  Some Jews went into local Jamaican politics, and there were so many in the Jamaican parliament in the 19th century that it became the only parliament on earth that did not hold deliberations on Saturday. The Jewish community of Jamaica today numbers a couple hundred and calls itself the United Congregation of Israelites in Jamaica (UCIJA). The active synagogue there is built in Sephardic style and is one of the few left in the world with a sand floor. Naturally, its official website includes a page on the pirate ancestors of Jewish residents (ucija.org/pirates.htm).

  According to an article earlier this year in the Israeli weekly Bakihilot, municipal workers in Kingston recently uncovered a long forgotten pirate graveyard. Among the tombstones are those with Jewish stars and Hebrew inscriptions, together with pirate symbols such as the skull and crossbones.

  Similar Jewish pirate graves have been found near Bridgetown in the Barbados and in the old Jewish graveyard in Curacao. Jamaican-born Jewish historian Ed Kritzler claims that Jewish pirates once operated there, raiding the Spanish Main wearing tallis shawls. He’s just published a book titled Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean and conducts private tours of the “Jewish pirate coves” of Jamaica.

  Kritzler’s book includes the saga of one Moses Cohen Henriques, who participated in one of history’s largest sea heists against Spain. In 1628, Henriques sailed together with Dutch Admiral Piet Hein, of the Dutch West India Company, who hated Spain after having been held as a slave for four years on a Spanish galleon. They raided Spanish ships off Matanzas Bay in Cuba, commandeering large amounts of gold and silver.

  Henriques set up his own pirate “Treasure Island” on a deserted island off the Brazilian coast on which Jews could openly practice their religion. (He also served as adviser to Henry Morgan, perhaps the most famous pirate of all time; Errol Flynn played Morgan in the movie “Captain Blood.”) After the recapture of Brazil by Portugal in 1654, some of these Jews would sail off to set up a brand new Jewish community in a place called New Amsterdam, now known as New York.

  In many cases Jewish pirates collaborated with Holland, a friendly and welcoming state for Jews. One such pirate was Rabbi Samuel Pallache, a leader of the Moroccan Jewish community in Fez. Born in The Hague, he was son of a leading rabbi from Cordoba who ended up in Morocco. From there he was sent to Holland as envoy of the Moroccan sultan, who was seeking allies against Spain. He became a personal friend of Dutch Crown Prince Maurice, who commissioned him as a privateer, and served for years as a pirate under a Netherlands flag and with Dutch letters of marque. Rabbi Pallache recruited Marranos for his crews.

  In other cases Jewish pirates worked for the Ottomans. A Jewish pirate named Sinan, known to his Spanish prey as “The Great Jew,” was born in what is now Turkey and operated out of Algiers. He first served as second in command to the famous pirate Barbarossa. (No connection to the fictional Barbarossa of the Disney films.) Their pirate flag carried a six-pointed star called the Seal of Solomon by the Ottomans.

  Sinan led the force that defeated a Genoan navy hired by Spain to rid the Barbary Coast of corsairs. He then conquered Tripoli in Libya, and was eventually appointed supreme Ottoman naval commander. He is buried in a Jewish cemetery in Albania.

  A Jewish pirate named Yaakov Koriel commanded three pirate ships in the Caribbean. He later repented and ended up in Safed as one of the Kabbalah students of the Ari (Rabbi Isaac Luria) and is buried near the Ari’s grave.

  A pirate named David Abrabanel, evidently from the same family as the famous Spanish rabbinic dynasty (which included Rabbi Isaac Abrabanel), joined British privateers after his family was butchered off the South American coast. He used the nom de guerre “Captain Davis” and commanded his own pirate vessel named The Jerusalem. According to at least one report, he was the person who discovered what is now called Easter Island.

  Several Jewish corsairs operated against Spanish ships off the coast of Chile. There are reports that their galleys were kosher and they abstained from raids on the Sabbath. A maritime museum in Chile today holds letters of communication among these pirates composed in Hebrew.

  One pirate leader was named Subatol Deul. On a trip up the coast he stumbled across a ship under the command of the pirate Henry Drake, son of Sir Francis Drake. They decided to create an alliance of anti-Spanish pirates, the “Black Flag Fraternity.”

  Deul and Drake reportedly buried treasure on an island near Coquimbo in 1645. A chapter in the book Piracy & Plunder: A Murderous Business, by Milton Meltzer, is devoted to Deul’s swashbuckling career.

  There also were Jewish corsairs based in Curacao next to Venezuela. The local Curacao rabbi once berated his community’s pirates when they thoughtlessly attacked a ship owned by a fellow Jew. At least it wasn’t done on the Sabbath.

  The history of Jewish pirates goes far back: Josephus mentions Jewish pirates operating in the seas off the Land of Israel in Roman times. There is a drawing of a pirate ship inside Jason’s Tomb in Jerusalem. The Hasmonean Hyrcanus accused Aristobulus, his brother, of “acts of piracy at sea.” In its last days, the Seleucid empire (the one fought by the Maccabees) was plagued by Jewish and Arab pirates.

  Pirates operated from coves along the Levantine coast for centuries, and my own city of Haifa was once known as The Little Malta because of its notorious pirates. (The local pirates these days seem to specialize mainly in computer software.)

  The fact that some Jews seemed to have taken so easily to the pirate lifestyle may have been due in part to other skills developed by Jews over the centuries. Cartography, for example, was considered a Jewish specialty in the 15th and 16th centuries, and Christopher Columbus is believed to have consulted the work of a Jewish cartographer, one Abraham Cresque of Mallorca, who produced the Catalan Atlas in 1375. Portuguese Jewish cartographers and scientists contributed to Vasco Da Gama’s voyage of discovery to the Cape of Good Hope in 1497. Jews also worked on ships as navigators.

* * * * *

  Perhaps the most important Jewish pirate of all was the Caribbean pirate Jean Lafitte, a familiar name to many American schoolchildren. He and his men, pirates trained in cannon fire, came to the aid of General (later President) Andrew Jackson and played a critical role in winning the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812. A Jean Lafitte National Historic Park stands today on the outskirts of the city.

  What is still largely unknown is that Lafitte was a Jew, born either in Western France or in what is now Haiti. A while back my friend Edward Bernard Glick, a retired professor of political science living in Oregon, published an article in the Jerusalem Post (July 14, 2006) on Lafitte’s Jewish origins and it stirred up a storm of interest. Parts of Rabbi I. Harold Sharfman’s book Jews on the Frontier also discuss Lafitte’s life.

  According to Glick, “[Lafitte] was a Sephardi Jew, as was his first wife, who was born in the Danish Virgin Islands. In his prime, Lafitte ran not just one pirate sloop but a whole fleet of them simultaneously. He even bought a blacksmith shop in New Orleans, which he used as a front for fencing pirate loot. And he was one of the few buccaneers who didn’t die in battle, in prison or on the gallows.”

  Glick claims the British tried to recruit Lafitte to guide them through the swamps to ambush the Americans, but Lafitte instead showed General “Old Hickory” Jackson Britain’s battle plans to attack New Orleans. The rest is history.

  Years before the Battle of New Orleans, Louisiana Governor William C. C. Claiborne placed a reward of $500 on Lafitte’s head. Lafitte retaliated by putting a $5,000 bounty on the head of the governor. Neither collected.

  Lafitte later commanded his own “kingdom” named Campeche on the island of Galveston, Texas, then nominally under Spanish rule. Some of Lafitte’s trading activities were conducted by Jao de la Porta, a Portuguese Jew from Spanish Texas. Among their clients was Jim Bowie, made famous at the Alamo and also for the special knife.

* * * * *

  Mention of Jewish pirates can pop up in some unexpected places. Just before Rosh Hashanah this year, the liberal Huffington Post website carried a post by humorist Andy Borowitz “reporting” that the group of Somali pirates who had just hijacked a ship full of Ukrainians in the Gulf of Aden was calling a halt to the piracy in honor of the Jewish High Holidays.

 Wrote Borowitz: ” ‘To all of our Jewish friends, we say a hearty Shana Tova,’ said pirate spokesman Sugule, moments before the pirates hoisted a Star of David flag over the captured ship. Sugule took pains to indicate that while the pirates were taking a Rosh Hashanah break from their usual plundering and pillaging schedule, they were doing so only out of respect for Jewish pirates and not because they are Jewish themselves. ‘None of us Somali pirates are Jewish,’ he said. ‘Except for Abe in accounting, who’s half.’ “

 And there are others who are getting into the spirit of things. The Bangitout.com Jewish humor website listed a set of halachic challenges for Jewish pirates, including the following:

  If you have a hook instead of a hand, on which arm do you put tefillin?
   Does your treasure map show how far the eruv extends?
   How long do you wait, after capturing a plundered ship, to put up a mezuzah in the captain’s cabin?
   Should you cover your eye patch with your hand when you say the Shema?
   Can you wear a leather boot over your peg leg on Yom Kippur?
   Are you able to carry on the plank on Shabbos? If your parrot is on your shoulder, is that carrying?

  Personally, I think the biggest challenge to Jewish pirates occurs at Purim. After walking around all year decked out like that, what could they possibly dress up as? Accountants?

  In a way, the legacy of Jewish pirates is alive and well in Israel today. One of the most outstanding examples of the Jewish state’s derring-do was when it stole five gunboats out of the port of Cherbourg in France – ships that had already been paid for by Israel but that France, as punishment for Israel’s Six-Day War victory, was refusing to deliver.

  Israeli agents operating through a front corporation seized the ships on December 25, 1969 and sailed them to Haifa. The details of that piracy are engagingly told in The Boats of Cherbourg (1997) by Abraham Rabinovich.

  So let’s swab the decks, count our doubloons and grant the Jewish pirates their proper place in history. In other words, it’s time to put the oy back into “ahoy.”

  Steven Plaut, a professor at Haifa University, is a frequent contributor to The Jewish Press. His book “The Scout” is available at Amazon.com. He can be contacted at steveneplaut@yahoo.com.

Steven Plaut

Early Caribbean Jewish Communities (Part I)

Wednesday, October 4th, 2006

     Places like Barbados, Curacao, Jamaica, Tobago, the Lesser Antilles, and St. Eustatia probably conjure up, in the minds of many Jewish Press readers, visions of vacation resorts. But many may not know that Jewish communities existed in these places as early as the first part of the seventeenth century. Jews lived in the Caribbean (formerly referred to as the West Indies) years before they settled in New York in 1654.
 
      The establishment of the first permanent Jewish communities in the Western Hemisphere during the middle of the seventeenth century was viewed by Spanish and Portuguese Jews with satisfaction and pleasure. On the one hand, these settlements represented an extension of the prodigious commercial activity of Spanish and Portuguese Jews; on the other, some felt that this activity represented the realization of the Messianic age.
 
      Indeed, in 1650, no less a personality than Haham Menasseh ben Israel of Amsterdam wrote that in his opinion the establishment of American synagogues corresponded to prophesies in the Book of Daniel. Some years later the poet Daniel Levi de Barrios confirmed the ideas of Menasseh ben Israel in a bizarre interpretation of the text of Zechariah. According to de Barrios the prophet literally mentioned the Americas!
 
      It may well have been that the theories of Haham Menasseh ben Israel and Daniel Levi de Barrios were, to some extent, motivating factors behind the emigration of Jews to the Western Hemisphere during the seventeenth century. One should keep in mind that these enterprising men, while intensely interested in material gains, were at the same time idealists. Most had lost their wealth in Spain or Portugal due to the persecutions of the infamous Inquisition. In addition, they had suffered torture and imprisonment.
 
      Rather than abandon their Jewish religious convictions, they chose to forsake the land they loved – home of their forefathers for centuries. The New World held out the tantalizing prospect of being able to practice Judaism, if not openly then at least with less fear of persecution.
 
      This and the next Glimpses column will deal with some of the history of some of the more prominent early Caribbean Jewish communities.
 

Barbados

 

      Barbados was captured by the British in 1605. Jews are said to have settled on this island as early as 1628. Since Jews were expelled from England in 1290 and were not permitted, until 1656, to openly live as Jews in England, those Jews who initially came to Barbados must have been forced to live as crypto-Jews (Marranos).
 
      Professing Jews did not reach Barbados until 1656 when Abraham de Mercado, a medical doctor, and his son, David-Raphael de Mercado, were granted permission to settle there by the British government. Until 1654 Dr. de Mercado had resided in Recife, Brazil. While there he had been one of the elders of the Jewish community. He was so highly respected that in 1641 Menasseh ben Israel dedicated one of his books to him. David-Raphael de Mercado was a man of considerable means, and in 1679 his name headed the list as the largest Jewish taxpayer in Barbados.
 
      Rabbi Eliyahu Lopes, who left Amsterdam for Barbados in Tammuz 5438 (July 1678), was the first haham of the Jewish community. While still relatively young, he had established a reputation as an effective preacher in Amsterdam. In 1675 he was given the honor of preaching the sermon at the dedication of the Portuguese synagogue in Amsterdam. There is evidence that Rabbi Lopes was still serving in his position as Haham in 1683. The Jewish community apparently expanded during the 1680’s, because by 1688 there were two synagogues in different parts of the island.
 
      The Jews of Barbados remained generally committed to the traditions of their forefathers and did not forget their former Jewish European communities. Records show that one Yirmiyahu Burgos of Barbados sent one hundred florins to Amsterdam to be dispensed to the poor and needy.
 
      The persecutions of the Inquisition in Spain and Portugal were responsible for a continuous influx of Jews to Barbados during the eighteenth century.
 

Jamaica

 

      Christopher Columbus made a total of four trips to the Caribbean and South America during the years 1492-1504. On May 4, 1494, during his second voyage, he arrived at the island of Jamaica. Columbus annexed the island in the name of his master and mistress, the king and queen of Spain. However, it was not settled by the Spanish until Juan de Esquivel came from Santo Domingo in 1509.  For the next 146 years Jamaica remained a Spanish colony.
 
      In 1580, King Philip II of Spain united the crowns of Spain and Portugal. It is likely that shortly thereafter Marranos from Portugal arrived with other merchant adventurers to participate in the colonization of Jamaica.
 
      In 1655 the island was captured by the English. Some of the Jews who fled from Recife, Brazil when the Portuguese recaptured it in 1654 ended up settling on the island of Jamaica. The Jewish community began to prosper, and in 1684 a synagogue was dedicated. Shortly after its completion Rabbi Yeosiahu Pardo arrived to serve as haham.
 
      Among the first settlers sent to Jamaica by the Amsterdam community were Aron de Mosseh Tartas, who emigrated in 1694, and Daniel Ribeyro de Payva, who arrived in 1717. Their ancestors and relatives were persecuted by the Portuguese Inquisition. In 1647 Isaac de Castro Tartas was burned at the stake in Lisbon; Antonio Ribeiro de Payva, an apothecary in S. Vicente de Beira born at Penamacor in about 1721, was sentenced to prison for Judaizing, and reconciled in the auto da f? of Lisbon on September 24, 1747.
 
      In 1760 Reverend Isaac Touro, a native of Holland, left Jamaica to serve as chazzan of the Yeshuat Israel Synagogue (subsequently known as the historic Touro Synagogue) in Newport, Rhode Island. His son Judah Touro (1775-1854), who was born in Newport, was the famous philanthropist.
 
      “A Tory, Judah’s father remained with his family in Newport after the British captured the city. The Touros became dependent upon the charity of the British occupying forces, which helped the family relocate to Jamaica, West Indies, where Isaac died in 1783.”[i]
 

      (This article is based in part on “Notes on the Spanish and Portuguese Jews in the United States, Guiana, and the Dutch and British West Indies During the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries” by Cardozo De Bethencourt, Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society, 1925, 29, available at www.ajhs.org/reference.adaje.cfm.)



[i] www.ajhs.org/publications/chapters/chapter.cfm?documentID=223

 

 

      Dr. Yitzchok Levine, a frequent contributor to The Jewish Press, is a professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey. Glimpses Into American Jewish History appears the first week of each month. Dr. Levine can be contacted at llevine@stevens.edu.

Dr. Yitzchok Levine

Latest In Kosher Food

Wednesday, November 24th, 2004

Sabra Salads (Blue and White Foods, OK and Rav Weissmandel, Pareve) a name already synonymous with Middle Eastern fare, has a relatively new line of dips and spreads that are mouth-watering delicious. Hummus in flavors like Luscious Lemon, Roasted Pine Nuts and Supremely Spicy, eggplant prepared in the Spanish style, roasted or babaganoush, Spanish and Mediterranean salsa and tabouli and more. In our office, it’s just not Shabbos without a container of Sabra hummus and tehina on the table. Now available in larger size container, Sabra salads are great as an accompaniment to meat or fish, smeared on a slice of challah or bread, or as a dip for vegetables. You can find their whole line in your local kosher grocery or in the kosher food section of your local supermarket.

Steaz Soda (The Healthy Beverage Company, OU). Resembling the old 12 oz. glass soda bottles with screw-off cap, these sodas are 100% organic and made with green tea. I know what you’re thinking, because I thought it too, but they are delicious. They are lightly carbonated and available in cola, root beer, orange, raspberry, lemon dew, and key lime. No refined sugar, chemical preservatives or artificial flavors. And incredibly delicious. Did I say that already? Well, it’s true. I love the root beer so that’s my favorite, but at home and in the office, all the flavors were enjoyed. Available in some supermarkets and specialty health food stores, Steaz Soda can also be purchased on the web at www.healthybeverage.com. ◙


In 1866, a couple named Warneke started a bakery on the banks of the Missouri River. The family was very successful and in 1886, they opened three stores simultaneously in Kansas City. The business eventually consolidated and became General Baking Company. One of the brands they produced was Bond Bread. The advertisement you see here was created by BBDO (a well-known ad agency) for Rosh Hashanah 1936.

Chumi Friedman

Suffocating In Mass Society: The bloodless death of individual dignity in America (Second of Two Parts)

Friday, October 1st, 2004

“The mass,” said the Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset in 1930, “crushes beneath it everything that is different, everything that is excellent, individual, qualified and select.” Today, in deference to the Many, the intellectually and culturally unambitious mass not only celebrates the commonplace (which it has been taught to do), it openly proclaims and spreads our American epoch of engineered mediocrity as an enviable form of democracy. While the unparalleled danger of our apocalyptic time palpitates under the miming masses who wish merely to “succeed,” the dignified grace of the Few is harder and harder to discover.

This is not an argument for monarchy or social aristocracy. It is not a call for hierarchic separations based upon considerations of wealth or birth. Not at all. It is, rather, a plaintive cry that we now demand more of ourselves, as Americans, as persons, as thinkers, and as people of belief.

Ortega y Gasset reminds us that “…the most radical division ….is that which splits humanity into two classes of creatures: those who make great demands on themselves, piling up
difficulties and duties; and those who demand nothing special of themselves, but for whom to live is to be every moment what they already are, without imposing on themselves any effort towards perfection; mere buoys that float on the waves.”

In 1965, the Jewish philosopher Abraham J. Heschel offered an almost identical argument. Lamenting that “The emancipated man is yet to emerge,” Heschel asked all human beings to raise the following questions: “What is expected of me? What is demanded of me?”

Indebtedness – an indebtedness to become Few – is, for Heschel, given with our very being in the universe. Living at a moment in history when it is almost impossible to think of collective human behavior without anguish and disgust – especially for Jews – it is required that camouflage and concealment in the Many give way to what Heschel calls “being-challenged-in-the-world,” to becoming and sustaining the Few. Resisting the luring flushes of creature comfort that always accompany mass, a courageous individual who risks disapproval for the sake of becoming. Few now offers America the only real republic worth preserving.

The Many make the American imagination thoroughly reproductive. Feeding off familiar images of contrived pleasure and contentment, this anonymous mass – by its persistent forfeiture of individuality – routinely subordinates all intellectual life to a ritual of mimicry. In this America, which routinely blocks access to more genuine images of meaning and self-worth offered by the Few, the sinister caress of the crowd manifests itself in everything – from an insufferably vulgar politics and cheap entertainments to widespread gluttony, dehumanized public schools and random violence.

The Many, of course, can never become Few, but certain individual members of the mass can make the transformation. Moreover, just as more and more individual Americans must now accept the perilous challenges of the world, those who are already part of the Few must maintain their essential stance against mass. Aware that they comprise a last barrier to America’s spiritual, cultural, intellectual and political disintegration, these select few amongst the Few must understand, soon, that staying the more difficult course of personal challenge and renewal is the only decent option. With their minds now fixed on what is truly precious, the Few will brood and dream at the edges of our material world, consciously separating themselves from those who must always epitomize cowardice, compromise and servility. With the market for individual meaning removed from the sweating palms of the crowd, these Few Americans will steadfastly refuse the inhuman disfigurement that comes with “fitting in.”

For now, the Many still rule uncontested in America. Joined at the hip with this pattern of rule, the upcoming presidential election will change nothing of ultimate importance to our lives. True change can happen only when expanding numbers of Americans begin to distance themselves from an anesthetized society of strong appetites but little taste, of surface confidence but limited ideals, of great zeal but no aspiration, of democratic politics but no ascertainable wisdom. Once this distancing can come to pass, the destructive propositions of the Many will collapse. Then, and only then, will we Americans be able ward off the laughable conceit that we have been “successful.” Only then – no longer shorn of all dignity and reverence – will we reasonably expect not to suffocate in a despairingly lonely crowd.

(c) The Jewish Press, 2004, all rights reserved.

LOUIS RENE BERES was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971) and is author of many books and articles dealing with international relations and international law. He is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.

Louis Rene Beres

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