Sephardic Jewish Pirates and the Caribbean Connection

Better Essays
Leeba Freund
Mrs. Cohen
Jewish History
December 17, 2010

Sephardic Jewish Pirates & the Caribbean Connection

If you plan on touring the island of Jamaica, you may be interested in visiting the oldest Jewish cemetery, Hunt’s Bay cemetery, near Kingston. Kingston has a Jewish community dating back to the 1600s. What you will find in this cemetery may astonish you: typical Jewish gravestones with a Hebrew inscription. But that is not the unusual part; in the corner of some gravestones, you’ll see carved pictures of skulls and crossbones. What are crossbones doing in a Jewish cemetery? What is the connection between the Jews of Jamaica and Piracy? [pic] [pic] [pic] Hunt 's Bay Cemetery - http://picasaweb.google.com/alonigi/HuntSBayCemetery#

HOW THE JEWS CAME TO JAMAICA It was January 1492. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain had finally conquered the Moors and the royal coffers were empty. In return for Christopher Columbus’ courageous expedition to chart a new water route to India, King Ferdinand agreed to the condition that Columbus and his descendants would rule any new land he discovered on his way. The stipulation of hereditary rule for Columbus was crucial to Jews situated in Spain on the eve of the expulsion. Where could the Jews go; where they would be accepted and tolerated? If the Spanish Jewish refugees would not be welcome in China or India, then at least Columbus, as ruler of a new land, would be able to provide a safe place for them; not just for the Jews who were expelled, but also their Marrano brethren. With the Inquisition’s fires raging, and the Inquisitors hot on the trail of every Marrano, there was hope that Columbus’ voyage would discover new lands as a haven for them as well. It was then that Columbus, financed by Luis de Santangel, the Royal finance minister and a secret Jew, and his wealthy Marrano friends, insisted upon this condition. Due to the Crown’s great need of new lucrative sources of



Bibliography: Binah Magazine, 29 Kislev 5771. “Pirates in the Caribbean and the Jews who stood behind them” Kritzler, Edward. 2008. Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean. Doubleday Arbell, Mordechai. 2000. The Portuguese Jews of Jamaica. Canoe Press Se

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