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May 20, 2016 2:00 am

Graves of Jewish Pirates in Jamaica Give Caribbean Tourists Taste of Little-Known History

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

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A gravestone of a Jewish pirate in Jamaica. Photo: onthemainline.blogspot.

A Jewish pirate’s gravestone in Jamaica. Photo: onthemainline.blogspot.

Tour operators are calling attention to Jamaica’s little-known Jewish heritage by arranging visits to historic Jewish sites on the Caribbean island, including a cemetery where Jewish pirates are buried.

A report in Travel and Leisure magazine describes the Hunts Bay Cemetery in Kingston, where there are seven tombstones engraved with Hebrew benedictions and skull and crossbones insignia.

According to the report, centuries ago, Jewish pirates sailed the waters of Jamaica and settled in Port Royal. The town, once known as “the wickedest city in the world,” was the inspiration for the Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise and amusement park ride.

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Though today’s Jamaican Jewish population is fewer than 200, there are at least 21 Jewish burial grounds across the island, according to Travel and Leisure.

The trip to visit the graves of the Jewish pirates was organized by Caribbean Volunteer Expeditions (CVE), a non-profit that focuses on cultural preservation across the islands. The organization, established in 2007, promotes conservation of Jewish gravestones and has been transcribing epitaphs and compiling an inventory of Jewish grave sites. It works with New York-based architect Rachel Frankel to organize trips to the Caribbean.

Falmouth Heritage Walks in Falmouth, Jamaica — a hub for cruise lines — also offers tours of Jewish cemeteries, as does Anna Ruth Henriques, a descendant of “Jewmaicans,” through Jamaica Jewish Tours. Henriques launched the tour company in 2014 and offers customized itineraries that take tourists to iconic spots linked to the island’s Jewish identity. Tourists can also visit the once Jewish-owned Appleton rum distillery and the Serge Island, Good Hope and Hampden sugar plantations.

The first time Jews were recognized as a part of Jamaican cultural life was in 1655, when Britain took control of the island and welcomed Jewish immigrants, according to Travel and Leisure. Many worked as gold traders and sugar merchants, but some became thieving pirates.

Jamaica currently has one synagogue, called Shaare Shalom, adjacent to the Jewish Heritage Center, which houses exhibits connected to the island’s Jewish heritage.

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  • Nicra Nicra

    This synagogue was built in the 18th century (1730s’ or 1740s’). Kinsgton was founded in 1692, when Port-Royal was destroyed by a tsunami.

  • RW

    There are good and bad people of all races and persuasions.

  • Recall the Blood Libel
    Said a proverb,”A tale bearers seperates friends.” Maybe “evidence”, needs proof? Maybe someone told a lie, and now we see the repetition?

  • Charles Nankin

    having lived in spain, portugal and brazil, i have been transported back to these unbelievable times. some fascinating people. some horrific acts of abuse. all now bred into a culture – the Latin world – that continues to enthrall and sadden.

    there is no doubt that studying jewish history is the best defense for understanding the future.

  • Jerry Casey

    I enjoyed the back and forth comments in this discussion about the Jewish involvement in the slave trade and the pirating in the early days of the Carriabbean. It was quite fainting to see the Many perceptions presented.

    • Shane

      The reason you are a piece of garbage ‘jerry’ is that Jews were the ONLY ones in Christian and Muslim law not allowed to own slaves. You are so evil now to blame that on us.

      Jews were often lower than slaves.

      Blacks could own slaves more than Jews.

  • David E. Cohen

    If you enjoyed this brief article, I’d like to suggest you read the book, “Jewish Pirates of the Carribbean. Very well written and informative.

    • I agree, “Jewish Pirates of the Carribbean in a wonderful book. I have family in Jamaica, Barbados and Antigua, though the Antiguans are Ashkenazim who were escaping Hitler. The others have been there for centuries, especially the Benjamin family in Barbados.

      Josephine Bacon

  • citizenstat

    Arrr, Moishe!

  • Ruth Rolle

    Whatever happened to civilized discourse, folks?
    Do your brain a favour and read please go read this:

    http://www.amazon.com/Jews-Blacks-Early-Modern-World/dp/0521527236

    Thanks.

  • There is actually 2 synagogues in Jamaica

    1 in Kingston called sharei shalom

    And the 2nd one in Montego Bay called Chabad Jewish center of Jamaica which is your number one stop for anything Jewish on island

    • Tika HaLapid

      Thank you, Rabbi! I love Chabad! Even though I’m Sephardi,
      I love your spirit and openness! Everyone is welcomed!
      My nephew is going to China, and he already knows
      where Chabad is!

  • The Transatlantic Slave Trade was done by the Jews. they have done it for thousands of years since the time of Moses who encouraged the Hebrews to enslave the people of every nation they conquered. The Jews are the most destructive people in the world.

    • Zucker

      It’s a bird ? …,, No. It’s a plane ? …. No. It’s Isaac ! When ignorance meets stupidity. You have moronic comments.

      • lena866

        Pho-Isaac, it was Muslim Arabs who colonized half of Africa, taking millions of Africans as slaves. Ask yourself, why are there NO AfroArabians. Because all the men were castrated, with a 70% death rate. The women were made sex slaves (al a ISIS, the true face of Islam) When the women gave birth, the infant was killed immediately. Arabs are color-racists.

    • Hai

      Hitler says “hi” …

    • And if your name is Isaac I’m Ahmed.

    • lena866

      Pho-Isaac, Arab Muslims were at the center of the African slave trade. Any contribution by Jews was infinitesimal, and had only to do with financing just a few of the ships. Your ignorance is born of pure, evil racism.

    • Malcolm Sullivan

      Can’t be – they missed you

    • Jon Gordon

      And being that they control the world economy, they are all massively rich except one and tragically, I know who he is. Damn.

    • Ivana Talya Tufakov

      Hey Isaac – when yer both stupid AND an a**hole, yer an
      IGNORANUS.

    • Isaac, the Jew hater are you working for al sharpton or Farrakhan the biggest ignoramous when it comes to Jews? Yes, you are plain stupid.

    • Issac, You are truly a misguided and uninformed MORON. And unfortunately you carry the blessed name of Judiasm’s Second Forefather Issac! How unfortunate. In the Old Testament, Five Books Of Moses, it is strictly forbidden to enslave another People since the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt. Secondly, Judissm was the original springboard of two other major religions – both Christianity and Islam you fool. Jews have given so much to the world, more than any other minority culture in the world when comparing to other larger cultures relative to our small numbers. So check your anti semetic, moronic facts before you express yourself. You are ignorant and must probably have learned your ignorant facts from another toad or an under educated Imam. You are truly an abomination

  • The iconography of these gravestones has nothing to do with pirates, but is simply typical of the time period. Similar motifs are found on gravestones of the first Puritan settlers in Boston MA, or on tombstones in graveyards across England dating from this time period.The bones symbolise the belief in resurrection.
    http://jewishbarbados.blogspot.co.uk/

    • David E. Cohen

      You should read Jewish Pirates of the Carribbean. Very good book.

  • Ya’asher Koach because of the unfortunate Iberian and Catholic inbred anti-semitism may these idolators be erased from the Sefer Chayyim

    Ya’asher Koach because of the unfortunate Iberian and Catholic inbred anti-semitism may these idolators be erased from the Sefer Chayyim today as 500 years ago

  • Linda

    Believe the history in Jews of the Caribbean is a true history, have read the book found it impressive and factual.
    Artist Claud Pisarro came from there to Paris.

  • Farm Clarity

    Cmon Yaakov , tell the truth .
    those jewish pirates were most likely slavers .
    jewery has been involved in the slave trade since its inception , wether it be talmudic or sephardim or khazarian , the slave trade has always involved jewish firms and ship owners .
    considering the history of Jamaica , the skull and cross bones on those graves is most likely a “cover” for posterity .

    • Alter

      When it comes to slave trade, jews were the least involved. It was mainly a royal Catholic enterprise – the excuse for slavery was evangelisation, and involved Latinos and Latino ship owners.

    • agness mcguinty

      hardly tried to conceal what you are , and for your information in the Talmud is the first ever prohibition on slave owning , happy Ramadan , may it last long for you

      • halal

        Sad to say, the largest and oldest slave trading across most of Africa was and still performed under the roof of Muslim permission.

        If you care to do your research slavery amongst the numerous tribes of Africa predates the Muslims.

    • Cate

      Your comment is completely insane you clearly have limited to no knowledge of history Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean existed most often fleeing from the persecution and forced conversion from the Catholic Church particularly during the Inquisition

    • DrRJP

      The commenters who claim Jews started the Slave trade are totally ignorant of history. Muhammed and hois merry band of marauding Muslims invented, refined, and spread thew African Slave trade in the 7th Century – fully 600 years before they brought it with them when they invaded Europe.

      The only reason Jews were invovled in the Slave trade in the first place was because their Muslim overlords – whose Islamic religion prohibits charging interest – dragged them along to handle all the business transactions.

      The ones who were the most ruthless and inhumane slave traders of all were the Black African Muslims.

      Jewish pirates were not pirates at all, but, as was said, were privateers hired by the British government to sink French ships. They offered pirates a choice between hanging for piracy or working for the Crown.

      Guess what they chose to do?

      The French also did the same thing: hiring known pirates to sink British ships.

      Ever hear of Jean LaFitte? How about Andrew Jackson?

      BTW, Sir Walter Raleigh was also a privateer.

      • Jean LaFitte once commented when asked why he only attacked Spanish and French ships- mainly Spanish.. “If you knew what the Spanish did to my family, you would understand”. He was thought to be Jewish- spoke 7 languages, was the most powerful person in New Orleans and was never arrested – although there were warrants out for his arrest. He ran 50 ships and 1,000 men. He wqs granted his first ships by the British ( Captain Morgan ) in Jamaica and increased his fleet by conquest. He succeeded in driving the spanish navy out of the “Spanish Main” in order to prevent the Inquisition from spreading to North America. The last auto-de-fe ( burning Jews alive for being Jews) took place in Mexico City in 1854- and the Vatican did not officially end the Inquisition until the 1950’s. LaFitte was pardoned by Congress for having helped Andrew Jackson defeat 12,000 British troops with just 3,000 pirates and militias
        at the Battle of New Orleans which ended the War of 1812.

        • Tika HaLapid

          I read somewhere that Lefitte had a co-captain, his Jewish wife!

        • Jean Laffite (1780?-1825?).‎

          ‎ Jean Laffite (Lafitte), pirate, was born in Bayonne, France, probably in 1780 or 1781, the ‎son of a French father and a Spanish mother. He was four years younger than his more ‎capable brother, Pierre ‎
          According to Harold I. Sharfman in “Jews on the Frontier: An account of Jewish Pioneers ‎‎and Settlers in Early America”, Jean Lafitte was Jewish, through his maternal ‎grandmother Zora ‎Nadrimal.‎
          The ‎Nadrimal family ‎were “Marranos,”or Secret Jews, who converted under pressure to ‎Roman Catholicism in the 14th ‎century,, but continued to practice Judaism secretly. ‎
          In 1765, Jean’s grandmother, ‎Maria Zola, fled with her mother from Spain to France to ‎escape the Spanish ‎Inquisition. Maria Zola’s husband, Abhorad (Jean’s grandfather), was ‎put to death by ‎the Inquisition for “Judaizing.” (Sharfman, Harold I., Jews on the ‎Frontier, Henry ‎Regnery Company, Chicago. 1977. pp. 132-145).‎

          The family migrated to the island of Española, then fled during the turmoil of rebellion, ‎and the brothers may have reached New Orleans by 1804. By 1808 they were involved in ‎smuggling from Barataria to New Orleans. The brothers held shares in many privateers ‎that sailed the Gulf and the Caribbean and brought their prizes to Barataria. While ‎defying Governor William C. C. Claiborne’s weak efforts to dislodge them, the Laffites ‎became involved in a far-flung plot to attack Texas and Tampico; but the approach of a ‎British fleet to attack New Orleans finally enabled Claiborne to break up Barataria in ‎September 1814, and the plot against Mexico and Texas was suspended for a while. ‎During the War of 1812, in September 1814, the British, attempting to gain a foothold in ‎the lower Mississippi valley by seizing New Orleans, asked Laffite for help. Laffite, ‎however, hoping to gain a pardon for his illegal activities and the restoration of his ‎confiscated goods, opted instead to fight on the side of the United States. He supplied ‎men, weapons, and his knowledge of the region, and during the battle of New Orleans on ‎January 8, 1815, his followers helped the forces led by Andrew Jackson to secure an ‎overwhelming victory. ‎
          After the battle, Laffite and his brother attempted to regain the property they had lost at ‎Barataria. Jean Laffite went to Washington and Philadelphia in the winter of 1815-16 to ‎lay their case before President James Madison, but in March 1816 he returned to New ‎Orleans without success. His brother in the meantime had pledged their services to the ‎Spanish government. Jean Laffite’s first assignment was to accompany Arsène Lacarrière ‎Latour on a mapping expedition west of Arkansas Post. He returned from this trip in ‎November 1816. During his absence the New Orleans plotters had broadened their plan ‎to open a port on the Texas coast that would serve as a haven for privateers and as a base ‎for an attack against Texas. ‎
          Louis Michel Aury, who was to play a leading role in this revised scheme, had escaped ‎from Venezuela to Haiti, where the New Orleans plotters communicated with him early ‎in 1816. Aury had established himself at Galveston in July 1816, and early in September ‎the Mexican rebel envoy José Manuel de Herrera arrived to constitute Galveston as a ‎puerto habilitado of the Mexican republic. Pierre Laffite, Antonio de Sedella, and Juan ‎Mariano Picornell worked out a plan for the capture of Aury’s establishment, in the midst ‎of which Francisco Xavier Mina’sqv expedition arrived at Galveston. While the plan was ‎maturing, Jean Laffite, as an agent in the Spanish secret service, went to Galveston. He ‎arrived a few days before Mina, convoyed by Aury, left for Mexico. Laffite then ‎organized a government for Galveston on April 8, and a week later the officers swore ‎allegiance to Mexico. Laffite left Galveston on April 18 to report to Sedella, and on May ‎‎8 conferred with Felipe Fatio, who had been sent from Cuba to direct the plot to capture ‎Aury and his privateers. While Laffite was in New Orleans, Aury returned to Galveston ‎on May 3, 1817; but on May 18 he sailed to Matagorda, and on June 3, Pierre Laffite left ‎New Orleans for Galveston. Aury returned from Matagorda during the month, but Pierre ‎Laffite succeeded in causing so many of his men to desert that Aury left on July 21. At ‎his brother’s request, Jean Laffite prepared to take over at Galveston, having spent several ‎thousand dollars, which he expected Fatio to repay, for vessels and supplies. ‎
          Laffite remained the master of Galveston after his return in September 1817, and made it ‎a center for smuggling and privateering. When the expedition of Charles Françoise ‎Antoine Lallemand arrived in January 1818, the Laffites plotted to betray the French ‎refugees to Spain. This plot failed, and Galveston went on with its illicit activities. ‎Lallemand’s men, having fled from the Champ d’Asile, were at Galveston when George ‎Graham arrived in August 1818 to investigate affairs in Texas. Graham suggested that ‎Jean Laffite should take possession successively of points on the coast as far as the Rio ‎Grande and surrender them to the United States after faked attacks. Nothing came of this ‎scheme, which apparently was Graham’s own idea, although James Monroe may have ‎suggested it. Jean cooperated halfheartedly with James Long during the latter’s invasion ‎of Texas, but his principal interest lay in the privateering business, while his brother ‎managed the intrigues with Spanish officials and took care of the New Orleans business ‎arrangements. Finally, with nothing to hope for from Spain and confronted with the ‎American government’s determination to end the Galveston establishment, the Laffites ‎decided the game was up. Laffite abandoned Galveston early in May 1820 and sailed to ‎Mugeres Island, off the coast of Yucatán. There he continued his illegal activities until ‎around 1825, when, mortally ill, he went to the mainland to die. Although his brother was ‎the leader in all their affairs, Jean Laffite, more colorful than his older brother, has ‎become the center of many romantic tales. ‎
          Recent scholars recognize Lafitte as a ‎corsair or buccaneer who operated with Letters of ‎Marquee to legitimize his commerce ‎raiding. As such, technically, Jean Lafitte was not a ‎pirate in the true sense of the word.‎
          The mystery surrounding Lafitte has only inflated the legends attached to his name. ‎Lafitte was said to be a master mariner; according to one legend he was once caught in a ‎tropical storm off the coast of North Galveston and steered his ship to safety by riding the ‎storm surge over Galveston island and into the harbor. Lafitte’s lost treasure has acquired ‎a lore of its own as it, like his death, was never accounted for. He reportedly maintained ‎several stashes of plundered gold and jewelry in the vast system of marshes, swamps, and ‎bayous located around Barrataria Bay. One such legend places the treasure somewhere on ‎the property of Destrehan Plantation, and Lafitte’s spirit walks the plantation on nights of ‎full moons to guide someone to the treasure’s location. Other rumors suggest that Lafitte’s ‎treasure sank with his ship, the Pride, either near Galveston or in the Gulf of Mexico ‎where some believe it went down during an 1826 hurricane.‎
          His legend was perpetuated in Cecil B. DeMille’s classic film The Buccaneer and its 1958 ‎remake, and even by a poem of Byron:‎

          He left a corsair’s name to other times, ‎
          Linked with one virtue, and a thousand crimes

          BIBLIOGRAPHY: Stanley Clisby Arthur, Jean Lafitte, Gentleman Rover (New Orleans: ‎Harmanson, 1952). William Bollaert, “Life of Jean Lafitte, the Pirate of the Mexican ‎Gulf,” Littell’s Living Age, March 6, 1852. James Joseph Alcee Fortier, ed., The Story of ‎Jean and Pierre Lafitte, the Pirate-Patriots (New Orleans: Louisiana State Museum/Press ‎of T. J. Moran’s Sons, 1938). Charles Ramsdell, Jr., “Why Jean Lafitte Became a Pirate,” ‎Southwestern Historical Quarterly 43 (April 1940). Lyle Saxon, Laffite the Pirate (New ‎Orleans: Crager, 1930). Ray M. Thompson, The Land of Laffite the Pirate (New Orleans: ‎Bormon House, 1948). Harris Gaylord Warren, The Sword Was Their Passport: A ‎History of American Filibustering in the Mexican Revolution (Baton Rouge: Louisiana ‎State University Press, 1943). ‎
          Harris Gaylord Warren ‎

    • Simone Morath

      You obviously know nothing of history… Learn about it!
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_slave_trade

      • Shane

        Over half the Jews in Christian and Muslim cointries were not allowed to own property let alone slaves.

        In Tunisia the law held from the time of the Islamic colonization onwards, that Jews were required to clean the public toilets for Muslims. That was their place in society.

        Anyone care for sources?

  • Keith Feldman

    They were not thieving pirates. They were authorized by both the royals of England and Holland to raid Spanish Ships carrying bullion. This was after Jews had been expelled from Spain and all their assets confiscated. Their substantial loans to the Spanish royals were never repaid. Jews were burn’t at the stake during the inquisition and every time they started up int the new world the Spanish chased them down and confiscated there property, wealth, plantations and mines. Spain was at war with the Jews.

  • ED SKI

    jewish slave ships brought slaves from africa to the new world. pirates and slavers are the same breed, so it should be no surprise that there were jewish pirates in the carribean. jews were run out of spain unless they converted- not surprising that they preyed upon spanish ships- the country that rejected them and seized their property.

    • Shane

      Except that all Christian and Muslim law systems have a specific prohibition against Jews owning slaves. From the 350AD onwards.

  • splaut
  • Akiva

    Not true Yaakov.
    In Judaism, a person is considered a Jew if their mother was Jewish, whether they have abandoned the religion or not. As the Talmud says, “a Jew who sins, remains a Jew”. When you say “those who use an ethnic definition”, you are referring to Judaism itself.

  • Zel Wallerstein

    Yaakov, maybe they rejected Judaica and maybe they embraced it in a Marxist fashion of wealth redistribution. Or maybe they were lashing out at the racist regimes of Europe who loved to keep a good Jew down and never hesitated to sic their Catholic attack dog on the chosen. Or maybe they were just anti-Goy and they followed that interpretation. Or maybe they just wanted to get rich and whore it up in the Caribbean. We will never know. You are offended over nothing. This is just history. There were pirates of all colors and creeds.

  • tan

    Yaakov, you are wrong. Lucky we are that the determination of who is and who is not Jewish, amongst all of us who consider ourselves Jewish, is not left to you and those who think like you…….I doubt if any of us would pass muster….oh my gosh, Aaron eats bacon occasionally, married Maurice is shtupping his wife’s best friend, Gordon’s special other is ex Israeli army Avi…….handle it Yaakov, they remain Jews….and as for your own perfect blame free life……

  • Mike P

    It was just, albeit inadequate, revenge on the Spaniards for the Inquisition.

  • Actually just the word Jewish is suffice, we all know what that means.

  • My brother, Edward Kritzler, author of Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean, led a tour of the Hunt’s Bay Cemetery in 2010. The theme of his book was that the Jews who fought as pirates or privateers did so to revenge their treatment by the Spanish. He unfortunately passed away nine months after the cemetery tour. The book is still available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

    • Gary Lesser

      Mary Ann, I had the pleasure of staying with your brother Ed at his wonderful place in ‘the jungle’ whilst visiting Jamaica with a kosher girlfriend at the time! I was traveling teh island with my very old school mate, Aron Wohl who knew Ed really well, and still lives in Kingston. At lunch Ed pulled out some New York kosher sausages for her! Unreal! We were watching the cricket on a crackly old black & white TV! We then for a swim in the little ponds! What a beautiful place!
      He was telling us of his theories of Columbus possibly being Jewish and escaping the Inquisition and also the prospect of Columbus’s Spanish Gold lost off the Jamaican coast, yet to be discovered!
      I wish you and your family a long and healthy life!
      Gary Lesser, Manchester UK.

  • Michael Garrison

    By the way, the Pirates used the very same coded treasure signs and symbols as the Freemasons, the Church, and all other secret societies. I wouldn’t doubt it if the tombstone pictured above isn’t another one of their treasure maps to a treasure. This was very common……Belle Star’s tombstone leads to a treasure, and the Church has buried treasure in cemeteries for hundreds of years.

  • Michael Garrison

    GREAT article!!! Skull and Bones, Freemasons, Illuminati….they ALL have their roots in Israel, which is to say…they all have their roots in Satanism.

    (I speak NOT of the True Jews, just the off-spring from hell)

    • Michael Garrison is just another schmuck who thinks he has the power to define who is and who is not a Jew. This example of Jew hate usually comes from Muslim with Arab roots. “True Jews”… lol. Listen, Michael – this one has been around for a long time. I suggest you move on down the list to the next ridiculous Jew hating claim – this one is over done and boring. Where’s your imagination??!!!

  • Susan Steinhilber

    Really interesting thanks, hope to visit and see the Heritage Centre one day

  • Shmuel Benshir

    The Jewish pirates were Sephardic Jews who had suffered under the Spanish Inquisition. They finally had a way of punishing the Spanish and preyed exclusively on Spanish ships in particular the “Black ships”. Government ships that transported gold and silver extracted by Indian slaves of Spain.

  • Seth Lefkow

    Rob, Rape, Loot, Kill —–but not on Saturday. (LOL)

  • Michael W

    If you found this interesting read Edward Kritzler’s
    “Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean”

    • My friend, Mary Ann Kritzler Freedman has presented a few times on her brother’s book. Ed Kritzler (R.I.P.) did a magnificent research job and created an exciting book.I recommend the book, highly.

  • Yaakov

    “Jewish thieving pirates” is an oxymoron. Such individuals were not Jews; they were people who abandoned and rejected Judaism. This is the kind of disrepute brought to Jews by those who use an ethnic definition.

    • attycats

      Nonsense. No disrepute is called for. The pirates were mainly ex-conversos who were getting revenge on the Spanish for by attacking Spanish vessels. As a Sephardi, I say “Good for them”!

      • Tika HaLapid

        Me too! Good for them. Making up for the a*hole pirates
        that thought nothing of of boarding ships of Jews and running their
        through people’s intestines looking for jewels and setting their
        ships adrift. We Sephardim are fighters!

        • Tika HaLapid

          * correction,
          running their swords through

    • Shmuel Galor

      They were ethnic Hebrew, our ancestors. I don’t give a f**k about their religiousness.
      Read:
      http://www.hebrewidentity.org/en/?page_id=35

    • Joe

      So were the approximately 109 expulsions of jews from 89 countries all non-jews too?

    • Boaz Heilman

      Actually, according to Kritzler’s book, at least one of them was a rabbi. In those days, they weren’t known as pirates, at least not in our modern sense of the word. They were hired buccaneers, hired to protect shipping lines from other countries’ and companies’ raids. Some of them protected the East India companies run by the Netherlands and Great Britain, and they basically fought against the Spanish–some relishing the experience as a sort of moment of revenge.

    • Alan Black

      Actually many Jews and non-Jews were “privateers” sanctioned by governments to raid enemy ships. Some of the Sephardic Jews who managed to leave Spain had lost family and fortune there during the Inquisition and were eager to get back at the Spanish. I see no shame in that, the disrepute was on the terrible deeds of the Spanish.

    • marc

      Disreput yes but they were still Jewish

    • Menachem Mendel

      Get a life!

    • David

      Some of the Jewish pirates specialized in attacking Spanish-flagged ships, revenge for the expulsion of their ancestors.

    • Shalom
    • Jews must be the only religion that demands to have everything its own way. If someone is born of a Jewish Mother then Yaacov, he will die a Jew whether he is a murderer, a slaver or the usual thief of some kind. Jews do not stop to repudiate their religion before sinning – they never have and they never will.

    • Jeff

      No true Scotsman?

    • Nochum

      Get over your self and stop with the apologetics. A Jew will always be a Jew. Even the Torah, which I assume you follow, says so. They may not have been practicing Orthodoxy, but that doesn’t diminish their halachic status as a Jew. This is not an ethnic definition as you stated, it is the definition described by the very foundation of Judaism. If you disagree, then perhaps you fit your own description.

    • Not true. Read the Kriztler book mentioned in the above comment. Some were quite pious; one was a rabbi! They viewed their activities as a way of undermining the Spanish Inquisition, which had expelled them and their families.

    • You were not there to judge if they abandoned Judaism or not. Many were fueled of revenge of catholics that stolen and expelled Jews from Portugal and Spain

    • MArc F

      That’s like saying ISIS is not Muslim…..silly

    • eugene lukjanenko

      why not Jewish pirates? i am Jewish myself btw

    • Mary lamb

      I agree with your statement, but if they were born Jewish, they are Jewish, but shouldn’t be differentiated from other pirates because of that.

    • You are wrong. A jew is a jew no matyer how far he strays. Not to mention,jewdaism is a race not a religion. You are jewish no matter if you practice it or not.

      • Tika HaLapid

        Jews are NOT a race. WTF are you saying?
        We come in all colors, and are represented in all the
        races. We are Caucasian, Asian, Indian (both kinds)
        and Black. I suggest the book, “What do Jews Look Like”?
        What unites us is our shared faith. Judaism IS a religion.
        Take a good look at the IDF, the new face of Israel.

    • jewish pirates were hired out by the english to attack spainish ships , it was a perfect partnership . the jews hated Spain because of the Inquisition …
      what goes around comes around .

      • Harley

        It is my understanding that if a person died from a communicable disease, irrespective of their religion, a ‘skull & cross-bones’ was imprinted on the gravestone.

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