Monday, 12 November 2012

Jew Street in Speightstown, Barbados

Speight’s Town lies about 3 Miles and an half from the Hole, and was at first called Little Bristol. It is the most considerable Place in the Island next to the Bridge. It consists of one long Street, called Jew-Street; and three others, that lead down to the Water Side; the whole making above 300 Houses.

Mr. Oldmixon (John). The History of Barbados, Page 101. In: The British Empire in America: Containing the History of the Discovery...

Of the Opinion of Antonius Montezini

One Aaron Levi, alias Antonius Montezini, in a Treatise written Anno 5404, and dedicated to Manasseh Ben Israel, pretends to inform the World that in the West-Indies he has found out the most prodigious number of Jews, who being governed there by their own Laws to this Day, were separated from the other Indians by a great River. But bestides that this Imposter sufficiently contradicts himself in his Relations, making his Fellow Traveller sometimes a Christian, sometimes a Pagan, sometimes a Jew: Our late Voyages into those Parts have sufficiently detected the Imposture. Thus much is beyond all Question, that in the Time of Josephus, the Israelites did not inhabit America, but near the River Euphrates.

Aegidius Strauch. Breviarium chronologicum: or, A treatise describing the terms and most celebrated characters, periods, and epocha’s used in chronology. 1722.

The Jew Fish

I wonder what fish this was:

"The Jew-fish is a very good Fish, and I judge so called by the English, because it hath Scales and Fins, and therefore a clean Fish, according to the Levitical Law, and the Jews at Jamaica buy them, and eat them very freely.  It is a very large Fish, shaped much like a Cod, but a great deal bigger; one will weigh three, or four, or five Hundred Weight. It hath a large Head, with great Fins and Scales, as big as an Half-Crown, answerable to the bigness of his Body, It is very sweet Meat, and commonly fat. This Fish lives among the Rocks; there are plenty of them in the West-Indies, about Jamaica, and the Coast of Caraccos; but chiefly in these Seas, especially more Westward."

William Dampier. A Collection Of Voyages: In Four Volumes. 1729

Saturday, 10 November 2012

The Isidros - History of a Portuguese New Christian family

A new Sephardi history has been published (in Portuguese). 

Os Isidros – A Epopeia de uma Família de Cristãos-novos de Torre de Moncorvo [The Isidros - The Epic of a New Christian family from Torre de Moncorvo] by António Júlio Andrade and Maria Fernanda Guimarães tells the story of the Isidros, a New Christian family from the town of Torre de Moncorvo, from 1536 to 1773.

The authors also write the excellent Os Judeus em Trás os Montes blog.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Sephardic Genealogy website

I am creating a Sephardic genealogy website on Google to better organise and share what I know. It is a work in progress and currently full of gaps.

Hope to work on it over the New Year break.

Friday, 2 November 2012

A report on the life of Uriel Acosta

A report on the life of Uriel Acosta:

"ACOSTA (Ariel) a Portugueza gentleman, in the sixteenth century: he was bred up in the romish religion, but afterwards embraced the Jewish, and was circumcised at Amsterdam. He soon perceived that the morals and rites of the Jews were not comfortable to the laws of Moses; upon which occasion it was impossible for him to be silent: upon this, he was excommunicated. He writ a book of his own vindication, wherein he shews, that the rites and traditions of the Pharisees clash directly with the writings of Moses. He had scarce begun this work, when he embraced the principles of the Sadducees. Acosta did not stop there; he imagined he had found solid reason to convince himself, that the law of Moses was merely of human invention. He returned again to the Jewish church, and retracted all he had written. Some time after, he was impeach’d by a nephew, of not observing the Jewish laws, either with respect to eating or other points; and for this was terribly persecuted. After failing in an attempt to kill his chief enemy, he shot himself."

Miller, Historical, genealogical, and classical dictionary. 1743

I think it is interesting that a Protestant, Bible-reading, commentator puts emphasis on circumcision as a meaningful equivalent of baptism, whereas the Inquisition would focus on some vague cultural practice, such as what day someone is alleged to clean their house.

Also, an encyclopaedia such as Miller's COULD NOT have been published in Spain. The Inquisition would have immediately arrested the publisher - who is simply sharing information and opinions - for heretical propositions. 

We can speculate about the differences between the mentalities of a Catholic and Protestant gentleman of the period. The former is supposed to conform to dogma and, even if he wanted, would have a problem finding books containing any alternative views. The latter is presented with the information and able to form his own opinions. 

Of course, France is always the exception to the rule, being a Catholic country but encouraging Enlightenment values (which, of course, ended in an anti-clerical Revolution). It seems obvious (to me!!) that the Enlightenment countries would pull ahead commercially and scientifically, while the Inquisition countries would fall behind.

The Ancient Melodies of the liturgy of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews

Link to an 1857 book with Emanuel Abraham Aguilar's melodies for the de Sola prayerbook of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews Congregation of London.