History doesn’t belong to any one person or group. There’s no single narrative to it. Everyone alive contributes their own kaleidoscope view to history, and each time we get a chance to glimpse another one of them, we get a truer picture of what history really is.
Divided by a Common Faith
If there’s one thing that separates humans from the other animals, I’d say it’s our immense talent for creating divisions among ourselves. Of creating an “us” vs. a “them.” Of tribalism.
Jews, I’m sorry to say, are no different.
Of rabbis and rivals, pt. 3: Isaac Aboab da Fonesca
Rabbi Aboab da Fonesca was always in the wrong place at the wrong time. Until it was time to build a lasting monument to the community he served.
Abominable heresies and monstrous deeds
July 27, 2019. On this day, 363 years ago, Baruch Spinoza was kicked out of the Portuguese Sephardic community in Amsterdam. We know the words that were uttered as he was drummed out of the insular society, but there is so much more that we don’t know about that event.
Of rabbis and rivals, pt. 2: Saul Levi Morteira
When I imagine how Rabbi Saul Levi Morteira, the first intellectual powerhouse in Amsterdam’s Portuguese Sephardic community, must have felt about himself and his job, I imagine he compared himself to Moses.
Juda – a (mostly) kosher vampire story
Simply the fact that the world has yet to hear of an Israeli vampire would make Juda a fresh and different take on one of my favorite genres. But the series takes it a step further by shunning many of the tropes that plague vampire fiction (even though I love some of them).
Of rabbis and rivals, part 1
The new Portuguese community quickly worked to set up Jewish institutions in their new home.. But these also required rabbis — men of advanced religious training — in order for the community to truly function.
The down and dirty on diamonds, part 3
To this day, Amsterdam remains an important city in the global diamond industry, even though its status has been greatly diminished from what it once was.
Amsterdam’s top tourist destination in the 17th Century
Tourists from England, Germany and France were amazed to see Jews in Amsterdam living their lives freely and openly. These tourists wrote about what they saw, giving us a unique perspective on how the Portuguese Sephardic community of the 17th Century was perceived by its neighbors.
Evidence from the Jewish cemetery of Oudekerk and in the local Sephardic records show people of African descent were part of the Portuguese Jewish community. Some were slaves, others as servants and some were free. All were Jews. But none were given the dignity they deserved.