Daybook · On History · On Places & Travel

The Jewish Pirate of Barbados?

I’m waiting in the airport in Barbados to fly home, but I thought this was pretty funny.

I spent some time yesterday at the Nidhe Israel Museum, Synagogue, cemetery and archaeological site in Bridgetown, for an upcoming story. Michael Stoner, the archaeologist on the site, told me that ever since Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean by Edward Kritzler has come out, he’s frequently asked for the location of the Jewish pirate’s graves.

Well, there aren’t any  pirates buried there, apparently, although some people get excited when they see a skull and cross bones on a few of the tomb stones. (Most of which are from the 17th century.) It’s true that you wouldn’t typically see something like the Jolly Roger in a Jewish cemetery, but nor would you see cherubs, roses and other typically Christian iconography. And before a skull and crossbones meant ‘pirate’ it meant ‘death’.

So why all of goy iconography? It could have been a sign of adoption of Creole ways  by Jewish population in Barbados during the 17th century, or, it could have been that there weren’t so many stone carvers on the island, and, basically, that was what was available off the shelf.

Much more to come on Caribbean history, Creole Jews and pirates!


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