Alexander Hamilton’s (Somewhat) Jewish Roots

Feb. 23 2015

Despite speculation to the contrary, there is no solid evidence that Alexander Hamilton was of Jewish ancestry on his mother’s side. But his stepfather seems to have been a Jew, and throughout his life her son maintained a deeply felt respect for Jews, as Gabriela Geselowitz writes:

Around the time of Hamilton’s birth in Nevis in the West Indies, the Caribbean had a sizable Sephardic community. Charlestown, the capital of Nevis, had a particularly large Jewish population. [It] is certain that Hamilton was a Jewish day-school boy. His mother never divorced her first husband (a probably Jewish man with the surname Lavien), so the Anglican Church saw Hamilton as illegitimate, banning him from its local school. Instead, he studied at a Jewish school (possibly being solo tutored by the headmistress) run out of a synagogue in Charlestown. It was there that he learned Hebrew, and he reportedly recalled to his son years later learning to recite the Ten Commandments [in that language].

“Progress of the Jews,” Hamilton once wrote, “from their earliest history to the present time has been and is entirely out of the ordinary course of human affairs. Is it not then a fair conclusion that the cause also is an extraordinary one—in other words, that it is the effect of some great providential plan?’” And in a court case, he argued, “Why distrust the evidence of the Jews? Discredit them, and you destroy the Christian religion.”

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Alexander Hamilton, American Jewish History, History & Ideas, Philo-Semitism, Sephardim, West Indies

Condemning Terrorism in Jerusalem—and Efforts to Stop It

Jan. 30 2023

On Friday night, a Palestinian opened fire at a group of Israelis standing outside a Jerusalem synagogue, killing seven and wounding several others. The day before, the IDF had been drawn into a gunfight in the West Bank city of Jenin while trying to arrest members of a terrorist cell. Of the nine Palestinians killed in the raid, only one appears to have been a noncombatant. Lahav Harkov compares the responses to the two events, beginning with the more recent:

President Joe Biden called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to denounce the attack, offer his condolences, and express his commitment to Israel’s security. Other leaders released supportive statements as well. Governments across Europe condemned the attack. Turkey’s foreign ministry did the same, as did Israel’s Abraham Accords partners the UAE and Bahrain. Even Saudi Arabia released a statement against the killing of civilians in Jerusalem.

It feels wrong to criticize those statements. . . . But the condemnations should be full-throated, not spoken out of one side of the mouth while the other is wishy-washy about what it takes to stave off terrorism. These very same leaders and ministries were tsk-tsking at Israel for doing just that only a day before the attacks in Jerusalem.

The context didn’t seem to matter to some countries that are friendly to Israel. It didn’t matter that Israel was trying to stop jihadists from attacking civilians; it didn’t matter that IDF soldiers were attacked on the way.

It’s very easy for some to be sad when Jews are murdered. Yet, at the same time, so many of them are uncomfortable with Jews asserting themselves, protecting themselves, arming themselves against the bloodthirsty horde that would hand out bonbons to celebrate their deaths. It’s a reminder of how important it is that we do just that, and how essential the state of Israel is.

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Read more at Lahav’s Newsletter

More about: Jerusalem, Palestinian terror