A New Book Reveals Some Forgotten, but Remarkable, American Jewish Women

Using artifacts—a kiddush cup, a portrait, broken teacups—together with the written record, Laura Leibman reconstructs the biographies of a few fascinating figures in American Jewish history in her recent book, The Art of the Jewish Family: A History of Women in Early New York in Five Objects. Among the titular objects is a miniature ivory portrait of Sarah Brandon Moses, which has been preserved alongside one of her brother, Isaac Lopez Brandon. Jenna Weissman Joselit writes in her review:

Within [the miniature’s] circumscribed space and under glass, Sarah looks for all the world as if she stepped out of the pages of a Jane Austen novel—her skin and neoclassical dress pearly white, her hair neatly arrayed in tendrils that accentuate her liquid brown eyes, her gaze clear and steady.

[Despite appearances], gentility didn’t come naturally to Sarah. Like her mother before her, she had been born a slave into the Lopez family of Barbados. Her father, Abraham Rodrigues Brandon, one of the wealthiest men on the island, granted Sarah her freedom when she was three years old, setting her on a course that took her first to Paramaribo, [the capital of Suriname], where she converted to Judaism, and then on to London, where she trained at a “Ladies School” for Jewish girls.

There, Sarah met Joshua Moses, an American Jew in town on business who, in a curious twist of fate, happened to be the middle son of Reyna Levy Moses, [another of the book’s other subjects] Sarah married him . . . and relocated to New York City where she lived, happily ever after—a member in full of New York’s Jewish society—until her untimely death in 1828, shortly after the birth of her ninth child.

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Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: American Jewish History, Barbados, Caribbean Jewry, Jewish art, Suriname

 

The New Iran Deal Will Reward Terrorism, Help Russia, and Get Nothing in Return

After many months of negotiations, Washington and Tehran—thanks to Russian mediation—appear close to renewing the 2015 agreement concerning the Iranian nuclear program. Richard Goldberg comments:

Under a new deal, Iran would receive $275 billion of sanctions relief in the first year and $1 trillion by 2030. [Moreover], Tehran would face no changes in the old deal’s sunset clauses—that is, expiration dates on key restrictions—and would be allowed to keep its newly deployed arsenal of advanced uranium centrifuges in storage, guaranteeing the regime the ability to cross the nuclear threshold at any time of its choosing. . . . And worst of all, Iran would win all these concessions while actively plotting to assassinate former U.S. officials like John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and [his] adviser Brian Hook, and trying to kidnap and kill the Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad on U.S. soil.

Moscow, meanwhile, would receive billions of dollars to construct additional nuclear power plants in Iran, and potentially more for storage of nuclear material. . . . Following a visit by the Russian president Vladimir Putin to Tehran last month, Iran reportedly started transferring armed drones for Russian use against Ukraine. On Tuesday, Putin launched an Iranian satellite into orbit reportedly on the condition that Moscow can task it to support Russian operations in Ukraine.

With American and European sanctions on Russia escalating, particularly with respect to Russian energy sales, Putin may finally see net value in the U.S. lifting of sanctions on Iran’s financial and commercial sectors. While the return of Iranian crude to the global market could lead to a modest reduction in oil prices, thereby reducing Putin’s revenue, Russia may be able to head off U.S. secondary sanctions by routing key transactions through Tehran. After all, what would the Biden administration do if Iran allowed Russia to use its major banks and companies to bypass Western sanctions?

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Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Russia, U.S. Foreign policy