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

April 13 2020

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.

Read more at Jewish Review of Books

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

Strengthening the Abraham Accords at Sea

In an age of jet planes, high-speed trains, electric cars, and instant communication, it’s easy to forget that maritime trade is, according to Yuval Eylon, more important than ever. As a result, maritime security is also more important than ever. Eylon examines the threats, and opportunities, these realities present to Israel:

Freedom of navigation in the Middle East is challenged by Iran and its proxies, which operate in the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea, and the Persian Gulf, and recently in the Mediterranean Sea as well. . . . A bill submitted to the U.S. Congress calls for the formulation of a naval strategy that includes an alliance to combat naval terrorism in the Middle East. This proposal suggests the formation of a regional alliance in the Middle East in which the member states will support the realization of U.S. interests—even while the United States focuses its attention on other regions of the world, mainly the Far East.

Israel could play a significant role in the execution of this strategy. The Abraham Accords, along with the transition of U.S.-Israeli military cooperation from the European Command (EUCOM) to Central Command (CENTCOM), position Israel to be a key player in the establishment of a naval alliance, led by the U.S. Fifth Fleet, headquartered in Bahrain.

Collaborative maritime diplomacy and coalition building will convey a message of unity among the members of the alliance, while strengthening state commitments. The advantage of naval operations is that they enable collaboration without actually threatening the territory of any sovereign state, but rather using international waters, enhancing trust among all members.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Abraham Accords, Iran, Israeli Security, Naval strategy, U.S. Foreign policy