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.

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Read more at Jewish Review of Books

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

Will Costco Go to Israel?

Social-media users have mocked this week new Israeli finance minister Bezalel Smotrich for a poorly translated letter. But far more interesting than the finance minister’s use of Google Translate (or some such technology) is what the letter reveals about the Jewish state. In it, Smotrich asks none other than Costco to consider opening stores in Israel.

Why?

Israel, reports Sharon Wrobel, has one of the highest costs of living of any country in the 38-member Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

This

has been generally attributed to a lack of competition among local importers and manufacturers. The top three local supermarket chains account for over half of the food retail market, limiting competition and putting upward pressure on prices. Meanwhile, import tariffs, value-added tax costs and kosher restrictions have been keeping out international retail chains.

Is the move likely to happen?

“We do see a recent trend of international retailers entering the Israeli market as some barriers to food imports from abroad have been eased,” Chen Herzog, chief economist at BDO Israel accounting firm, told The Times of Israel. “The purchasing power and technology used by big global retailers for logistics and in the area of online sales where Israel has been lagging behind could lead to a potential shift in the market and more competitive prices.”

Still, the same economist noted that in Israel “the cost of real estate and other costs such as the VAT on fruit and vegetables means that big retailers such as Costco may not be able to offer the same competitive prices than in other places.”

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Costco, Israel & Zionism