With its alluring cover, Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean promises a rollicking tale about lovable rogues who cherished the faith while collecting booty. It delivers that and more.
Driven to find new homes, Iberian Jews financed and accompanied the explorers, settling all over South America and the islands. As Christian converts they formed secretly allied Jewish communities.
In the Mediterranean they established large ghettoes in major ports. Since moneychanging was forbidden to Catholics and Moslems, Jews minted coins, collected taxes, made loans, and financed ventures.
Those who are chiefly familiar with Ashkenazi history will be painfully surprised to read of the Jewish experience in South America, with the pressure of the Inquisition and constant rejection by older settlers.
Kritzler concludes with this editorial comment: “Welcome us and we will make you rich.” Suffused by the aura of the conquistadors, this book suggests class projects or gifts; libraries should also note that it has scholarly weight.