This year we mark the 350th anniversary of the first Jewish

These are PDF files and require Acrobat Reader to view or print. Check your start menu under programs to see if you already have it. If you do not already have it, you can download Acrobat Reader for free here . If you have Acrobat Reader and click on a link above and nothing loads, then simply right-click on the links above and select the download link to disk choice from the pop up menu (or whatever choice indicates that you can copy, save or download this link/file to your disk). This will grab a copy of the PDF file and place it on your disk. From there, simply open Acrobat Reader, and select open under the file menu to locate the PDF file.
Happy 2004! Happy Anniversary! This year we mark the 350th anniversary of the first Jewish
community in the United States. Celebrate this special milestone with a year-long reading fest. I will
share books to guide your romp through our history as Jewish Americans, starting from the top.
Colonial History Through Mystery
By Ellen G. Cole, Librarian, Levine Library, Temple Isaiah, Los Angeles, CA
What was it like to be a Jew in New Amsterdam? New York? New Orange? New York? (aha! you
thought it only changed hands once!) Four novels by Maan Meyers, pen name of husband and wife
team Martin and Annette Meyers, introduce you to the Jews, Dutch and English of colonial New
York. Their mysteries burst with a sense of place, time, people. All are equal in historical tidbits
based on sound research in solid libraries. Jewish issues are varied and valid. Judaic custom is
stretched only twice in four volumes, literary license to advance plot. The novels are similar in their
clear narration, evocative description, energetic dialogue by characters fictional and real, and
chronological organization of dirty deed and detection. The books sport maps or family trees,
reassuring you where you are, with whom, and when.
The first in the series, The Dutchman, has the best plot and pace. Authors smoothly include the
1654 arrival of the Jews to background the mystery set in 1664, a year that held excitement of its
own: arrival of the British, sailing to grab the Dutch colony. Three historical characters signed
primary documents still in existence in Holland’s archives. The first fictional character is dead:
victim of murder or suicide? An additional body in a Jewish backyard brings Pieter Tonneman, the
Dutch schout (sheriff) into contact with the exotic Jewess, Racqel, whose status of widow or aguna
remains undetermined. The plot twists on current politics and Jewish practices, especially levirate
marriages. You track clues with the schout, share a budding romance and enjoy yourself from nasty
start to lovely end.
Sequel The Dutchman’s Dilemma, is set in 1675 in Britain’s new colony of New York. The novel
opens dynamically with a gory incident which jumps starts wild detection. Though good, the details
of this mystery are less sharp than the first, but, note! a quirky clue to those hot on the trail includes
Deuteronomy’s commandment on the red heifer, slightly embellished for plot device. How can you
not love a fiction that skillfully includes esoteric halakha? This clue, recognized as one only by
Racqel, validates her sleuthing ability and sets up Racqel and Pieter as a 17th century Lazarus-Decker
team. This is a fun read and a fair mystery solved by warm and appealing characters.
The last two novels flaunt interesting history, but suffer messy plots. The characters are not as
captivating. Colonial New York Jewish life remains engaging. The Kingsbridge Plot includes a 1776
historical attempt against George Washington in an increasingly Loyalist town. Set against
Revolutionary politics are B horror-flick serial murders solved by John Tonneman, an unsympathetic
young descendant of Racqel and Pieter. The High Constable captures the crazy mix of cultures in
1808 New York chafing under the Jefferson Embargo Act. The history is less well known than that
in its prequel; the murder plot is more vicious. Detective John is no more appealing as an old man
than as a self-assured youth. Historically, the first high constable in New York was the Jew Jacob
Hayes, credited with inventing the art of criminal investigation which figures charmingly here.
Additionally, the authors snatch the chance to introduce Italian lessons from historical figure and
Jewish immigrant Lorenzo da Ponte, Mozart’s librettist.
Try one, try all. They are in the Library next to a lot of wonderful books to help you Celebrate 350!

Happy Anniversary! This year we mark the 350th anniversary of the first Jewish community in the
United States. Celebrate this special milestone with a year-long reading fest. I will share books to guide
your romp through our history as Jewish Americans, starting from the top. Last month we began in 17th
century New Amsterdam. We continue in the 18th century English colonies headed for Revolution.
All That Glitters is NOT Gold
By Ellen G. Cole, Librarian, Levine Library, Temple Isaiah, Los Angeles, CA
Move over Paul Revere. I am ready to ride and spread the news about Myer Myers, Jewish
Silversmith in Colonial New York by David Barquist. This museum catalog preserves the dynamo
contents of past Skirball and Yale exhibitions as it captures colonial New York, its Jewish life,
silversmithing as art and commerce, and the biography of the talented man and dedicated Jew whose
life integrates all of the above. A paean to the power of a free society, scholarly (art, economics,
history), and gossipy (patrons, kin), it is an educating mindful and a glorious eyeful.
Myers was the Amost significant silversmith of his generation in New York@ who created some of
the Amost extraordinary@ silver objects in Colonial America. This book showcases the man in the
context of his world. Introductory essays by professors Jon Butler (Yale) and Jonathan Sarna
(Brandeis) background Barquist=s thorough exposition of Myers= life and superb detection of the
silver works. These objects speak for themselves and their creator because scant record of Myers
secular career survives. His life=s paper trail is found in synagogue documents.
Butler=s pithy lesson on New York captures the city=s tolerance and economic energy, crucial
factors that make a Myers possible. Sarna plays the Jews on Butler=s stage, detailing how they
relished and manipulated the broader freedoms possible in the colonies, but not in England itself.
These essays develop themes about Jews in a pluralistic society entering the consumer revolution.
Barquist=s Myers polishes your Jewish pride as it rehearses successful firsts. Myers was a first
generation Jew, born in New York in 1723. A colonial, he could apprentice in precious metal,
prohibited to European Jews because of the anti-Semitic slur of usury. His gorgeous work attracted
patrons from the colony=s who=s-who and a privateer or two. Jewish kin and community created
a second network of sales and financial support; his work for them was less showy, revealing a
Jewish practice of living quietly.
Myers supported the patriots despite his loyalist patrons; he spent the war years as a refugee. His
mastery of three different styles over his lifetime (Baroque, Rococo and Neoclassical) accommodated
swings in taste from luxurious refinement to egalitarian democracy. We learn the economics of his
workshops (rich wives helped), financial dabbling in a mine (oops!), his role models and competition
(no, Revere wasn=t a competitor; retail crafts were local; when Myers= sister and her husband
moved to Boston they became Revere customers.)
The prolific Myers (13 children) and countless silver pieces (380 still exist) filled specifically Jewish
commissions; the catalog reveals his magnificent Torah finials. The observant Myers was an
innovative businessman as well as cutting edge artist. In his synagogue offices he navigated the mix
of Sephardic and Ashkenazic, a congregation without a rabbi and the translation of Hebrew into
English (rabbis prohibited this in London). Myers proclaimed his Jewish identity and his equality.
His mark, prominently displayed, used his full surname, revealing his pride in his talent, his product
and his connections. The catalog delivers him through strong narrative, photographs of stunning
silver, handsome portraits by renowned painters, and reproductions of rare documents. Don=t miss
the copy, colonized in the Library.

Прокрутить вверх