Costumes at Purim are becoming increasingly popular. On Feb. 8, The CJN ran a photo of Israeli stores selling costumes in the lead-up to Purim. Pirate costumes and pirate parties are also on the rise. A peek at social media sites, such as Pinterest, will confirm this.
Jewish pirates, you say? Why yes!
At the same time as Christopher Columbus set sail to discover a new route to Asia, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella ordered the expulsion of all the Jews from Spain. Soon after, Portugal followed suit. As a result, many Jews fled to Jamaica, most of whom settled in Kingston. Some became farmers, merchants and politicians, but a few felt a compulsion to pursue a more venturesome life on the sea.
These Jewish pirates habitually attacked Spanish and Portuguese ships, as remuneration for generations of injustice. They rambled island coasts in search of riches, which were typically acquired under dubious circumstances. The pirate ships bore the names of Jewish heroes, such as Queen Esther.
The most renowned Jamaican-Jewish pirate was Moses Cohen Henriques, who, in 1628, succeeded in capturing the Spanish treasure fleet. Yet the most famous and swashbuckling Jewish pirate of all time was Jean Laffite. A French-born descendant of Spanish Jews who were persecuted in the Inquisition, he was inspired to turn to piracy and attack Spanish holdings in the New World. He created a pirate community on Galveston Island and fought with distinction in the War of 1812. He became one of the most feared pirates and famous war heroes of his time.
In 2008, a Jewish cemetery was discovered outside of Kingston. Numerous tombstones not only were engraved with Hebrew text, but some stones were also marked with a skull and crossbones. This symbol is said to communicate the pirate’s identity, giving a targeted ship’s crew an opportunity to change their minds and surrender without a fight. But in death, the skull and crossbones was a reliable way of proving oneself a pirate.
Similar markings have also been found in cemeteries in the Bahamas and Curacao.
Arrrrr ye landlubbers celebrating Purim pirate style? Well then, me hearties, heave ho and take heed from the old salt. Look at right for the greatest pirate booty ever to be served over the briny deep!
Pirate treasure chest brownies
o 2½ cups sugar
o 1½ cups plus 4 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
o 1/2 tsp. salt
o 1½ cups pareve margarine
o 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
o 2 tbsp. coconut-flavoured rum
o 4 cold large eggs
o 1 cup all-purpose flour
o 1 cup toasted pecans or macadamia nuts
o 1 cup toasted unsweetened coconut chips
o 1 cup diced dried mango or apricots
o 1 255 g package of pareve chocolate chips
o sugar pearls
o assorted candies
o chocolate coins
Preheat oven to 325 F. Line a 15×10, or similar, Pyrex baking dish with parchment paper, pressing firmly into pan and leaving a two-inch overhang. Then set baking dish aside.
In a food processor, mix sugar, cocoa and salt. Add in margarine, vanilla and rum. Add eggs one at a time. Add flour and pulse until just combined (do not over mix). Add in remaining ingredients and pulse to combine. Scrape the batter into prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until top begins to crack and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 35 to 40 minutes.
Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool completely in pan. Using parchment overhang, lift brownie out of pan and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 16 to 18 squares.
To assemble the pirate chest, microwave chocolate chips for one minute and stir until smooth. Using a piping bag with a large tip, apply the melted chocolate along the back edge of a brownie. Take a second brownie – the “lid” – and place it on top of the bottom brownie. Prop the top brownie open with a toothpick from 1/2 to 3/4 open. Put on a tray and place in refrigerator until the chocolate has set. Pipe chocolate along the sides of the “lid,” about 1/2 inch from the edges and do the same at the front of the bottom piece. Place sugar pearls along each line of chocolate. This is to represent the straps and bolts holding the chest together. Let chocolate set. Pipe chocolate inside the chest and fill with assorted candies, such as jelly beans, chocolate coins and sugar pearls.