Shadarim in the Colonial Americas: Agents of InterCommunal Connectivity and Rabbinic Authority.
Early-modern Ottoman rabbinic authority was centralized in Istanbul through the council known as the pekidei kushta. This rabbinic council responded to the various crises of Ottoman Jewry by resurrecting the late-antique tradition of dispatching emissaries from the Holy Land to the diaspora in search of financial support. (3) These emissaries are known by their Talmudic acronym sh"dr (sheluhah derabanan), or the plural form shadarim. Shadarim traveled to diasporic communities as living embodiments of the Holy Land itself. They journeyed with a certain expectation of respect knowing that the success of their mission depended on their ability to represent the dignity and mystique of the Holy Land. During the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, shadarim traveled to the Jewish communities of Persia, the Near East, North Africa, Europe, and the Americas. (4)
While there are certainly fruitful comparisons to be made between missions to the East and to the West, this article will focus exclusively on the impact of shadarim on the colonial Americas. In examining several case studies it reveals how their missions helped to define and strengthen the interconnectivity, communication, and the power dynamics between metropole and colonial Jewish communities. It also argues, through discussion of the career of the emissary Hayim Yizhak Carigal, that while shadarim in Europe and North Africa were largely outsiders in both internal and inter-communal affairs, in the colonial Americas, the possibility existed for shadarim to transcend their outsider's status and take on established communal roles. Though this article focuses only on the missions of eighteenth-century shadarim, these emissaries continued to travel to the Americas into the nineteenth century and beyond. (5) Indeed missions to the Diaspora representing Israeli academies continue to this very day.
The Shadarim as Agents of Modernity
Shadarim have been a subject of considerable interest to scholars of early modern Jewish history. As perpetually peripatetic border crossers, "perennial outsiders," and champions of traditional rabbinic authority, they played a central role in many of the most transformative historical developments of the early modern period in Jewish history. In many ways, the shadarim were the living embodiments of what it means to be "early modern." They were agents of rabbinic tradition and the guardians of an imagined centrality of the Holy Land. At the same time, as travelers, they fully experienced and frequently embraced the changing world they visited. Travel is itself a type of "neutral society." (6) It brought Jews and non-Jews into close contact, with shared fates, on long sea voyages, overland carriage journeys, and during months spent in quarantine. (7)
A case in point is perhaps the most famous and articulate of all shadarim, Hayim Yosef David Azulai, who traveled throughout North Africa, Italy, as well as Central and Western Europe on two separate missions on behalf of the Jewish community in Hebron. (8) During his second journey to Europe (1773-1778), Azulai was just as focused on secular pursuits--cabinets of curiosity, menageries, libraries, and garden sculptures--as he was on discovering Hebrew manuscripts, interceding in communal disputes, or giving approbations to Hebrew books. There is a strong case to be made that Azulai's flirtation with secular culture in his travelogue Ma'agal Tov (The Good Circuit) should place him among those agents of the "early haskalah" who preceded Moses Mendelssohn in engaging with the outside world within traditionally Jewish constructs. (9)
The best known shaliah to the Americas, Hayim Yizhak Carigal, similarly embodied this encounter with early modernity. His famous relationship with Ezra Stiles in Newport is illustrative of the characteristic phenomenon of collaboration between Philosemitic Christian Hebraists with rabbinic figures. (10) While Carigal came of age in a land distant from the currents of the "early haskalah," he was no less at the cutting edge of eighteenth-century proto-Jewish modernity. Shadarim provided an important point of contact and impetus for accelerated connection between Christians and Jews in the Americas beyond their partnerships with one curious theologian. In 1788, upon the arrival of two shadarim in Philadelphia, The Pennsylvania Packet described to its Christian readers the terrible circumstances of the Jews in the Holy Land and called upon them to also support the mission of the emissaries. (11)
Avraham Ya'ari's magisterial shluhei Eretz Yisrael remains the most encyclopedic resource for the life and travels of individual shadarim. In his introduction, Ya'ari declares his intention to understand the interaction of the shadarim with the communities they visited. But, in effect, the book is more of a polemic against critics of Zionism seeking to undermine the Jewish presence in the Land of Israel. (12) He uses the experiences of shadarim to argue that Jews always lived in Eretz Yisrael before the establishment of the State of Israel and that there had always been a continuity of rabbinic influence from the Holy Land on the communities of the Diaspora, uninterrupted since late antiquity. His deep commitment to a Zionist narrative casts a long shadow over the book's content.
Historical research in the generation following Avraham Ya'ari, the founding father of the study of shlihut (the dispatching of emissaries), has universally cast the shadarim as catalysts of modernity. One study argues that the Jerusalem-born heresy-hunter and emissary, Moshe Hagiz (1671-1750), by virtue of his independence from communal boards, articulated a dynamic reactionary response to Sabbatianism that helped to lay the foundations for modern Orthodoxy. (13) In another study, sbadarim are depicted as transcending inter-ethnic Jewish divisions, thereby enabling the birth of modern pan-Jewish identity. (14)
What these studies all have in common, beyond their attributions of modern characteristics to early modern characters, is the attempt to divorce the shadarim from Ya'ari's "palestinocentric" narrative. (15) It is essential to separate the ideological, liturgical--or even imagined--influence of the Holy Land, constructed largely by the shadarim themselves, from the actual authority it wielded in the diaspora. It is easy to be misled by shadarim themselves. Moshe Hagiz, for example, made it his mission in sefat emet (Language of Truth, Amsterdam, 1697) to promote the theological centrality of the Holy Land, and thereby strengthening the legitimacy of his mission. In exploring the influence of shadarim in the colonial Americas, this article furthers these efforts to discern the true degree of influence of the Holy Land on diaspora communities.
Furthermore, the missions of shadarim were not exclusively devoted to supporting Holy Land communities. The pekidei kushta dispatched shadarim to raise funds for communities throughout the Ottoman Empire. (16) In 1775, for instance, the London community sent a letter to the Jews of New York requesting support for the mission of a shaliah raising funds for the Jews of Smyrna. (17) The missions of eighteenth-century shadarim, backed by Istanbul, not Jerusalem, were in reality, a pan-Ottoman rather than exclusively Holy Land project.
Agents of Inter-Communal Connectivity: Metropole and Colony
The influence of the shadarim was felt most profoundly in the diaspora, not the Holy Land. Through what has been called the "shadar-host economy," shadarim provided outsider rabbinic expertise--intervened in communal and inter-communal conflicts, offered halakhic rulings, gave approbations, and delivered sermons--in return for local support of their missions. (18) They further helped to define, strengthen, and expand the relationships among diasporic communities. Before a community could support a mission, the identity and the credentials of the shaliah had to be verified. This was not an easy task in the eighteenth century, particularly since the emissaries were perennial itinerates, once one community deemed a shaliah valid that information had to be communicated to others within its sphere of influence. This process helped to accelerate ties between the metropole and its colonies.
Beyond the missions of shadarim, support for the Holy Land, even in the nascent Jewish communities of the New World, was an integral part of Jewish communal practice. Following European precedents, Recife, Brazil, the earliest Jewish community of the Americas, elected a treasurer every Rosh Hashanah and tasked him with collecting donations for Terra Santa. The Recife Mahamad passed an ordinance in 1648, modeled on a similar 1627 takkanah from Amsterdam mandating that " [t]he gentlemen of the Mahamad shall be very careful to remit the money of Eretz Israel." (19) The Jewish community of Dutch Curacao followed suit as early as 1671, regularly collecting and remitting funds for the support of Holy Land communities via their mother-community of Amsterdam. (20) Curacao's Jews sent donations to Terra Santa on at least thirty-seven separate occasions during the eighteenth century. (21) Some Jews in the colonial Americas also supported the Holy Land in their probated wills. This was an extremely rare occurrence, however. Out of 450 available wills probated by Jews living in eighteenth-century Jamaica, for instance, private donations to Terra Santa were made in only three. Two of those testators were from the trans-Atlantic Pereira Mendes family. (22)
The most common form of surviving inter-communal trans-Atlantic correspondence regarding support for the Holy Land relates to the European missions of shadarim. The arrival of shadarim in Europe often prompted metropolitan Atlantic communities to reach out to their colonial dependencies for help in shouldering the financial responsibility of those missions. An emissary from Safed, Hayim Moda'i (d. 1794), for example, arrived in London in 1765--after travelling through Egypt, the Ottoman Balkans, and Italy--seeking relief for the Jews of his city in response to the devastating earthquake of 1759 that took many lives, damaged synagogues, academies, and houses. (23)During his mission in London, Moda'i composed a Spanish letter to the Jews of New York in which he described the pitiful condition of Safed's Jews who "were obliged to flee from their homes in their shirts, almost naked, and one hundred and sixty souls lie buried beneath the ruins, their own homes being their tombs." (24)
In response to these critical circumstances, the London Mahamad sought to expand the basis of support for Moda'i's mission from across the Atlantic. They attached a recommendation written in Portuguese to Moda'i's letter introducing the Jews of New York to his mission. The London Mahamad wrote: "We pledge ourselves as sponsors for this mitzvah and are sure that the Congregation will not only contribute as a whole but that each individual member will give generously toward the relief of that poor Kehilah which has suffered so much." (25)
Such requests for financial support of shlihim from metropole communities to their colonial dependencies became common during the eighteenth century. On a number of occasions the Amsterdam community sent requests to the Jews of Curacao, Aruba, and St. Eustatius requesting support for the European missions of shlihim. (26) These letters found in the copiadores de cartas (copies of letters), incorporated into communal ledgers, became standardized over the course of the century. The London community adopted the same method of informing English colonial possessions of the European missions of shadarim. In November 1750, the community in London wrote to Jamaica to inform them of the mission of Mas'ud Bonan, and his companions, explaining how they had examined his credentials and found them credible. (27)
The Tiberius community dispatched the mystical-leaning Bonan to Europe in 1748 where he was accused by Jacob Emden of being a Sabbatian, in league with Jonathan Eybeshutz. (28) Importantly, in the face of some rabbinic controversies, even the authority of the Holy Land was not enough to remove the suspicion of lingering Sabbatianism. Despite these accusations, he gave haskamot to the works of other shadarim while in London. Though he never sailed across the Atlantic, Bonan appears to have had his own connections in Jamaica. The Kingston distiller Moses de Sosa included Mas'ud Bonan as a beneficiary in his will composed in 1733. (29) De Sosa referred to him as his brother (he was possibly his brother-in-law).
On July 1, 1755 the Mahamad of London sent another letter in Portuguese to the communal board of Kingston informing them of Hayim Yosef David Azulai's visit. (30) The Amsterdam community had earlier sent a nearly identical letter to Curacao when Azulai visited that city. (31) The London Mahamad informed the Jews of Jamaica that they had approved of Azulai's credentials and listed the London community members who had already donated to his mission. In February 1770, the London Mahamad reached out once again to both Jamaica and Barbados for support of the mission of Hayim Rahamim Begayo in response to a specific crisis in Hebron where an abusive Bey had exploited the Jews there. (32) In this case they explained how the pekidei kushta had already successfully elicited the support of communities in Italy, France, and Holland through their emissary and likewise informed them of the personal donations of some of the London yehidim.
On the one hand, these many letters suggest that the metropole had the expectation that colonial communities would support the missions of shadarim who never crossed the Atlantic. In a sense, the metropole communities of London and Amsterdam viewed the coffers of Jamaica, Barbados, and Curacao as extensions of their own financial resources. Through these requests, metropole communities tapped their investment in colonial communities to help share the financial burden of lodging and dispatching shadarim. On the other hand, these letters can be seen as an extension of metropolitan patronage. Through these requests, the metropole spared the colony of the financial burden of hosting shadarim by giving them the option of donating to their missions without having to fund their travel and lodging.
The mission of Shmuel ha-Cohen, the last shaliah to visit North America before independence, offers an important case study of these accelerated and enhanced inter-communal connections in addition to illustrating the great cost entailed in the visit of shadarim. (33) Prior to his arrival in North America, the Jerusalem-born ha-Cohen had traveled throughout North Africa in support of the Hebron institution, yeshivat keneset yisrael. In 1763, the pekidei kushta appointed ha-Cohen to travel to the diaspora in search of relief for a crisis in Hebron in which a local Bey had taken members of the Jewish community captive to extort a ransom payment. In 1772 he set out again from Hebron bound for Western Europe. In that year, the Jewish leaders of Amsterdam informed the Jews of the Americas of his imminent arrival. In 1773, the London Mahamad followed suit by informing "the various kehilot of America" of the shaliah's arrival. (34) He landed in Suriname in 1774.
From Suriname, Shmuel ha-Cohen, traveled to Curacao where the community donated generously to his cause and where he received the communally-funded hospitality of a local family. (35) He briefly stopped in Barbados before continuing on his journey to North America. Ahead of his departure from the island, the Jews of Barbados reached out to their brethren in Newport in April 1774 to offer a recommendation. In this case, the inter-communal communication took place between two individual representatives--Isaac Lindo of Barbados and Aaron Lopez of Newport--rather than between communal boards. Lindo vouched for the shaliah Shmuel ha-Cohen writing that "his deportment with us has been praiseworthy, and make not the least doubt but his person will be sufficient to recommend." (36)
In Newport during the summer of 1775, ha-Cohen befriended Ezra Stiles and delivered a sermon on the American "Continental Fast" instituted by the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. Stiles described ha-Cohen, writing that "the Rabbi is thirty-four, was born & educated in the Holy Land & came from Hebron about three years ago. He is a Priest, being of the family of Aaron. Very Agreeable." (37) Stiles later sat with ha-Cohen to discuss the cherubim on the Ark in regard to the prohibition against graven images, along with other biblical curiosities.
After his fruitful stay in Newport, ha-Cohen resolved to travel to New York, a decision that had important implications for the connectivity of American Jewish communities. He never arrived in New York. This was possibly the result of the British occupation of the city. (38) A parnas of Newport, Moses Levy, forwarded ha-Cohen's reference letters and credentials to Moses Gomez, a parnas of New York. (39) Levy requested that instead of paying the cost to dispatch the emissary to New York that the two communities join together to pay his passage to London; the parnasim of New York agreed. In this way they would spare the cost of lodging and the travel subsidy, as had been doled out in Curacao, while still supporting his mission. By 1788, ha-Cohen had returned to the Holy Land from where he began another mission on behalf of yeshivat keneset Yisrael that took him to Italy and Western Europe.
The mission of Shmuel ha-Cohen gave rise to an unprecedented degree of communal connectivity beyond the sharing of costs. Ahead of ha-Cohen's visit to the Americas, the community of Amsterdam issued an open letter or circular in 177Z addressed to the entirety of American Jewry. This utilized a method for communicating with colonial American Jewry that was already well established among European Jewish communities, and reminiscent of Geonic-era responsa. (40) As we have seen, the London community followed suit a year later.
The Amsterdam circular contained a copy of a letter from the heads of the Jewish community of Hebron signed in 1763 where they informed the Jews of the Americas of the "miserable state in which all the inhabitants [of Hebron] find themselves at present." (41) The open letter was even mentioned by Ezra Stiles as being in the possession of his acquaintance Isaac Hart, a Jewish resident in Newport. (42) These open letters and other trans-Atlantic communications reveal that metropolitan communities did not entrust recommendation letters to the emissary himself, as was frequently done in Europe. Instead, they almost always reached out to individual communities or to the entirety of the American colonial Jews, as a singular entity, in recommending the mission of a shaliah. Thus, the missions of shadarim, more than strengthening ties to the Holy Land, in effect strengthened ties between the diasporic communities they visited.
These methods of verifying identity, metropolitan sponsorship, and inter-communal exchange enabled some shadarim who reached the Americas to establish an institutionalized religious authority and to receive pay from the communities in return for their rabbinic services. The clearest example of this, as we will see, is found in the various American missions of the emissary Hayim Yizhak Carigal.
The Shadarim in the Americas: An Institutionalized Itinerancy
At least thirteen shadarim from the Land of Israel crossed the Atlantic between 1750 and 1800, relatively few compared to those who visited North Africa and Europe. As already discussed, metropolitan communities elicited donations from their colonial communities to protect them from the transportation and lodging costs of shadarim. When shadarim did visit the Americas, the cost to those communities was staggering. The New York Mahamad paid as much to dispatch the Safed emissary Moshe Malkhi to Newport in December of 1759 as it paid their shamash for a full year. (43) Malkhi was the first emissary to reach North America. It has been suggested that in addition to collecting funds for his mission during his eighteen-week stay in New York he also served the community in a formal rabbinic capacity, possibly receiving pay from communal funds. (44) Malkhi was more than the first emissary to reach North America, he was likely the first person with rabbinic training to step foot on the continent.
Every English American colony had an established church sustained by tax revenue, be it the Puritanism of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the Quakerism of Pennsylvania, or the Anglicanism of Jamaica and Barbados. Institutionalized religion was an extension of colonial governmental authority. The power to appoint or to dismiss clergy rested with local governors empowered by metropolitan authorities. However, English colonies never achieved the same level of religious homogeneity as the Catholic Spanish Americas. (45) As a result, eighteenth-century English colonies were home to diverse populations of Protestant dissenters such as French Huguenots, Quakers, Moravians, and Baptists in addition to Jews and Catholics. In some colonies, such as Massachusetts Bay and Barbados, Protestant dissenters were, at times, persecuted. (46) In others, such as Rhode Island and Jamaica, religious tolerance prevailed.
Within the established church in some colonies, especially in Jamaica and the Middle American colonies, qualified clergy--those ordained by the Bishop of London--were in high demand because there were so few available, even as the Anglican Church strengthened its position in North America between 1761 and 1775. (47) Furthermore, the Board of Trade in London perennially attempted to combat, with stronger religious legislation, what they perceived to be a lack of religiosity among creoles in the West Indies. (48) Some moralizing European observers perceived White Creoles as a race apart, devoid of religious conviction who are often depicted as hypersexual, uneducated, "negrofied," lighthearted, unserious drunkards who "seldom or never go to church." (49)
As a result of this Protestant diversity, perceived lack of religiosity, and relative weakness of the clergy in both North America and the West Indies, religious authority often came from outside the established church in the form of itinerate preachers such as the travelling Methodists John Wesley and Thomas Coke. (50) During the age of evangelism in the colonial English Americas, the powerful message of "universal salvation" transcended the differences between Protestant sects in the Americas. (51) In North America, "Revivalism" swelled the numbers of Moravians and Baptists throughout the colonies. (52) Many communities preferred a revivalist lay preacher to an established member of the clergy and, throughout the colonies, resident ministers felt their positions threatened. (53)
These itinerate preachers gave rise to the trans-Atlantic "Great Awakening" of the 1740s. Some even referred to one of the leading figures of this movement, George Whitefield (1714-1770), as the "Grand Itinerant." His mission looked astonishingly similar to those of his contemporary shadarim. Like shadarim who traveled to raise funds for their Holy Land institutions, Whitefield traveled to raise funds for his orphanage in Georgia. In the same way that his message of universal salvation transcended the theological divisions among Protestant sects, shadarim could transcend the ethnic and experiential differences within American Jewish communities between Ashkenazi, Sephardi, and former Portuguese conversos.
Like the Christian majorities, each Jewish community of the English Americas had an entrenched religious communal authority of its own. These were modeled on Amsterdam and carried with them the authority to impose taxes, provide childhood education, hire rabbis and functionaries, and censure their members. And, like American Christian communities, they were all dependent on the metropole to supply qualified "ordained" clergy. During the eighteenth century, Amsterdam-trained rabbinic figures were a constant in communities such as Curacao and Jamaica. (54) However, North American communities never attracted graduates of Amsterdam's 'Ez Hayim Yeshiva. It is possible that Holy Land shadarim like Moshe Malkhi were the only rabbinic figures with any formal training in North Amerca. Shadarim also took on communal roles in the more rabbinically stable Caribbean.
In an essay on the sermonic style of the Hebron shaliah Hayim Yizhak Carigal, Laura Leibman made the important observation that the rabbinic authority of the shadar, and the mantle of the Holy Land that he carried, "superseded" the authority of lay local Jewish ministers. (55) She drew a distinction between the Jewish itinerate preacher from the Holy Land and itinerate Protestant ecstatic preachers arguing that "whereas Protestant itinerants often disrupted local hierarchies, Jewish preachers like Carigal cemented far-flung communities to a tribal center and reinforced rabbinic privilege." (56)
I will go further to suggest that shadarim did more than "reinforce rabbinic privilege." In North America, they may have provided the very foundations of rabbinic authority itself. In the Caribbean, they filled critical gaps in the continuity of rabbinic authority. The potential for shadarim in the Americas to assert a communal religious influence, beyond an outsider's influence, far outstripped that potential in Europe or North Africa. I will illustrate this point through examination of the career of the prolific Hebron emissary Hayim Yizhak Carigal.
Carigal was born in Hebron in 1729 and trained by the rabbinic elite there. (57) In 1754, at twenty-five, he set out for his first mission. He visited Egypt, Izmir, Istanbul, Adrianople, Salonika, Aleppo, and Damascus; he went as far east as Isfahan. On his second mission, in 1757, he traveled to Europe. He sailed from Alexandria to Livorno and then toured Italy, the German Lands, Amsterdam, and London. He embarked on his third mission in late summer 1761, which took him across the Atlantic to Curacao.
When he arrived in Curacao, the credibility of rabbinic leadership on the island was under threat. The contentious infighting of the 1740s had dramatically eroded rabbinic authority and influence. During the 1740s, a secessionist crisis led the irascible hakham Samuel Mendes de Sola to abuse his prerogative to excommunicate members of the community. Mendes de Sola excommunicated members of the secessionist party as well as others in positions of communal power who failed to follow his party line. (58) His assistant Rabbi Joshua Hezekiah Decordova, who had been among de Sola's victims, left Curacao to take a post in Jamaica in 1755 where he became the most intellectually productive rabbinic personality in the Caribbean until his death in 1797. (59)
After Decordova's departure from Curacao, Mendes de Sola possessed sole rabbinic leadership in Curacao. Given his past conflicts, the parnasim kept him on a short leash, regulating what he could say in his sermons. They eventually revoked his privilege to deliver sermons altogether in 1759. (60) Having already lost much of his influence, Mendes de Sola died in May of 1761. The community received a replacement when Amsterdam dispatched Rabbi Yizhak Henriquez Farro to the island. But Farro died only fifteen days after his arrival. Therefore, when Carigal arrived in Curacao two months later, he came at a critical time of transition. Even though his mission had been to collect funds for Hebron, he agreed to take the position of communal rabbi for which he received ample remuneration. (61)
Universally respected among the yehidim and parnasim alike, he wasted no time in applying his rabbinic expertise to improving the function of the community. He instituted changes to the liturgy, educational system, and methods of ritual slaughter. (62) Carigal's rabbinic success in Curacao may have been the consequence of a variety of factors. He was seen as the embodiment of the Holy Land; he possessed great Talmudic expertise; or simply because he was an outsider in a deeply divided community. Upon the arrival of a more permanent replacement, the community paid for him to return to Amsterdam. After a four-year residence in Amsterdam, he returned to Hebron. But he did not stay there long. In 1767, he embarked upon his fourth mission, this time for his own personal benefit (shlihut 'azmo). He travelled through France and England spending more than two years in London where he earned a stipend for lecturing at a beit midrash.
In 1771, he travelled to Jamaica from London and he stayed for a full year. At the time, Jamaica had an established Amsterdam-trained rabbinic authority, Joshua Hezekiah Decordova. Still, it appears that Carigal supplemented the Jamaican rabbinate and received payment from the Jamaican community for his services; he remitted funds back to his family during these years. (63) From Jamaica, Carigal traveled north to Philadelphia, New York, and Newport where he befriended Ezra Stiles with whom he had a robust theological discourse. (64) After two years in North America he returned to the Caribbean by way of Suriname in July 1773. He continued to write personal letters to Stiles. (65) From Suriname, he voyaged to Barbados in June 1774 where he became the established institutional rabbinic authority of Nidhe Israel in Bridgetown.
Carigal served as the sole rabbinic head of Nidhe Israel until his death. At the time of Carigal's arrival, the community had been without a rabbi for twenty-two years since the death of Meir Cohen Belinfante in 1752. (66) Suffering from illness, Carigal clearly intended to make Barbados his permanent home. While in Barbados, he also maintained his ties to North America. At his induction in the synagogue he delivered a Spanish sermon that he requested be sent to his friends in Newport for translation, hoping also that Stiles would review the translation. (67) He instituted many of the same types of communal changes and improvements to religious life in Barbados as he had done earlier in Curacao. He died in Barbados at forty-eight in the summer of 1777.
While I have described the experience of only a single shaliah with respect to the communal institutionalization of rabbinic authority of shadarim in the colonial Americas, Carigal represents the possibility that shadarim played a more expansive role in the Western Hemisphere than they did in the East. In Europe, shadarim were frequently seen as interlopers in communal affairs. As outsiders, they often mediated in inter-communal or internal disputes, yet they could not replace, supersede, or supplement entrenched communal rabbinic authorities. In the Americas, they could become the rabbinic establishment itself. In North America, where there was no established rabbinic authority to begin with, they not only carried the imagined mantle of the Holy Land and brought considerable Talmudic expertise, but also exhibited the outsider's authority of the itinerate preacher. In the Caribbean, they filled important gaps in rabbinic authority created by either the death of a hakham, such as in Barbados, or a void created by the misdeeds of a previous hakham who weakened the clout of his office, as in Curacao.
The arrival of shadarim in both metropole and colonial communities provided a powerful force for trans-Atlantic connectivity. Letters sent from Amsterdam and London to Jamaica, Barbados, Curacao, St. Eustatius, and New York, verifying the credentials of peripatetic shadarim, along with recommendation letters sent between prominent individuals, became some of the most common types of inter-communal communication in the eighteenth-century. In drawing on support of colonial congregations for the important mission of the shaliah Shmuel ha-Cohen, both London and Amsterdam consolidated their influence over the entirety of the American Jewish communities.
Beyond necessitating communication to verify the identity of emissaries, the presence of shadarim forced trans-Atlantic communities to further define and refine the dynamics of their relationships. Through the missions of shadarim, metropolitan communities asserted both their patronage as well as their exploitation of colonial communities by requesting that they contribute to European missions. This reality derived from a paternalistic need to protect the resources of the nascent communities of the Americas and from a desire to draw upon them for their own benefit. These efforts to collect funds from colonies for the support of European missions suggest that the patron-client relationship between metropole and colony was more nuanced than unilateral.
While shadarim may have traveled as representatives of the Holy Land, their most profound influence was felt in the diaspora. Historians have nearly universally viewed the shadarim as agents of modernity, either as progenitors of modern orthodoxy or of a modern pan-Jewish identity. Analysis of their travels to the Americas adds an important dimension to this discussion as it reveals the extent to which they stimulated trans-Atlantic and pan-diasporic connectivity, and helped to redefine the meaning of communal rabbinic leadership.
(1.) The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union's Seventh Framework Program (fp7/2007-2013) / ERC grant agreement . I am grateful to Yosef Kaplan for hosting me at the Hebrew University and to Laura Arnold Leibman for her encouragement of this project and for her helpful comments.
(2.) For Jews in Ottoman Palestine see Jacob Barnai, The Jews in Palestine in the Eighteenth Century: Under The Patronage of the Istanbul Committee of Officials for Palestine (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1992). See also Yaron Zur, gevirim ve-yehudim aherim be-mizrah ha-tikhon ha-'otomani, 1750-1830 (Jerusalem: Mosad Bialik, 2016), 177-192.
(3.) On the role of Holy Land emissaries during late antiquity see Avraham Ya'ari, shluhei erez yisrael: toldot ha-shlihut me-ha-arez le-geulah me-hurban bayit shenei 'ad ha-me'ah ha-teish'a 'esreih (Jersualem: Mosad ha-Rav Kook, 1951), 189-196.
(4.) See for instance, Rachel Simon, "Shlichim From Palestine in Libya," Jewish Political Studies Review 19, nos. 1-2 (1997): 33-57.
(5.) See David de Sola Pool and Tamar de Sola Pool, An Old Faith in the New World: Portraits of Shearith Israel 1654-1954 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1955), 396-409. See also Salo W. Baron, "Palestinian Messengers in America, 1849-79: A Record of Four Journeys" in Steeled by Adversity: Essays and Addresses on American Jewish Life, ed. Jeannette M. Baron (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1971), 158-266, and Moshe Davis, America and the Holy Land (Westport: Praeger, 1995).
(6.) On "neutral society" see Jacob Katz, Tradition and Crisis: Jewish Society at the End of the Middle Ages (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press,  2000).
(7.) See Antoni Maczak, Travel in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2010).
(8.) See Hayim Yosef David Azulai, sefer ma'agal tov, ed. Aaron Freimann (Jerusalem: mekizei nirdamim, 1921). See Matthias Lehmann, "Levantinos and Other Jews: Reading H.Y.D. Azulai's Travel Diary" Jewish Social Studies 13, no. 3 (2007): 1-34.
(9.) Shmuel Feiner, The Jewish Enlightenment, trans. Chaya Naor (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002), 36-67.
(10.) See Jonathan Karp and Adam Sutcliff, eds., Philosemitism in History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011).
(11.) Jacob Rader Marcus, American Jewry: Documents: Eighteenth Century (Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College Press, 1959), 103.
(12.) Ya'ari, shluhei erez yisrael, 12.
(13.) Elisheva Carlebach, The Pursuit of Heresy: Rabbi Moses Hagiz and the Sabbatian Controversies (New York: Columbia University Press, 1990).
(14.) Matthias B. Lehmann, Emissaries from the Holy Land: The Sephardic Diaspora and the Practice of Pan-Judaism in the Eighteenth Century (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2014).
(15.) David Malkiel, "The Shadar-Host Economy: New Perspectives on The Travels of Emissaries From the Holy Land," Journal of Modern Jewish Studies 15, no. 3 (2016): 402-418. See also Jonathan Sarna, "A Projection of America As It Ought to Be: Zion in the Mind's Eye of American Jews," in Envisioning Israel: The Changing Ideals and Images of North American Jews, ed. Allon Gal (Jerusalem: The Magnes Press, 1996), 41-59, 42.
(16.) See Jacob R. Marcus, The Colonial American Jew, vol. 2 (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1970), 1048-1050.
(17.) American Jewish Historical Society, "From the 2nd Volume of the Minute Books of the Congn: Shearith Israel in New York," The Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society (PAJHS) 21 (1913): 83-171, 138. Smyrna later sent their own shaliah, Abraham Labit Leon, to New York; Israel Joel et. al., "Items Relating to Congregation Shearith Israel, New York," PAJHS 27 (1920): 1-125, 30.
(18.) See Malkiel, "The Shadar-Host Economy."
(19.) Arnold Wiznitzer, The Records of the Earliest Jewish Community in The New World (New York: American Jewish Historical Society, 1954), 27, 66.
(20.) Isaac S. Emmanuel and Suzanne A. Emmanuel, History of the Jews of the Netherlands Antilles, vol. 1 (Cincinnati: American Jewish Archives, 1970), T54.
(21.) Emmanuel and Emmanuel, History of the Jews of the Netherlands Antilles, vol.1, 155-163.
(22.) "Will of Jacob Pereira Mendes, 1759," fol. 226, lib. 31, Island Records Office, Twickenham, Jamaica (henceforth IRO); "Will of Isaac Pereira Mendes, Sr., 1765," fol. 161, lib.35, IRO; "Will of Jacob Lopes Torres, 1768," fol. 367, lib. 37, IRO.
(23.) On the life of the shaliah Hayim Moda'i see Ya'ari, shluhei erez yisrael, 451-455.
(24.) Joel et. al., "Items Relating to Congregation Shearith Israel," 19. See also Ya'ari, shluhei erez: yisrael, 454.
(25.) Joel et. al., "Items Relating to Congregation Shearith Israel," 18.
(26.) Emmanuel and Emmanuel, History of the Jews of the Netherlands Antilles, vol. I, 153-162.
(27.) "Minutes Book: The Mahamad, 1750-1775," 4521/A/01/03/002, The London Metropolitan Archives (henceforth LMA), London, England.
(28.) On the mission of Bonan see Ya'ari, shluhei ere% yisrael, 173.
(29.) "Will of Moses de Sosa, 1734," fol. 190, lib. 19, IRO.
(30.) "Minutes Book: The Mahamad," 1750-1775," 4521/A/01/03/002, LMA.
(31.) Emmanuel and Emmanuel, History of the Jews of the Netherlands Antilles, vol. I, 157
(32.) "Minutes Book: The Mahamad, 1750-1775," 5421/A/01/03/002, LMA.
(33.) On the travels of Shmuel ha-Cohen see Ya'ari, shluhei erez yisrael, 592-593 and Marcus, The Colonial American Jew, vol. 2, 1045-1046.
(34.) Marcus, American Jewry Documents, 102.
(35.) Emmanuel and Emmanuel, History of the Jews of the Netherlands Antilles, vol. 1, 161.
(36.) Marcus, American Jewry Documents, 103. Isaac Lindo would later serve as one of the executors of the will of Hayim Yizhak Carigal, see Wilfred S. Samuel, "Will of Rabbi Carigal," PAJHS 31 (1928): 242-243.
(37.) George A. Kohut, Ezra Stiles and the Jews: Selected Passages from His Literary Diary Concerning Jews and Judaism (New York: Philip Cowen Publisher, 1902), 98. See also Morris Jastrow, "References to Jews in the Diary of Ezra Stiles," PAJHS 10 (1902): 21-22.
(38.) Marcus, The Colonial American Jew, vol. 2, 1046.
(39.) American Jewish Historical Society, "From the 2nd Volume of the Minute Books of the Congn: Shearith Israel," 139.
(40.) On pre-modern Jewish inter-communal communication see the essays in Sophia Menache, ed. Communication in the Jewish Diaspora: The Pre-Modern World (Leiden: Brill, 1996).
(41.) Isaac Rivkind, "Some Remarks About Messengers from Palestine to America," PAJHS 34 (1937): 288-294, 292-294.
(42.) Kohut, Ezra Stiles and the Jews, 64-65.
(43.) De Sola Pool and de Sola Pool, An Old Faith in the New World, 397. On the career of Moshe Malkhi see Ya'ari, shluhei erez yisrael, 446. Ya'ari erroneously referred to him as "the first emissary from the Land of Israel to arrive in the New World."
(44.) Marcus, The Colonial American Jew, vol. 2, 1045.
(45.) Carla Gardina Pestana, Protestant Empire: Religion and the Making of the British Atlantic World (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009), 159-186.
(46.) See Larry Dale Gragg, The Quaker Community on Barbados: Challenging the Culture of the Planter Class (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2009).
(47.) For complaints about the lack of qualified clergy in Jamaica see "Jacob Blumfeld's Petition to the Board of Trade, 1739," CO 137/23, 54, The National Archives of England (henceforth TNA), Kew, England. See Jewel L. Spangler, Virginians Reborn: Anglican Monopoly, Evangelical Dissent, and the Rise of the Baptists in the Late Eighteenth Century (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2008).
(48.) See for instance "Board of Trade to the Governor of Jamaica, 1758," CO 138/20, 364-371, TNA. See also Edward Long, The History of Jamaica: or General Survey of the Antient and Modern State of That Island, vol. 2. (London: Printed for T. Lowndes, in Fleet-Street, 1774), 239. See also Shirley C. Gordon, God Almighty, Make Me Free: Christianity in Preemancipation Jamaica (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996), 4.
(49.) J. B. Moreton, West India Customs and Manners: Containing Strictures on the Soil, Cultivation, Produce, Trade, Officers, and Inhabitants; with the Method of Establishing and Conduction A Sugar Plantation to which is Added the Practice of Training New Slaves (London: Printed for J. Parsons, Paternoster Row, 1793), 104-111.
(50.) See Russell E. Richey, Early American Methodism (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991).
(51.) Pestana, Protestant Empire, 159-186.
(52.) See Spangler, Virginians Reborn.
(53.) Pestana, Protestant Empire, 204.
(54.) See Emmanuel and Emmanuel, History of the Jews of the Netherlands Antilles, vol. 1, 90-98, 116-131, 237-249. See also Marcus, The Colonial American Jew, vol. 1, 122-138, vol. 2, 927-929.
(55.) Laura Leibman, "From Holy Land to New England Canaan: Rabbi Haim Carigal and Sephardic Itinerant Preaching in the Eighteenth Century," Early American Literature 44, no. 1 (2009): 71-93, 74
(56.) Leibman, "From Holy Land to New England Canaan," 75.
(57.) On the life and travels of Carigal see Ya'ari, shlubei erez yisrael, 580-583.
(58.) On these communal conflicts see Emmanuel and Emmanuel, History of the Jews of the Netherlands Antilles, vol. 1, 181-212.
(59.) On Decordova see Stanley Mirvis, "Joshua Hezekiah Decordova and a Rabbinic Counter-Enlightenment from Colonial Jamaica," in Reappraisals and New Studies of the Modern Jewish Experience: Essays in Honor of Robert M. Seltzer, eds. Brian Smollett and Christian Wiese (Leiden: Brill, 2014), 104-122.
(60.) Emmanuel and Emmanuel, History of the Jews of the Netherlands Antilles, vol. 1, 2-44
(61.) Emmanuel and Emmanuel, History of the Jews of the Netherlands Antilles, vol. 1, 249.
(62.) Isaac S. Emmanuel, "Jewish Education in Curacao (1692-1802)" PAJHS 44, 4 (1955): 215-236, 223-225.
(63.) Marcus, The Colonial American Jew, vol. 2, 1046.
(64.) See Michael Hoberman, New Israel/New England: Jews and Puritans in Early America (Amherst and Boston: University of Massachusetts Press, 2011), 161-201.
(65.) Lee M. Friedman, Rabbi Haim Isaac Carigal: His Newport Sermon and his Yale Portrait (Boston: Privately Printed, 1940), 15-25.
(66.) On Belinfante see Marcus, The Colonial American Jew, vol. 1, 125.
(67.) Marcus, The Colonial American Jew, vol. 1, 125.
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|Title Annotation:||Jewish emissaries|
|Publication:||American Jewish History|
|Date:||Apr 1, 2018|
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