Jews as Seafarers in Impressive Maritime History, 'They To ok to the Sea'
An excellent research task in associated with the shipping of
making an "historical survey of citrus fruits.
Jewish maritime activities" has
When the Maritime League
been performed by Samuel Tal-
was founded in Palestine lie
kowsky in "They Took to the Sea,"
became its chairman in 1937.
published by Thomas Yoseloff (11
In 1946 he became chairman of
E. 36th, N.Y. 16).
the Israel ZIM Navigation Co.
The author, who was born 78
He served as an Israeli Consul
years ago in Belgium, where he
General and later as Israel's
was educated in agronomy, be-
Minister Plenipotentiary in
came a citrus grower and ex-
porter in Palestine. He held im-
A dedicated Bible student who
portant world Zionist positions, takes a deep interest in archaeo-
was secretary of the Zionist dele- logy, the sea also has attracted
gation at the Versailles Peace Tolkowsky, and his new book
Conference after World War I shows a genuine scholastic back-
and his interest in the maritime ground. "They Took to the Sea"
problems began when he became traces Jewish maritime activities
National Pastime in Israel: Digging
Into Past History of the Holy Land
The most popular sport in Israel,
according to Francis Ofner in the
Christian Science Monitor, is
archaeology. Prof. Benjamin Ma-
zar, head of the Hebrew Univer-
sity Archaeological Institute, said
"There is a general upsurge of
archaeological interest all over
The two most interesting finds
of the past two years, as evaluated
by Dr. Abraham Biran, head of
the government's Department of
Antiquities, were the Pontius Pil-
ate Stone in Caesarea, mentioning
for the first time the Roman gov-
ernor of ancient Judaea; and the
current digs at Massada recon-
structing the daily life of 1st Cen-
An entire city of the Early
Bronze Age of about 3000 BCE
was unearthed at Tel Arad,
which probably served as a fort
on the road from Asia and the
Mediterranean, and may have
been a center of pottery manu-
facture exporting to Egypt. The
remains of another city of the
days of King David or King
Solomon revealed vessels for in-
cense and libation likely to have
been used for pagan offerings to
the stars and moon.
Another pagan mixture with
Judaism was found in the Hamat
Tiberias 6th or 7th Century syna-
gogue, whose beautiful mosaics de-
pict not only the Ark of the Law
and two menorahs but also an'ex-
quisitely drawn head of a man, a
picture presumably frowned upon
in those days.
To coordinate these and other
excavations, an Israel Archaeolo-
gical Council was recently estab-
lished, under the chairmanship of
Prof. Mazar and Dr. Biran. The
council plans to start a compre-
hensive archaeological survey of
Israel later this year.
from the time of the Hebrew con-
quest Of Canaan to the current
Israeli seafaring activities.
Tolkowsky turns to Proverbs
30:19—"the way of an eagle in
the air, the way of a serpent upon
a rock, the way of a ship in the
midst of the sea"—to illustrate
the seafaring interest in ancient
Commencing with the early sea-
faring tribes who inhabited the
eastern Mediterranean shores, Tol-
kowsky disproves a statement in
Josephus, in the reply to anti-
Semites, "Against Apion," in
which the First Century Jewish
historian wrote "we are not living
in a country situated on the sea
and therefore we do not engage
in maritime or other trade." He
states that this was true only in
the application "to those periods
during which the coastal districts
of Palestine, or at least its mari-
time cities, were held by the
Canaanites, the Philistines, or the
Greeks in the west, or by the
Edomines in the south. But
whenever parts of the Mediter-
ranean or Red Sea coastlines were
Hebrew tereritory, the Israelites
took an active part in the sea-
borne trade of the day."
Tolkowsky describes how silver
was transported from Tarshish
and spices and gold from Ophir.
He quotes from scriptural sources
to emphasize his points, and the
numerous illustrations strengthen
the theme. For instance, he goes
to Psalm 107 to quote:
"They that go down to the
sea in ships, that do business in
great waters . • "
Many important figures in his-
tory are in the cast of characters
of seafarers. Ancient Judaea is
shown to have presented a chal-
lenge to Rome in maritime activi-
While relating the incidents
about the ancient seafarers, Tol-
kowsky reconstructs history, so
that his book is in some measure
a chronice of Jewish events
throughout the ages.
The manner in
which trade by
sea was barred
to Jews during
the Middle Ages
and in the time
of the Crusades
is part of an in-
cal account. The
stood in the way
of progress and
But Jews were
among the scien-
Abraham Cr es-
ques and his son
their celebrated "Catalan Atlas"
in 1376-77, Abraham ben Samuel
Zacuto of the 15th Century was
a noted astronomer and the Jews
of Spain played an important role
in maritime activities. Much
space is devoted here to the voy-
age of Columbus and Tolkowsky
describes the part that was played
in it by marranos. Columbus'
three voyages receive splendid
treatment in this book.
An entire additional long
chapter is devoted to "The
Secret of Christoper Columbus,
to the claims that he was a Jew,
to the Jews who were with him.
Quoting a number of authori-
ties, Tolkowsky maintains that
"it is now generally believed
that the family was of Spanish-
Jewish origin and that, having
been forcibly baptized during
one of the recurring waves of
anti-Jewish rioting of the late
14th and early 15th Centuries
in Spain, they had left their
home and had sought refuge in
Genoa, in the hope of being able
there to practice the Jewish re-
ligion, even if secretly, without
the same constant physical
There is an interesting chapter
about Sinan, the famous 16th
Century "Jewish Pirate" who
ravaged coastal plains.
Marranos and secret Jews who
settled in Latin America similarly
played important parts in mari-
Most authoritative is Tolkow-
sky's analysis of the modern mari-
time activities, their revival in
Israel and the progress that has
been made by Jewish seararers
since the establishment of the
State of Israel.
As early as 1924, the Hapoel
sports movement in Palestine
started a maritime section.
Many seafaring undertakings
are recorded and while some
failed they served as initiators
of the maritime Israeli trade.
The fishermen's villages, the
establishment of a Nautical School
at the Technion, the emergency
of expertness after the sad ex-
perience by Jews in their efforts
to bring "illegal" immigrants to
Israel on "ghost ships," the emer-
gence of an Israeli Navy, the de-
feat of the Egyptions—these all
led to the rise of Israel as a
modern seafaring nation.
Tolkowsky's account is filled
with tales of adventures. It is
replete with historical data. It
is an authoritative account of
Israel's maritime strength. "They
Took to the Sea" is an excellent
account of Jews as seafarers from
the earliest time to the present.
A Weekly Column for the Advanced
THE TARBUTH FOUNDATION FOR THE
ADVANCEMENT OF HEBREW CULTURE
AMERICAN JEWISH PRESS ASSOCIATION
Editor: DR. SHLOMO KODESH
Easy conversations taken from everyday life in Israel — with typical
colloquialisms and proverbs!
HAPPY HOLIDAYI—Across the Wires (lieN; Imo I fit P?
Tr,;tril n TrIpr tirt :vi a /iv/
Shosbana: Hello Rivkah!
RIvkab: Who is speaking? Shoshana.
I didn't recognize your voice.
S. What's doing at home? Are you
getting ready for the Holidays?
R. Not exactly! This year I am
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S. . -What happened? You'll be a
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R. Exactly. We decided to go with
the children to a resort place.
And you. are you staying at
home for the holidays?
S. This time, no! We would gladly
stay home. Zvi loves to spend the
holidays with his family. I too
am tired of the fussing of
hospitality. This year we are
going to the Kibbutz.
R. Whom do you have hi the
L Did you forget? My sifter
Deborah is a member of
R. Correct. I forgot. Happy
Holidays Shoshana. How good
and pleasant it is for sisters to
dwell in unity.
Made from Round Steak
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GROUND BEEF PATTIES
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SAME FLAVOR AND
GOODNESS IN A
JUNIOR SIZE PATTY
What happened (suddenly)
How good and how pleasant it Is
for brethren to dwell together
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
and now for the small fry
Friday, July 24, 1964