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The public is invited to a free, virtual Jewish Book Council Author Talk by scholar Laura Arnold Leibman about her engaging historical study Once We Were Slaves: The Extra­or­di­nary Jour­ney of a Mul­ti-Racial Jew­ish Family, which brings to light “the fluidity of America’s racial boundaries and the multiracial threads of Jewish history” (Publisher’s Weekly). This event, hosted by Falmouth Jewish Congregation and Worcester JCC, will take place virtually on Thursday, February 10 at 2:00 P.M. You can view the program on Zoom and on FCTV, which will carry it live on FCTV Public Channel 13 in Falmouth. You can find the Zoom registration link and more information about the JBC author talk series at www.falmouthjewish.org. Books are available from Eight Cousins Bookstore in Falmouth and can be ordered in person, by phone or online at www.eightcousins.com.


"A richly contextual history of multiracial Jews and their travails and triumphs in the New World." --Kirkus

Once We Were Slaves is an engaging work of historical scholarship that follows a
family through its rises and collapses of fortune and, in the process, strips away damaging misconceptions about the homogeneity of America's Jewish community." --Foreword Reviews

An obses­sive geneal­o­gist and descen­dent of one of the most promi­nent Jew­ish fam­i­lies since the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion, Blanche Moses firm­ly believed her mater­nal ances­tors were Sephardic grandees. Using fam­i­ly heir­looms to unlock the mys­tery of Moses’s ances­tors, Once We Were Slaves over­turns the reclu­sive heiress’s assump­tions about her fam­i­ly his­to­ry to reveal that her grand­moth­er and great-uncle, Sarah and Isaac Bran­don, actu­al­ly began their lives as poor Chris­t­ian slaves in Barbados. Tracing the siblings' extraordinary journey throughout the Atlantic World, Leibman examines artifacts they left behind in Barbados, Suriname, London, Philadelphia, and, finally, New York, to show how Sarah and Isaac were able to transform themselves and their lives, becoming free, wealthy, Jewish, and—at times--white. While their affluence made them unusual, their story mirrors that of the largely forgotten population of mixed African and Jewish ancestry that constituted as much as ten percent of the Jewish communities in which the siblings lived, and sheds new light on the fluidity of race--as well as on the role of religion in racial shift--in the first half of the nineteenth century.

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