Did "Pirates of the Caribbean" miss the boat on its fourth voyage to world box-office dominance?
Don't the producers know Jack about the rarely told story of ... Jewish "Pirates of the Caribbean"?
Shiver me timbers? Go put a sweater on; there's a draft coming on.
And who knows, maybe it's the draft for the fifth screenplay in the dizzyingly successful Disney series of mateys going ahoy if not oy.
As Johnny Depp plumbs the deep blue sea on this fourth spectacular outing, it is somewhat surprising that he hasn't come up against a buccaneer bucking traditional Jewish images.
Jack of all treif meets Long John Silverman? It could happen.
And, according to some accounts, stranger things may have happened to those "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides," now on area screens.
Aargh -- and oy: Edward Kritzler walks the walk -- if not the plank -- in his splash of a nonfictional account of Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean, in which the author offers up the historical heyday of Jews on the high seas with lowly ambitions.
Sure, Jews as doctors, lawyers, journalists -- "On the Scene" can be defensive at times -- but going from davening to looting seems out of character for the People of the Book.
But it's all in this 2008 book: Kritzler's critical account of how Jewish pirates -- first mate among them being Moses Cohen Henriques, whose hardy-har-har hooliganism sailed from the harbors of Jamaica -- earned their gold teeth by ambushing armadas of seafaring nations with skillful skullduggery.
Cross-bones in their cross-hairs? It is said that a number of tombstones in a Jamaican Jewish cemetery have engravings of skulls and cross-bones attesting to the fact that pirates sleep there.
And while Jewish pirate history harks back to the first century BCE -- recorded by Jewish scholar Joseph ben Mattathias, whose perhaps more infamous writings (the accuracy of which were disputed by subsequent scholars) revolves around a Jew who supposedly walked on, not sailed on, water (Jesus) -- Kritzler details how the Jewish pirates of the Caribbean forged their warring water world out of a rebellion against Spain.
Many of these Jewish warriors had traded the gallows for the galleons, forced to flee from Spain during the Inquisition. Indeed, it is reported by Kritzler and others that when Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492, some of those alongside him were conversos, Jews adopting Christianity rather than a noose around their neck or trying out the torture chambers of Torquemada.
Revenge of the Sephardim? In a way, those expelled from Spain and then Portugal plied the seas to seize revenge against the rulers of their former homelands, attacking ships as a way of exacting justice and extracting illicit bounty.
Mezuzah on the bounty: Some laid tefillin and then lay waste to ships at sea, with one, Samuel Palache, son of a rabbi who himself had the mischievous moniker of "The Pirate Rabbi," alternately plundering and praying.
And they set sail on ships that bore their bearings, rascals with regally named schooners such as the Queen Esther and King Solomon.
There were, of course, challenges ashore that would stymie even a Solomon. And these were addressed by a writer for www. bangitout.com, with "Top 10 Halachic Questions for a Jewish Pirate," including:
· If you have a hook instead of a hand, which arm do you put teffilin on?
· Does your treasure map show how far the eruv extends?
· How long do you wait till after capturing a ship to put up a mezuzah in the cabin?
· Are you able to carry on the plank on Shabbat? If your parrot is on your shoulder, is that carrying?
With all this, Johnny Depp's new "Pirates" does carry on something of a Jewish tradition, depending on a bit of Yiddish flavor; after all, aren't he and his grizzled waterlogged gang of "On Stranger Tides" swashbuckling against the tide in pursuit of the Fountain of Youth?
Surely, someone gave him a map to Miami Beach.
Wait! To the battle hatches! Hollywood has thrown a ship-to-shore lifeline to fans: "Scene" has just discovered that a major motion picture is, indeed, in the works about a Jewish pirate.
It may not take place in the Caribbean, but then, hell, Bernie Madoff's plundering knew no bounds.