Finding Jews on Wall Street is no big surprise, not in 2008. But when these are Jews of the 17th century, a time when a person walking down Wall Street could still see the “wall” that gave the tiny street its name, a real wall built by Dutch traders to keep out Indians and pirates, you know you’ve got one unusual story going on.
Welcome to the world of Avner Gold. Welcome to The Fur Traders.
Avner Gold needs no introduction to readers of Jewish novels. His beloved series of historical novels captured the imagination of a generation. After a long hiatus, Rabbi Gold restarted the series, which followed the fortunes of the extraordinary Dominguez family, with The Long Road to Freedom, published by ArtScroll this past summer. In the second of the series, Scandal in Amsterdam, the setting moves out of Spain and France and into Holland – where Sebastian finds greater religious freedom, but where betrayal and mystery still lurk at every turn.
In the newest book in the acclaimed series, The Fur Traders, the Dominguez family fortunes turn to the New World. And what a world it is, brimming with fascinating characters and breathtaking adventure, populated by Indians hostile and friendly, slaves, rogues, and man-eating bears. Sebastian Dominguez and his two friends, one of them a Marrano just rediscovering his stolen heritage, the other a Dutch Jew looking to escape a personal tragedy, survive a terrifying ocean voyage and a disastrous shipwreck and join the fledgling Jewish community of New York. Here, the trio must rebuild their lives, and learn how to bring their faith and their Torah learning into a place where Jewish life has never existed.
If a New York City with a few dozen Jewish residents seems very far distant from today’s world, The Fur Traders touches our contemporary lives in a very real way, dealing with issues such as true – and false – friendship, intolerance, and the Jewish people’s responsibility for one another. As the author tells us: “Although the story is set three hundred years in the past, it could just as well have happened today.”
Filed under: Inside ArtScroll Weekly