Samuel Palache, Hakham (1550 - 1616) MP

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Birthplace: Fez, Morocco
Death: Died in Gravenhage, Netherlands
Managed by: Anthony Cohen
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About Samuel Palache, Hakham

Rabbi Samuel Palache grew up in Morocco but ended up in Amsterdam in 1610. He proposed that the Prince of Orange and the Sultan of Morocco get together.

Rabbi Samuel Palache and his brother, Joseph, who went from commanding pirate ships to founding the first openly Jewish community in the New World - Amsterdam. This resulted in Jews being allowed to settle in Amsterdam.

In 1614, he went on an expedition, captured a couple of Spanish ships, got to Plymouth, and was subsequently arrested for piracy.

In Madrid, the Inquisition probably suspected them of inciting the Marranos to leave the country and return to Judaism. To escape prosecution, they took asylum in the house of the French ambassador, and offered their services to King Henry IV; they left Spain a short while later. According to some historians, Samuel was the first Jew to settle in the Netherlands as a declared Jew. He was responsible for obtaining the authorization for his coreligionists to settle. He gathered the first minyan in Amsterdam at his home for Day of Atonement prayers in 1596. Palache is also said to have built the first synagogue in that country. According to documents in the Netherlands archives, the right to settle in the country was refused to him, and during the same year, 1608, he was appointed ambassador to The Hague by the Moroccan sultan Mulay Zīdān.

In 1610 he successfully negotiated the first treaty of alliance between a Christian state (the Netherlands), and a Muslim state (Morocco). In 1614 he personally assumed the command of a small Moroccan fleet which seized some ships belonging to the king of Spain, with whom Morocco was at war. The Spanish ambassador, who was very influential in London, had him arrested when he was in England. He accused him of piracy; reverberations of his trial were widespread. Once acquitted, he returned to the Netherlands. When he died in The Hague, Palache was given an imposing funeral attended by Prince Maurice of Nassau. Samuel Palache's two sons, Isaac and Jacob-Carlos, also engaged in diplomatic work. The former was entrusted with Dutch interests in Morocco from 1624, and the latter represented the sultan in Copenhagen. Samuel's brother, Joseph Palache (d. after 1638), succeeded him in his diplomatic position. Joseph Palache's five sons held very important offices. One of them, Isaac Palache (d. 1647) was known as "the lame." His variegated career included a mission to the Ottoman sultan (1614–1), important negotiations in Danzig (1618–19), a professorship in Hebrew at the University of Leiden, and missions to Morocco and Algiers in 1624 on behalf of the Dutch. In 1639 he was called upon to redeem the Christian captives who were held by the famous marabout of Tazerwalt. He became involved in a violent conflict with his brothers over succession rights and converted to Christianity. Another son, Moses Palache (d. after 1650), was secretary to his uncle Samuel at the French court, interpreter and secretary to the sultan of Morocco, and the de facto – but not official – foreign minister of four successive Moroccan sovereigns; his name was cited by Manasseh Ben Israel to Oliver Cromwell as an example of the loyalty of the Jews when he sought authorization for them to settle in England.

There is no doubt among them, and no fear, and no thought that they might not be victorious. For do they not sail with Reb Palache, the man who consults with angels every night? Do they not bear good steel made in best Damascene fashion, and have they not always triumphed before? And this is just one ship, one lonely ship against which they will strike with a sword of wrath and fire.

Reb Palache, the Rabbi Pirate, features in “The Thirty-Ninth Labor of Reb Palache” by Richard Dansky, published in The New Hero Volume 1.

The titular hero of Richard Dansky’s “The Thirty-Ninth Labor of Reb Palache” is a Rabbi, and a pirate. To quote the story, “He is a trader and a teacher, a sailor and a spy, a diplomat and a pirate of bloody intent, an exile and a man who has prospered in a new land.” And he’s a man about to face a rival ship, bristling with cannon. Richard pitched two stories to me for this project. The other one seemed great but I forget what it was, because this one was about a pirate rabbi, and that’s where I said “sold.” And then the piece came in, written in a stunning epic voice, rolling with the rhythm of the sea. The juxtaposition between holy man and buccaneer, which you might expect to be presented in a joking manner, instead acquires a mystical grandeur.

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Samuel Palache, Hakham's Timeline

Fez, Morocco
Age 36
Age 38
Age 40
February 4, 1616
Age 66
Gravenhage, Netherlands