the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Can a Jewish Boy Dream of Being a Pirate? Yes!

Jean Lafitte

Today is “International Talk Like a Pirate Day.” I don’t usually participate in this beloved holiday, although I did once write a post that was somewhat written in pirate-speak.

As a child, I was fascinated by many things — outer space, the French Revolution, my father’s Playboys — but pirates were not on the list. I never met a pirate in Queens, and never gave one thought of ever becoming a pirate. Who wants to ride around in those diseased pirate ships? Who wants to get scurvy? I’m sure the beds aren’t comfortable and the food is terrible. While it might be nice to get some treasure, I think it is wrong to use violence. Let’s be honest — all of you fascinated by pirates — would you really want to sit down for a meal at the Cheesecake Factory with an actual pirate? He’d eat like an animal. And wouldn’t leave a tip. I bet you that a real pirate doesn’t even sing as well as those at Disneyland’s “Pirate of the Caribbean.” And very few pirates have the nice Beverly Hills-saloned hair of Johnny Depp. Most pirate lore is pure fantasy.


I was about to say you’re never going to hear the word Jews and pirates in the same sentence, but WAIT! It seems that some Jews became pirates to escape the Inquisition. There is even strong evidence that Jean Lafitte, one of the most famous pirates in the New Orleans area, was Jewish. Who knew? Of course, some from the Louisiana area aren’t happy with the possibility. They take their pirate roots very seriously, and don’t want their hero to have been eating bagels for breakfast before he plundered a ship.

Here is an anonymous commenter writing on the Pratie Place blog. The hair on my arms always goes up when I hear people writing about “the blood of lafittes flowing through their veins.” —

I have family who has lived where Jean Lafitte settled in Louisiana sfor over 200 years. My people migrated here before this was America, and my French roots tie me to jean Lafitte. He was not Jewish. I am not Jewish, amd the same blood of lafittes flows through me. I am an authentic native Baratarian, we fought for New Orleans, and none of us are Jewish. My family is authentic Creole and Cajun, none of this is tied to any Jewish religion. Our people traditionally are Roman Catholic. There is absolutely no reason why Jews should attack our heritage this way and try to disprove one of our famous family members. It is disgrace to all who call Lafitte our brother and friend. I grew up swming in the bodies of water where Lafitte sailed his boats and I grew up being told the stories of his life… he was not Jewish.

Our people are French, we are from Acadiana, we originally moved from France West, but refused to bow to the British Crown and for that we were deported, killed, forced into labor etc…

While Jewish people would like to believe Jean Lafitte was jewish, he most certainly was NOT, as has been debunked by local Lafitte Historians.

The internet is a great place, but it is also a great place for rumors and undereducated guesses like this.

Jean Lafitte was not Jewish. And it is somewhat of an insult to have your family name and blood, constantly attacked by Jewish people trying to prove he was Jewish when he was not.

Jeez, what’s the big deal? Maybe if I had known that Jean Lafitte was Jewish, I would have actually been inspired as a young Jewish boy to dream of being a pirate rather than an attorney, doctor, or blogger. Today I salute you, Jewish pirates of yesteryear!

In honor of Jean Lafitte, may I now present “A Jewish Pirate’s Life” — a song based on the annoying song at the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland.

Yo ho, yo ho, a Jewish pirate’s life for me
We pillage, we plunder, we eat bagels and lox
Drink up, me ‘earties, yo ho.
We pilfer and filch, we circumsize o’ cocks,
Drink up me ‘earties, yo ho.

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.
We kidnap and ravage, we’re nice Jewish boys
Drink up, me ‘earties, yo ho.
We’re better marauders than even the goys
Drink up me ‘earties, yo ho.

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.
We’re rascals, scoundrels, but do good in school
Drink up, me ‘earties, yo ho.
We’re devils and black sheep, but still go to shul
Drink up, me ‘earties, yo ho.


  1. Tuck

    I had a vision of Larry Craig stating I am not a pirate, I have never been a pirate, and I don’t associate with pirates (especially the gay ones). In other words (in 4th grade speak since we are talking about pirates, the one who smelt it, dealt it. Take that Mr. Authentic-Creole-and Cajun Anonymous.

  2. Finn

    So what he’s saying is, Lafitte was NOT Jewish?

  3. Tuck

    …one more thing…is that a Michael Jackson Pirate figure?

  4. Neil

    Not sure, but I can get you one online for $9.99.

  5. sassy

    I used to live in the historic district of Charleston S.C. in a house that had been a pirate’s tavern in the 1600’s.

    Trouble is, there were three stories. I don’t know how they ever made it up to the top with their peg legs.

  6. butterfly

    Jeez Lou-eez…iana! I’m not Jewish, but if I was, I think I’d be as insulted by this person’s rant as s/he seems to be by the “implication” that the dude was Jewish in the first place. One can recount one’s family origins’ and history without such an anti-semitic tone, anonymous Lafitte-freak! Jeez, indeed.

    Neil, with your penchant for wearing women’s underwear, I think you are much better suited for “Bar Wench” than a pirate anyway. 😉 Arrrgggh!

  7. Neil

    I understand that we carry the DNA of our family, but the use of the term “family blood” is just creepy to me. Knowing what some of my family members eat, I certainly wouldn’t want their cholesterol-high blood.

  8. claire


  9. Pearl

    Ahoy me might pirate! Little did I know your share the blood of the gold chest and cutlass. Arrr, a raise me glass to ya!

  10. TorontoPearl

    According to the photo accompanying this post, you seem to want to be a PIRATE GIRL. Or maybe it’s just that you want to be a pirate and have a pirate girl as a girlfriend. Or both…!

  11. Neil

    Pearl, you’re right… that photo is a bit misleading… maybe I should change that…

  12. Caron

    Are we drinking rum, or Mogan David? Oy ho!

  13. pia

    First that rhyme was hysterical. I had a boyfriend–who could have been a 20th century pirate–his entire family is buried in that cemetery. Thanks Neil this explains a missing link in my life

  14. MammaLoves

    The funny thing is that person is an idiot!! The Cajuns and the Creoles are two totally different things. The writer doth protest too much I believe.

    Thanks for the song. It takes weeks to leave my head just by the mention of Disney World (which is one of my favorite places in the world–I can’t help but feel like a kid). The only thing worse?

    It’s a world of laughter
    A world of tears

  15. V-Grrrl

    I just love when I get to see Johnny Depp first thing in the morning….

  16. ElizaF

    I loved the muppets pirate movie but I don’t think there were any jewish pirate muppets in it. The film was all the poorer for in.

  17. melanie

    so, are we done being pirates now? I think it would be fun to eat with a pirate at an outdoor buffet with dogs, wenches and some brew. I believe you would find it entertaining too.

    whats the big deal?

  18. Erin

    LOVE your version of the song, although I do wish you would have gone ahead and recorded it for us… 😉

  19. Neil

    Melanie — I’m not completely done with my pirate phase just yet. My motto is “milk a joke for as long as possible.”

  20. Neil

    Erin — here’s the midi to the song.

    I tried to sing my song, but it isn’t easy. I don’t have much of a pirate accent. And my lyrics are really clunky. This is probably why lyricists rarely use the word “circumsize” in popular songs. I have a friend who writes musicals in New York. Maybe I’ll ask him for help.

  21. scarlet hip

    You owe me a post, Captain Neilochka.

  22. mckay

    i was once in a play with a guy who went on to be a pirate in the johnny depp franchise. you should see his myspace page! lots o pillaging pals has that one. arrrr

  23. teahouseblossom

    You are too funny!! Great poem.

    I grew up in Loo-siana, and yes, Jean Lafitte as quite a folk hero. But did you know that there is quite a sizable Jewish population in and around New Orleans? So his membership among the tribe is very possible…

  24. sandra

    What about your penis? Does he want to be a pirate.

  25. Akaky

    A pirate that goes Oy instead of Arghhh? That’s a little hard to believe; a Jewish pirate making you walk the plank and then worrying about you getting wet and catching your death of cold like that little Klein boy from across the street who forgot to put his galoshes on. Tsuris, tsuris, tsuris

  26. Jack

    Poor Frenchy is upset that Lafitte is a MOT.

  27. grace, MetaHara

    I’m not Catholic or Jewish or any of that sort of affiliation…so, hmmmm, for you to understand where those folks are coming from – think of this:
    If the Catholics of a hundred years from now unearthed evidence that proved Einstien was Catholic, what would the Jewish community say?

  28. Neil

    The Jewish community would say, “Good. Now when Jewish mothers tell their sons to stay home and study so they can become like Einstein, Jewish boys can reply, “Why? He wasn’t even Jewish! I’m going to play Halo 3!”

  29. Jennie

    Neil — I found your post while googling for “Yarmulkes” and “Pirates.” On we sell a Star of David pendant with skulls on the tips that I call the Jewish Pirate Necklace and people are buying them like crazy! I still haven’t found kippas with Skulls and Crossbones for my customers but I’m glad I found your post. Jews really can be pirates!

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