Esther Abrahams (c. 1767-1846) was born in London, England to a poor Jewish family. As a struggling pregnant teenager, she was arrested for petty theft and sentenced to seven years in the new penal colony of Australia. Two months later, Esther and her baby were aboard the First Fleet: 11 ships of settlers, colonists, and prisoners headed for Australia. She arrived in Sydney in January of 1788, becoming the first Jewish person on the continent. During the voyage, she had met a British officer named George Johnston, and the two fell in love. They married and had seven children. In 1808, her husband led the Rum Rebellion in overthrowing the local British governor. Johnston became the new lieutenant-governor of the colony. While he was away for four years to defend himself against charges of mutiny, Esther ran his vast estate and business operations. Among her descendants are a number of notable Australian military and political leaders.
On the other side of the world, another Esther was the first Jew to set foot in Canada. Esther Brandeau (b. 1718) was born near Bayonne, France. To escape intense antisemitic persecution in France at the time, she dressed up as a Catholic man and got hired as a sailor for a voyage to the French colony of Quebec. Eventually, her true identity was discovered and she was arrested. Jews were forbidden from settling in Catholic Quebec at the time, and her desperate pleas for refuge were rejected. She was given an option to convert or be expelled. Brandeau chose the latter, and was shipped back to France. What happened to her afterwards is unknown. Her story has inspired at least three different novels and a play.
Words of the Week
Israel became the people conceived in slavery so that it would never cease to long for liberty… – Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
Lawrence Sheldon Strulovitch (b. 1959) was born in Montreal. He grew up dreaming of owning and driving Ferraris, and decided to make that a reality by following in his father’s footsteps to become an investor. In the early 80’s, he started by investing in Pierre Cardin and soon introduced their kid’s wear line to the Canadian market. After this success, he did the same with Polo Ralph Lauren in Europe before co-founding Sportswear Holdings Ltd. in 1989 and purchasing a major stake in Tommy Hilfiger. Together with his partner, Stroll is credited with making Tommy Hilfiger the iconic brand that it has become. In 2003, Stroll started working with Michael Kors, similarly expanding it into the international brand that it is today. By 2012, Stroll was listed on Forbes billionaire’s list, and is currently among the wealthiest Canadians. His dream fulfilled, Stroll has some 25 Ferraris in his collection, and owns the Ferrari dealership in Quebec, as well as the Mont-Tremblant racing circuit.
Lance Stroll (Credit: Eddie Keogh/Reuters)
Stroll also introduced his son, Lance Stroll (b. 1998) to the Ferrari world. By age 11, Lance had won a handful of go-karting championships, was voted Rookie of the Year and Driver of the Year, and was signed by Ferrari to its Driver Academy – the youngest person to enter the program in its history. Earlier this year, he made his professional debut in Daytona. Yesterday, it was announced that Lance will join the Williams Martini Formula One team. At 18 years old, this makes him the youngest Formula One driver in the world.
Words of the Week
Our prayers are answered not when we are given what we ask, but when we are challenged to be what we can be. – Morris Adler