Benjamin the Traveler (1821-1867), aka Izzy Josephson II, was not a traveler in the usual sense of the "errant Jew." Rather, the name refers to his baffling voyage aboard the Mimosa, the Patagonia-bound ship that left Liverpool on 24 May 1865 with approximately 150 Welsh men, women and children. The only son of American Loyalists (with a bizarre allegiance to the French crown) who fled north following the War of 1812, Benjamin was a lifelong student – indeed one of the earliest scholars – of what he termed "Hebroid" writing. In particular, he was convinced that the use of "w" as a vowel in Welsh was due to an early Celtic misunderstanding of the waw-conversive in Biblical Hebrew, and spent most of the 1850s and the early 1860s scouring the British Isles for the elusive evidence. His decision to board the Mimosa seems to have been motivated by an off-handed suggestion from That Guy that the Welsh who were to settle in South America would imitate the Spanish-speaking Jews who wrote their vernacular in Hebrew script, thus providing him with the "Hebroid" Welsh writing required by his grander theory.

Having barely survived two harsh winters in Patagonia, Benjamin resolved to cross the hemisphere to witness his homeland's nominal independence from Britain in the summer of 1867. His convoy, however, was attacked on June 30, the eve of Canadian confederation, while crossing a suspension bridge high above a gorge in upstate New York, where he perished. His father wrote a series of impassioned letters to the Canadian Parliament to have "Erev Canada," as he proposed it, declared a national day of mourning and fasting in his son's honour, but to no avail. Benjamin's contribution to Jewish scholarship was finally recognized in 2005, when Scrivener-Archivist D.L. Strolovitch earned the J.M.R.G.'s first Ph.D. by defending his dissertation on "Hebroid" Portuguese on the 138th anniversary of the Traveler's death.

[Back to E.F.O.J.M.R.G. gallery]