Sunday, December 10, 2006

SERIES Sephard in Ashkenaz and Ashkenaz in Sephard. The Unlikely Ties between Sephardim and Yiddish.




This article reminded of a little known historical fact.

Yitzchak Leibush Peretz (1852-1915)was a well known figure in the emergence of Yiddishism and Yiddish literature in Eastern Europe.

Peretz was born in Zamcoz, Poland and began his career as a lawyer and later as a cemetery caretaker. What is less known about him is that he was came from a prominent Sephardic family. Now,you might ask what is a Sephardic man doing in Poland and writing Yiddish literature no less.

The founders of the Zamocz Jewish community were Sephardic Jews, in fact King Casimir of Poland only permitted Spanish and Portugese Jews (mostly merchants from the Ottoman empire)to settle there.

Another famous historical figure who came from Zamocz was Communist leader Rosa Luxembourg.

Zamocz was an interesting exception to the rule in that it is probably the only exclusively Sephardic enclave known to have existed within overwhelmingly Ashkenazic Poland. The existence of individual Sephardic Jews all over Eastern Europe-almost all of whom became "Ashkenazified"- is another overlooked topic which I will discuss more in depth in another post.

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24 Comments:

At Wednesday, December 13, 2006 11:52:00 PM, Anonymous holy hyrax said...

The existence of individual Sephardic Jews all over Eastern Europe-almost all of whom became "Ashkenazified"- is another overlooked topic which I will discuss more in depth in another post.

Good. looking forward to that. Question: How come I dont see you commenting on other blogs.

 
At Sunday, December 17, 2006 3:33:00 PM, Blogger Ha-historion said...

Finals week :)

 
At Wednesday, December 27, 2006 11:07:00 AM, Blogger Daniel said...

The visual similarity is uncanny - is it possible that Defence Minister Amir Peretz is a great-grandson of this Peretz?

 
At Wednesday, December 27, 2006 3:32:00 PM, Blogger Ha-historion said...

Wouldn't that be something.. DM Peretz, a 'polani' God forbid..

As far as I know Amir is of Morrocan Jewish stock. I dont know of any connection with Polish Sephardim.

 
At Thursday, December 28, 2006 8:54:00 AM, Blogger Daniel said...

Still, look the two in the face and tell me they're not related. And it wouldn't be the first time that a person enhanced convenient parts of their ethnic origin and disenhanced others for political gain ...

 
At Thursday, December 28, 2006 5:35:00 PM, Blogger Ha-historion said...

Actually Amir would have been better off if he utilized his Polish Sephardic origins for political gain. He could have been the first political candidate with the support of both Polanim and Morrocans, something hitherto unheard of.

 
At Thursday, January 11, 2007 4:01:00 PM, Anonymous Maghrebi said...

I thought Peretz was a moderate fella (he condemned the occupation) but like all Sephardi in Israel they try to act more Ashkenazim than Ashkenazi themselves to prove their worthiness to the ruling Ashkenazi class. So Peretz let go all his socialist anti-capitalist ideals and became a ruthless bulldozer a-la Sharon.

Like other Israeli who were threatened with arrest warrants outside of Israel, he will join the number of Israeli officials who no longer venture to leave Israel (except for America for now).

There is an arrest warrant against Peretz in Morocco since he still holds the Moroccan citizenship. He at least can never dream of visiting the many sites Moroccan-Jews visit every year in the country.

 
At Thursday, January 11, 2007 7:42:00 PM, Blogger Ha-historion said...

Maghrebi,

The only occupation in Israel is the Muslim occupation of the ancestral Jewish Homeland. The only so called 'moderates' left in Israel are those who want to commit national suicide willingly.

I too was once a moderate and believed in the so called "peace process" but your people have since shown their true faces as they massacred men and women and children indiscriminately. Frankly, I don't trust you.

Inshallah, all the enemies of Israel will be expelled to any one of your 22 Arab countries and Jerusalem will indeed be liberated soon in its entirety.

p.s. Most Sephardim in Israel are indeed staunchly right-wing precisely because they know the Arabs well, after living with them for centuries.

 
At Saturday, January 13, 2007 1:43:00 AM, Anonymous Maghrebi said...

You're more fanatic than I thought my friend, not too mention clear signs of Islamphobia.

Israel already committed suicide since day 1.

 
At Monday, January 15, 2007 1:07:00 AM, Blogger Ha-historion said...

I am a realist, not a fanatic.

 
At Tuesday, January 16, 2007 10:40:00 AM, Blogger Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

in the same vein as YL Peretz, there was a Yiddish poet in postwar, Communist Poland whose name was: Dovid Sfard דאוויד ספרד. I have one of his books of Yiddish poetry, printed in Communist Poland. Of course, the Commies back in the fifties and sixties were still trying to attract support from Jews in the West who were attached to Yiddish.

On the other hand, quite a few North African and Ottoman Jews bear the family name Ashkenazi. There was even a Weizman family in Morocco.

by the way, I think it's cute that Comrade Maghrebi uses Marxist "class struggle" terminology in favor of Arab nationalist/chauvinist positions.

 
At Wednesday, January 17, 2007 1:12:00 AM, Blogger Ha-historion said...

Eliyahu,

I've never heard of this Sfard fellow, sounds interesting.

There are no true Arab marxists. I remember finding it highly amusing when I read about PFLP Marxist leader George Habash reaction to the clashes between the PLO and the IDF in 1968 at Karameh, Jordan. "I thank God" he shouted repeatedly, "that he gave me the oppurtunity to face the Israeli forces".

 
At Tuesday, January 23, 2007 11:48:00 PM, Blogger Ha-historion said...

Eliyahu once again,

I actually contacted Professor Anna Sfard of MSU who is a daughter in-law of the late Dovid Sfard.

In her e-mail she wrote:

"There is no evidence that the name of my late father-in-law is of Iberian origin, although this cannot be ruled out".

 
At Wednesday, January 24, 2007 12:08:00 PM, Blogger Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

It's interesting that Dovid Sfard has a daughter-in-law teaching at an American U. As for "there is no evidence," actually, there is no evidence that she knows of. Which does not mean NO Evidence. "This cannot be ruled Out" is evasive. After all, how would somebody get the name Sfard anyhow? Jews in Eastern Europe, and many people in general, took family names from places where they were living or had lived or had come from [or their paternal ancestors had come from]. Like the new Israeli army commander-in-chief, Gabi Ashkenazi, who is an Oriental Jew, as far as I know. Anyway, back to Anna, many people don't know their yihus or family tree.
By the way, I have read that the Horovitz family [in the various variants of the name] were descended from Sefardim who settled in a town called Horowica in Bohemia [Czechia].
Explanations of the terms Ashkenaz and Sefarad as used today appeared in an article published about 1950, I think in Jewish Social Studies, or maybe some no longer extant journal called Jewish History or some such. Ashkenaz & Sefarad are Biblical place names, Ashkenaz in Armenia and Sefarad being another name for Sardis. Much Later, they took on the present meanings. Ashkenaz was related by its sound to the Germanic word Skandza [as in Scandinavia] which meant northern Europe.

 
At Wednesday, January 24, 2007 10:33:00 PM, Blogger Ha-historion said...

Eliyahu,

It's funny you mentioned Ashkenazi, I was about to make a post about him. It was slightly amusing, though frustrating to see the comments on the Hebrew news sites re: him and his background. One commenter comaplained that his appointment smacks of anti-Sephardic sentiment lol (I'm not sure if he was being serious or not, but the utter ignorance of many of the posters in Jewish history was quite stark and more than a bit depressing).

Re: the Horowitzs (Halevi), it is well known that they originate from Gerona, Spain. The Sephardic Rishon, Rabbi Zerahaya Halevi is considered one of the patriarchs of this family.

 
At Saturday, February 03, 2007 5:14:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most probably that the name (Dovid) Sfard links that family origin back to Spain Jews' expel eara in 1492. It is the same as in Toledo families' history. You could find 'Toledo's' in Poland, Romania and Turkey in the 20th century. Two different Toledo's families I know personaly living in Israel today. The sure got their surnames on the names of the places they fled from.

Ashkenazi surname is the name of Ashkenazim's families that moved from Ashkenazi congregations to Sefaradi ones due to Anti Semitic persuit or social relations (marriage or commerce needs). The new coming Israeli IDF commander, Gabi Ashkenazi, was born to such a family - A Bulgarian Jew holocaust surviver father and Syrian Jewish mother.

 
At Sunday, February 04, 2007 1:23:00 AM, Blogger Ha-historion said...

anon,

Are you talking of 'toledano' or 'toledo' ; I've never heard of either one residing in Eastern Europe.

 
At Thursday, January 01, 2009 8:51:00 PM, Blogger Mikha'el said...

Sorry to join this discussion so late--as for the surname "Sfard" in Dovid Sfard, rathewr than indicate Sephardic Jewish lineage, it could have been a pen name or indicated that they followed the Sfard (i.e., hassidic) nusakh of the liturgy. I was explaining this to a perplexed woman I know here in NY whose family originally came from what is now Belarus who insisted that she was of Sephardic origin because she knew that her grandfather helped found a "Sfard" synagogue in Brownsville in the early 1900s that she was most likely not Sephardi.

 
At Thursday, January 01, 2009 8:56:00 PM, Blogger Mikha'el said...

Another name found among Ashkenazim indicating Sefardi descent is "Charlap", "Harlap" etc...

It is an acronym for Hahahm Rashi le Yehudei Polin, and they are scions of a Sefardi rabbi who came to Poland to serve as rabbi.

 
At Thursday, July 01, 2010 3:30:00 AM, Blogger peltalaw said...

My family descended from Sephardim who left Spain AFTER 1492. All we know is that 4 brothers left. The women and children stayed behind. This fact of Sephardim going to Poland is one that seems difficult for many people to accept. I do not know why. The world is a diverse place.

 
At Saturday, January 22, 2011 3:13:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awesome post. Really enjoyed reading your blog posts..

 
At Tuesday, February 01, 2011 2:24:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds good, I like to read your blog, just added to my favorites ;).

 
At Friday, November 23, 2012 7:00:00 PM, Blogger Enrico said...

Just by chance a cousin of mine sent me a copy of the blg. I am a direct descendant of I.L.Peretz. My family came from Poland in the early 1900's, just after the first war. My great,, great, great grandmother was Perla Peretz (spanish name), niece to the poet Now I live in rome Italy while the rest fo my family lives between Argentina and Brazil. It's my brazilian cousin who discored the blog. Thanks

 
At Saturday, January 04, 2014 10:04:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enrico: I don't want to sound pedantic but you are not a direct descendant of Il. L. Peretz but of his niece!

 

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