Thursday, January 15, 2009

SERIES Sephard in Ashkenaz and Ashkenaz in Sephard. Calahora, a remarkable Sephardic family in Poland













What is the connection between a city in Spain, two Jewish martyrs, a moralist Rabbi, and a Socialist activist?

My upcoming paper (now over 30 pages and counting) explores the history and genealogy of Sephardic Jews who settled in Eastern Europe. It is a subject that I find fascinating and I believe is woefully unexplored.

In the course of my research I stumbled across a remarkable family -about whom I will cite here only several tidbits- namely the Kalahora/Calahora family of Poland.
Dr. Solomon Kalahora, Personal Physician to the Polish Monarch Sygmund August(1520-1572) and his successor King Stephen Bathory (1533-1586), was a Sephardic Jew (in some sources a converso) who settled in Cracow, Poland in the 16th century[1]. Though the Kalahoras (The name would later undergo many variations and changes including: Kolhari, Kolchor, Kolchory, Kalifari, Calaforra, Kalvari, Landsberg Posner, Zweigenbaul, Rabowsky, Olschwitz and Milsky) had come to Poland from Italy, the family name was based on the name of the Spanish town of Calahorra from where the family originated.


Of the Patriarch Solomon’s six children, Moses continued the family branch in Cracow, and Israel Samuel (1560-1640), the Rabbi of Lenchista founded the Poznan branch. One of Israel Samuel’s sons was Matityahu Calahora(pictured, third from top), who according to the contemporary Polish historian, Kochowski was a “well-known physician with an extensive practice in Christian and even clerical circles”. Matityahu’s life came to a violent end when he became embroiled in a religious dispute with a Dominican friar named Havlin. The Russian- Jewish historian Simon Dubnow describes the event, disturbing in its sheer brutality:



The priest invited Calahora to a disputation in the cloister, but the Jew declined, promising to expound his views in writing. A few days later the priest found on his chair in the church a statement written in German and containing a violent arraignment of the cult of the Immaculate Virgin. It is not impossible that the statement was composed and placed in the church by an adherent of the "Reformation or the Arian heresy" both of which were then the object of persecution in Poland. However, the Dominican decided that Calahora was the author, and brought the charge of blasphemy against him. The Court of the Royal Castle cross-examined the defendant under torture, without being able to obtain a confession. Wit- nesses testified that Calahora was not even able to write German. Being a native of Italy, he used the Italian language in his conversations with the Dominican. In spite of all this evidence, the unfortunate Calahora was sentenced to be burned at the stake. The alarmed Jewish community raised a protest, and the case was accordingly transferred to the highest court in Piotrkov. The accused was sent in chains to Piotrkov, together with the plaintiff and the witnesses. But the arch-Catholic tribunal confirmed the verdict of the lower court, ordering that the sentence be executed in the following barbarous sequence: first the lips of the " blasphemer " to be cut off ; next his hand that had held the fateful statement to be burned; then the tongue, which had spoken against the Christian religion, to be excised ; finally the body to be burned at the stake, and the ashes of the victim to be loaded into a cannon and discharged into the air. This cannibal ceremonial was faithfully carried out on December 13, 1663, on the market place of Piotrkov. For two centuries the Jews of Cracow followed the custom of reciting, on the fourteenth of Kislev, in the old synagogue of that city, a memorial prayer for the soul of the martyr Calahora. [2]




Matityahu’s son Michael and his two grandsons were also notable physicians in Poland. Matityahu's brother, Solomon Calahora married the daughter of the Posen physician, Judah de Lima (another Sephardic family that settled in Poland, of whom we shall talk more later).
One of Solomon's sons was Joseph (1601-1696), also known as Joseph Darshan (literally, preacher) of Poznan who authored a popular work on ethical and moral obligations, Yesod Yosef , published in Frankfurt, in 1679 (pictured first from top). Joseph's son, Arye Leib Kalifari, a preacher in Posen was the founder of the Landsberg and Posner families. Arye Leib became the second member of this family to be martyred when he was arrested and tortured by the Catholic authorities in 1735 in the course of a blood libel. Heinrich Graetz describes the event in his History of the Jews:
Adalbert Yablonowitz, a son of a prominent citzizen disappeared from his home and his mutilated body was found in a village near Posen. The Christian population of Posen....at once charged the Jews with the crime. The majority of the Jews of Posen-fearing violence- fled for their lives. The preacher, Aryeh Leib; the communal representative Jacob ben Pinhas and 2 parnasim Isaac and Hertz were seized and thrown in prison. The preacher and the representative were tortured and died in prison (Arye Leib rebuffed an offer to spare his life if he converted--J.D.) . The trial of the parnasim and 5 other prominent Jews dragged on for nearly 4 years when a foreign community, Vienna, it seems, procured an able advocate who succeeded in proving the innocence of the acccused and the latter were released in 1740. [3]
Aryeh Leib's great-grandson, Solomon Posner (1780-1863) was the author of a family chronicle, Toar Penei Shlomo.


Stanislaw Posner(pictured, fourth from top), pseudonym: Henryk Bezmaski(1868-1930) was a grandson of the aforementioned Solomon Posner and a Polish socialist activist, senator, lawyer and publicist. He also authored Poland as an Independent Economic Unit. See more about him here.

Notes:


[1]. Calahora was only one of a number of Jewish physicians who settled in Poland at that time. Other notable personages include: Samuel de Lima, Samuel bar Meshulam, Shlomo Ashkenazy, the brothers Levi-Lieberman Fortis Ostila, and Moses Montalto.

[2]. History of the Jews in Russia and Poland by Semen Markovich Dubnow


[3]. Popular History of the Jews by Heinrich Graetz. p. 284






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17 Comments:

At Saturday, January 17, 2009 1:02:00 PM, Blogger Judy said...

The story of the Sephardic physician Dr Kalahora and his sons is fascinating! Hahistorion, you put a human face on the DNA research I do. I am going to look for DNA evidence in Family Tree DNA and ysearch for all the surnames of the Kalahora descandants as well as the other Sephardic physicians you mention who migrated to Poland. If modern Ashkenazi families with recent Polish ancestry who carry these surnames can link their ancestors to Solomon Kalahora or the other Sephardic physicians (through documentation), then I will have a treasure trove of Sephardic DNA. Any Ashkenazi Jewish male whose Y-DNA matches these families would also have Sephardic ancestry, whether they are aware of it or not.

Judy Simon
administrator, Iberian Ashkenaz Y-DNA project

 
At Thursday, February 19, 2009 4:25:00 AM, Blogger jordan said...

this is incredible work! i suspected much of this but lacked the resources to look into it. keep up the amazing work--i look forward to reading your article!

 
At Tuesday, May 12, 2009 8:43:00 PM, Blogger Avrum Safed said...

Hi Joel,

I have been following your blog for quite a while now, and am really enjoying your pieces.
Let me, however, express some criticism regarding your genealogy of the Kalahora family; a critique that holds true for a lot of Jewish genealogy. You seem to base your genealogy on secondary sources; some books are quite dated, and hence, I doubt that they would be considered scientific in an academic context, because the claims in such publications are difficult to test or verify. You seem to construct a family tree by extracting bits and bits from a variety of books; a sentence here, a passage there, from books that carry fairly generic titles such as '"History of the Jews in Russia and Poland ". How would a writer of a comprehensive book on Jewish history in Poland and Russia have the time to check a specific fact on the Kalahora family? Presumably, that writer based himself on yet another book, and not on a primary source either. Don't get me wrong, I have used this "scrap-methodology" myself far too often; however, I also realize its limits; it's a not a scientific method. I have used such a method because 1) lack of primary sources 2) it would be extremely difficult to go through primary sources. One would have to actually visit archives in Poland, Spain, Russia etc and master all the languages and dialects related to the topic). It would take countless years and a tremendous amount of energy to complete a single genealogy, however, the result would be something scientific, and would not have such a impressionistic, rudimentary quality as your (and my own) work. I agree that our "naive" approach is probably the best possible, realistic alternative to real scientific research, and I would also very much encourage you to continue your research; however, - i mean this more as a general observation- it's a pity that most Jewish genealogy publications aren't capable of going beyond the anecdotal, beyond secondary sources. We need to work towards a fact-based, veriable scientific quality standard for Jewish genealogies, that transcends anecdote and wild speculations that are solely based on similarities of surnames.

 
At Wednesday, June 03, 2009 6:57:00 AM, Blogger Ha-historion said...

Avrum, your criticisms are welcome and valid. This blog affords me the opportunity to publish snippets regarding subjects that I am interested in. I am planning on discussing these subjects more in depth in the future (perhaps in book format) which I assure you will be well researched and annotated. Thanks for your comment.

 
At Thursday, July 09, 2009 8:12:00 AM, Blogger davidf said...

1) Elias Joseph Juda de Lima Pozner Norden - born 1694 in Posen died 1758 in Amsterdam, and

2) Abraham Joseph Juda Pozner - born 1697 in Posen and died 1728 in Amsterdam.

Do you know the possible relationship, if any, to your Juda de Lima?

 
At Friday, January 15, 2010 3:21:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I inclination not approve on it. I assume warm-hearted post. Expressly the designation attracted me to review the intact story.

 
At Monday, March 01, 2010 1:31:00 PM, Blogger star said...

Joel is back with a great post on one prominent and very interesting Sephardic family, the Calahora - Kalahora (with such varients and changes documented as Kolhari, Kolchor, Kolchory, Kalvari, Landsberg, Posner, Zweigenbaum, Rabowsky, Olschwitz, and Misky). As I generally do with postings of this type, the names are bolded for easy reference.
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At Thursday, May 27, 2010 1:22:00 PM, Anonymous Werner said...

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At Friday, July 16, 2010 2:41:00 PM, Blogger Javier Sáenz Munilla said...

Hello. It's interesting to me findin this blog and a jewish familly which origin is my born town, Calahorra, in La Rioja, North of Spain. Calahorra is a city member of the net called 'Red de juderías', which units the main old cities with a jewish history. In Calahorra it's possible to see the ancient Torah discovered only some years ago.
For more information, you can visit the site:

http://www.ayto-calahorra.es/portal/p_49_final_Estructura_menu_accesos.jsp?seccion=s_fdes_d4_v1.jsp&contenido=139&tipo=6&nivel=1400&layout=p_49_final_Estructura_menu_accesos.jsp&codResi=1&language=es&codMenu=40&codMenuPN=75&codMenuSN=12

Shalom,
Javier Sáenz Munilla.-

 
At Sunday, February 06, 2011 4:28:00 PM, Anonymous MarcusVoltori said...

My name is Marcus Acacio Voltori and I am researching my family Ancestry, but I am having trouble finding my great grandmother's maiden name. Now that my grandmother is decreased I feel a sense of lost in not knowing who I really am. I plan to attend college this fall to pursue a degree in History to become a Historian. In order to be successful in my field it is essential to know who I am. My grandmother's name is Nettie Valdery Johnson. Her birth date is November 26, 1912 and her death date is June 24, 2009. She died in Chalmette, Saint Bernard, LA, 70043. She was laid to rest in a cemetery in Hammond, Tangipahoa, LA, 70401. Her mother's married name is Angeline Valdery. Her husband's name was Jimmie Valdery. They were married in Pointe Coupee (New Roads) Louisiana. Angeline's birth date is October 01, 1887 and her death date is January 1981. Angeline's residence at the time of her death was Hammond, Tangipahoa, LA 70401. I do not know where Angeline was born or what her maiden name is. I was told her maiden name is Aaron, but I have not been able to find any information to support this. My research tells me Aaron is a Jewish last name. I would like to know if I have Jewish ancestry. I would appreciate any information you can offer on Angeline Valdery. What I am really trying to find out is the ethnic origins of Angeline Valdery and Jimmie Valdery. I am also trying to backtrack Angeline and Jimmie Valdery's family lineages. I would like to know if they were slaves or immigrants, and from where they may have traveled from. Can you also inform me on Angeline's maiden name, and whom her parents were?


000486 JOHNSON - Nettie Valdery Johnson passed away on Wednesday, June 24, 2009. She was born November 26, 1916 in New Roads, Louisiana. She spent many years of life in Independence, Hammond, and New Orleans, Louisiana. She attended school in New Roads and Hammond, Louisiana. Nettie was a devoted and very active member of the Holy Ghost Catholic Church in Hammond and she insisted that all her children attend Church every Sunday as long as they lived under her roof. She was a housewife who stayed at home and raised her children with strong love, compassion and affection. Nettie was a devoted and loving wife to her husband Percy for 52 years, an outstanding mother to her children and a committed member to her church. Nettie is survived by two sons, three daughters, one daughter-in-law, one son-in-law, twenty-seven
grandchildren, fifty-one great-grandchildren, fourteen great great-grandchildren, and a host of
nieces, nephews, and other relatives and friends. Relatives and friends of the family are
invited to attend the Mass of Christian Burial at Saint David Catholic Church, 5617 Saint
Claude Ave., on Wednesday, July 1, 2009 at 10:00 A.M. Visitation from 9:00 - 10:00 A.M.
Arrangements by N.A. James Funeral Home. Times Picayune 07-01-2009

 
At Sunday, April 15, 2012 11:09:00 AM, Blogger G-Topa said...

My fathers side of my family (including myself and my siblings) are direct descendants of the Calahora family and we have documentation to prove it.

 
At Sunday, April 15, 2012 11:11:00 AM, Blogger G-Topa said...

My fathers side of my family (including myself and my siblings) are direct descendants of the Calahora family. We also have the documentation to prove it.

 
At Sunday, April 15, 2012 2:51:00 PM, Blogger G-Topa said...

We would love to help with the DNA project.

 
At Saturday, April 28, 2012 2:01:00 AM, Anonymous Nina Kalhor said...

My last name is Kalhor, I am of Kurdish descent and was born in Iran. The name Kalhor belongs to a large Kurdish tribe located in the west of Iran on the borders with Iraq. Nowadays you can find Kalhors scattered all over Iran, and many think that Kalhor's are of semite ethnicity and used to be Jewish not too long ago. Once researching for my last name on the net I found out that on the very south/west corner of Pakistan with Iran lives a large group of people called Kalhora, which is believe to have come from the same Kalhor Clan of Iran. Could the Calahorra of Italy have been originated from the same Kalhors too?

 
At Monday, July 23, 2012 10:38:00 AM, Anonymous Ed Yisroel Susskind said...

My family come from Biecz Poland ( family names Frankl, Susskind, Weinberger) and I recently heard the Calahora Salomoon story in Biecz per Ira Goetz:
You may perhaps be acquainted with the Calahora story, purportedly a story of Sephardic physician rabbi who was granted land in Biecz as a result of his services to one of thePolish kings but forfeited it when he left the area and Biecz became one of the towns where Jews were no longer allowed to live. For Calahora's son or grandson to regain the land he supposedly married a Catholic woman and changed his family name, Calahora, to his firsrt name, Salamon. Thus one of the most res-pected Catholic families in Biecz till rtoday is the Salomoon family. Some of that is extrapolated from Polish historical writings. For at least half a century before World War II the Jews of Biecz, young and old, would rest on hot summer Shabesses on the steep Salomon's Barg a quarter mile from the center of the town. I doubt that anyone knew that story then or knows it now unless told by me. I was led to this story and some of its sources by a gentile in Biecz when I mused about the name Salomon, a non-Polish name (though it could be of German origin), since I was a child and used to play on Salomon's Mountain.

I woiul dbe interested if anyone knows abouit members of this Calahorra family having come to Biecz, as well as if yoou have any information on Fankls, Susskinds or Weinbergers.

 
At Tuesday, July 24, 2012 6:39:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Exactly! I know many thigs about the Calahorra (Kolchory / Horaczyk) family.

I have a very interesting fact to announce. It's about a last name "Abramczyk" which has very misterious history.
It is said that the surname "Abramczyk" has very deep Mizrahi origin. This is a historical fact.
Abramczyk in Hebrew is: אברמצ'יק
In Arabic it is: ابرامسزيك

If we say that all of the non-Ashkenazi Jews including the Mizrahim are Sephardim, than YES, Abramczyk has Sephardi roots.
There is a theory that some Polish-Jewish surnames have some far Sephardic background because as we all should know, the 16-th century Poland was called "the Jewish Heaven" and since the 17th century the Polish Jews were a mix of genetic heritage. Jewish people from all around the Rurope came to Poland because at the time it was the most tolerant country in the whle Europe right after Turkey (the Ottoman Empire).

There is a theory that the Abramczyk surname was adopted by the Jews from the Ottoman Empire because it had the original biblical name in it (which was very important in the Sephardi tradition), plus the suffix -czyk meant "the first-born son of...", so as a result "Abramczyk" was "the son of Abram".
To prove the suffix theory some historians give an example of "Taitaczak" or "Taitaczyk" which is a pure Sephardic surname.

Some other theory states that the Polish Sephardim had to change their last names in order to become the Polish citizens and the full members of the Polish-Jewish community as well. That is why some language scientists and historians claim that the "Abramczyk" surname might be coming from Sefardi surnames like "Abravanel", "Abramenti", "Avramento", "Abrameto", "Abraim", "Abrach", "Abraira", "Abramo", "Abrami" or "Brami". It is also very closely related to another Polish-Jewish last name "Abramik".
There was a Sephardi man named Yuri Abramovich Barbanel whose ancestors settled in Russia, changed the surname from "Abrabanel" to "Abramovich" and added the part "Barbanel" afterwards.

What is more, many Jews with the surname "Abramczyk" were of Non-Ashkenazic religious rite. In the records it is stated as "Southern" instead of "Ashkenazic". We might suppose that this "southern" stands for Sephardi/Mizrahi.
At this point we must notice that these Mizrahi (Sephardi) Jews mixed with the Ashkenazim and blended in the world of Polish Jewry.

To sum up - the last name Abramczyk (Abramchik, Abramtzik) is of mixed Jewish origin. These origins might be called as Sephardi but to be precise, I would rather classify it as a Judeo-Slavic last name which is Polish-Jewish and has some Mizrahi Jewish origin.

Thank you for your attention!
-Yehuda Ibn Abram-

 
At Tuesday, July 24, 2012 6:49:00 PM, Anonymous Yehuda Ibn Abram said...

I know many facts about the Calahorra (Kolchory, Horczyk) family.
Nevertheless I'd like to say a few words about a very interesting surname which comes from Poland, which is Polish-Jewish and which is said to have some secret non-Ashkenazic origin. It is quite fascinating.

The surname "Abramczyk" is claimed to have some very deep Mizrahi origin. This is supposedly a historical fact.
Abramczyk in Hebrew is: אברמצ'יק
In Arabic it is: ابرامسزيك

If we say that all of the non-Ashkenazi Jews including the Mizrahim are Sephardim, than YES, Abramczyk has Sephardi roots.
There is a theory that some Polish-Jewish surnames have some far Sephardic background because as we all should know, the 16-th century Poland was called "the Jewish Heaven" and since the 17th century the Polish Jews were a mix of genetic heritage. Jewish people from all around the Rurope came to Poland because at the time it was the most tolerant country in the whle Europe right after Turkey (the Ottoman Empire).

There is a theory that the Abramczyk surname was adopted by the Jews from the Ottoman Empire because it had the original biblical name in it (which was very important in the Sephardi tradition), plus the suffix -czyk meant "the first-born son of...", so as a result "Abramczyk" was "the son of Abram".
To prove the suffix theory some historians give an example of "Taitaczak" or "Taitaczyk" which is a pure Sephardic surname.

Some other theory states that the Polish Sephardim had to change their last names in order to become the Polish citizens and the full members of the Polish-Jewish community as well. That is why some language scientists and historians claim that the "Abramczyk" surname might be coming from Sefardi surnames like "Abravanel", "Abramenti", "Avramento", "Abrameto", "Abraim", "Abrach", "Abraira", "Abramo", "Abrami" or "Brami". It is also very closely related to another Polish-Jewish last name "Abramik".
There was a Sephardi man named Yuri Abramovich Barbanel whose ancestors settled in Russia, changed the surname from "Abrabanel" to "Abramovich" and added the part "Barbanel" afterwards.

What is more, many Jews with the surname "Abramczyk" were of Non-Ashkenazic religious rite. In the records it is stated as "Southern" instead of "Ashkenazic". We might suppose that this "southern" stands for Sephardi/Mizrahi.
At this point we must notice that these Mizrahi (Sephardi) Jews mixed with the Ashkenazim and blended in the world of Polish Jewry.

To sum up - the last name Abramczyk (Abramchik, Abramtzik) is of mixed Jewish origin. These origins might be called as Sephardi but to be precise, I would rather classify it as a Judeo-Slavic last name which is Polish-Jewish and has some Mizrahi Jewish origin.

Thank you for your attention!
-Yehuda Ibn Abram-

 

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