Monday, February 06, 2017

SERIES Sephard in Ashkenaz and Ashkenaz in Sephard. The Sephardic Seneor/Coronel/Coren Family and the Ashkenazic Zaks/Sachs Family, a Journey Across Iberia and Eastern Europe

Now here's an idea for a family DNA project.
There seems to be a connection between the Sephardic "Seneor" and "Coronel/Coren" families on the one hand and the Ashkenazic "Sachs/Zaks" family on the other.

The Seneor family were from the upper class of Castillian society at the time of the expulsion. For instance see about Abraham Seneor here

Abraham's brother (or nephew) was the equally interesting Shlomo Seneor. For more on him see here 

Now apparently, while Abraham Seneor formally converted to the Catholic faith and changed his name to Coronel, a grandson fled to Amsterdam and reverted back to Judaism. Eventually some members of this family made their way to Israel where they still reside. The man who founded the branch in Israel appears to have been the Rabbi and scholar, Nahman Nathan Coronel. One of his descendants was the Jerusalem-born Member of Knesset David Coren  (the name had obviously been shortened at some point).

As late as 2007, an article in Haaretz Newspaper about a gathering of Ladino speakers contained this intriguing passage:

There was a descendant of Abraham Senior, who as everyone familiar with the expulsion of the Jews from Spain knows was the rabbi who gave in to pressure from King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella and converted to Christianity. Senior's Jerusalem progeny is, of course, a completely observant Jew, bubbling with good cheer, who called out Ladino proverbs from his seat in the front row.

Perhaps this unnamed descendant is in fact the aforementioned former member of Knesset who died several years later in 2011 (?).
read the article here

Abraham's brother (or nephew), Shlomo Seneor went through an interesting journey himself as described in my blog post above.

Eventually, his numerous descendants (all of whom remained Jewish), had changed their name to Zaks or Sachs (which is supposed to be an abbreviation of 'zera kodesh seneor' (literally, "holy seed of seneor) although the origin of this surname seems unclear, see for instance here:

"The name Zaks or Saks may or may not be a Hebrew acronym for zera k’doshim sh’mo (“his name descends from martyrs”); I’ve heard a similar story about its derivation from zikhron k’doshey shtendal (“memorial of the martyrs of Stendal”), referring to a medieval massacre in that German city. But the Hebrew doesn’t quite fit; in both cases, the final consonant would have to be a “sh,” and I’ve never met a Zaksh. It would make much more sense if the name were simply a reference to Saxony." See here

Perhaps there are several different families with this same,or similar, surname. Hopefully a DNA study can shed further light.

This particular branch of the family eventually relocated from Hungary and settled in Vilna as well as Prague among other places.

There's certainly a lot to research here.
See also this family tree of sorts:


At Tuesday, May 09, 2017 10:03:00 AM, Blogger Senior Abraham said...

hi Joels, great article about the Coronels Seneor. Im a descendant of don Abraham Seneor. My email is


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