JFFE Family - Rashi Descent #rabbinic

Chaim freedman

In a recent post, Jim Bennet suggested DNA testing to determine
relationships of various JAFFE families.

I would like to highly recommend this project particularly as some
of the JAFFEs hold a tradition of descent >from Rashi and thereby
from King David.
However, I don't believe that the tradition of descent >from Rashi
is valid.

I"ve studied many sources and there is no convincing evidence. I
studied the late Dr. Paul Jacoby's JAFFE files and he says:

"Traditional descent >from Rashi claimed for the earliest
(or anyway for some later) members of the JAFFE family.
See para........[blank] of the Introductory Notes."

The introductory notes are missing >from the file at the National and
University Library at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

This is hardly conclusive evidence.

I believe that the confusion arose >from Levinstein's comment on page
154 of "Ir Tehilah" (Feinstein, A.L. Warsaw 1885) where he states
that Yekhiel Mikhel EPSTEIN was a son-in-law of Mordekhai JAFFE, the
Levush, and the son-in-law of Yekhiel-Mikhel was Avraham HEIPRIN who
was a descendant of Elkhanan of the Baalei Hatosafot, who was
descended >from Rashi. But that does not mean that the Levush was
descended >from Elkhanan.

It is probably this comment which H. Rosenthal misread and made the
statement which appears in the Jewish Encyclopedia (Funk and Wagnals
1903). But even there Rosenthal casts doubt on the JAFFE tradition
of Rashi descent stating "Levenstein's conclusions, however, have
not yet been substantiated." Yet others adopted this to claim that
the JAFFEs are of Rashi descent.

Furthermore, having studied Jacoby's comments about the theoretic
ancestors of the Levush (and other JAFFEs) I do not see proof of
descent one >from the other, nor that they used JAFFE as a surname.
The Levush refers to himself as "I the sewer Mordekhai, called JAFFE
(or good looking) son of Adoni Avi Hekhasid Reb Avraham"

He does not ascribe any rabbinic titles to his father, hardly in
keeping with the identification of his father as a great scholar in
Prague etc.

Jacoby's JAFFE file is full of such terms as "revolving sequence of
given names", "not as a family name", "mere phantoms created by
confusion with", "father's name not certain".

So, I doubt that there was a JAFFE *family* as such before the
Levush's descendants adopted the surname, as did others, who may or
may not be related to each other.

I consulted the authoritative rabbinical critical genealogy expert
Rabbi Shlomo Englard and he likewise has not seen any proof of JAFFE
descent >from Rashi.

I plan to put together an article bringing all the sources, the
majority of which do not claim Rashi descent for the Levush or the
JAFFE family.

One possibility of acquiring further evidence would be to extend the
DNA sampling to include the HEILPRIN family and any other families
claiming male descent >from Elkhanan and thereby perhaps to establish
a "Rashi Davidic Marker" for the male lines descended >from Rashi's

Chaim Freedman
Petah Tikvah, Israel

See Davidic Dynasty http://www.davidicdynasty.org/

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