Issue 126 of Genealo-J, the Journal of the French Jewish genealogical
Society (CGJ) has just been published.
The cover of this issue shows the portrait of Tobias Koen (1763-1849).
He was the podiatrist of Emperor Napoleon and of Empress Josephine and
after the fall of Napoleon, the podiatrist of King Charles X. Bernard
Lyon-Caen knew he had a vague relationship with this man but he was
surprised to discover he actually was his own ancestor. He found that
Koen's birthplace was one of the several cities called Muhlhausen in
Germany, specifically the one at 20 km >from Bamberg, in Bavaria.
Lyon-Caen visited Muhlhausen and found the tomb of Tobias Moses and
Ribika, Koen's parents. During his long life Koen lived through the
reigns of five kings, one emperor and two republics. It should be noted
that Koen was the only Jew among the 38 members of Napoleon's medical
staff. Tobias had six children and more than 600 descendents of which
Lyon-Caen gives an extensive list. Let's finish by a small amusing
detail. Tobias Koen had for a while his Parisian office at 27 rue de
l'Echiquier, within a few meters of the place where our society moved
two months ago, at number 16 of the same street.
Anne-Marie Fribourg was interested in the Laufer family and especially
in Madeleine Laufer (1808-1865) and her illegitimate children. They were
born in Foussemagne, Morvillars and Ensisheim, all situated in Alsace.
Between 1846 and 1947 about 250 foreigners of Jewish origin who had
immigrated to Barcelona (Spain) or were born there decided to convert to
Catholicism. Martine Berthelot-Puig-Moreno analyzed their cases through
the archives of Barcelona diocese. Ten percent of these persons
converted between 1931 and 1936, none during the Spanish Civil war
(1936-1939) and 66% between 1939 and 1947, when the government of Franco
was a friend of the Nazis and when it was dangerous to appear as a Jew.
The author shows how the foreign family names were wrongly transcribed
and how the given names were hispanized or were accompanied by Spanish
names. After World War II, a certain number of these people went back to
Judaism. But several of them did not go back to Judaism but,
nevertheless, were buried in the Jewish cemetery.
Eliane Roos Schuhl, who is our specialist of Hebrew palaeography, spent
twenty years to find the mohelbuch of Dambach, Alsace (1669-1727). This
register of circumcisions was written by David Levy, born in 1646, and
is pasted in the pages on an old ritual book (a mahzor) printed in
Venice in 1568. Eliane has deciphered all details of this manuscript
including several anecdotes written in the judeo-alsatian dialect. She
gives a detailed analysis of the 293 circumcisions of boys belonging to
a dozen of different communities.
The French Cour Constitutionnelle is roughly the equivalent of the U.S.
Supreme Court but its members are appointed for a nine-year term only.
Recently, on March 8, 2016, the president of this Court, Jean-Louis
Debre transmitted his responsibility to his successor Laurent Fabius.
These two presidents knew that both had Jewish ancestors but they did
not know they were cousins. To proof this was a child game for our
members. They proved that Debre and Fabius had four different common
ancestors : Akiba Elie Trenel (~1710-1774), Salomon Israel Zay
(~1540-1627), Mardochee Halphen (~1555-1631) and Isaac Hesse (~1660 -
<1715). The three former lived and died in Metz, the last one in
Puttelange (Moselle). Within the Trenel branch, Debre is Fabius' fifth
cousin, once removed. Within the Hesse branch, Debre is Fabius' eighth
cousin, once removed.