Italian Jews #general


Tvllivs <tvllivs@...>
 

I suspect that my maternal great, great grandmother was an Italian Jew. At
present I have no proof. What leads me to believe it is that her name was
Rebecca, a decidedly odd name for a girl born in the Italian south in the first
or second decade of the 19th Century, especially if she were Roman Catholic.
She named her daughter, my great grandmother, Alberinta or possibly Almirenta,
names that are so unique that I've begun to doubt they are Italian.

Great, great grandmother Rebecca D'Elia married Nicola Cantante. His surname
means "singer". In Italy today there are fewer than eighteen families with
this surname. Isn't it odd, I've asked myself, that in a country known for
its singers, that this surname should be so very, very rare? I wonder if
"cantante" might be a direct translation of cantor. Plainly they derive from
the same root and have the same meaning.

Can anyone in the newsgroup help me? Can anyone steer me away >from guessing
and onto more solid ground?

Many thanks in advance,

Alan J. Tullio.
Lynbrook, New York


Lester Gediman <lsg3@...>
 

Alan Tullio asked for help to determine if his suspicion, that his gggm
was an Italian Jew, is well placed. I think there are enough clues to
support that theory.

First I must admit, I'm no maven re Italian Jews, but I do know
something about the country and language. I was a student in Italy
1950-5, then worked for an Italian firm in Florence in 1958-59, and
have some ideas.

Singer is cantante as he correctly stated, but cantor in Italian is
cantore. As these two words are so closely linked, I'd persue the
possibility of a connection.

Rebecca is a strong clue, but other biblical names are common among
gentile Italians: Lea is the first that comes to mind. The complete name
of Rebecca D'ELIA sure looks like a patronymic: Rebecca [daughter] of
Elias--I'm using English spelling. Though D'ELIA may be a toponymic, I'd
bet my lire it's a patronymic.

"As to the name Alberinta or possibly Almirenta, names that are so
unique that I've >begun to doubt they are Italian...".
I agree that these names look more Spanish than Italian, but the south of
Italy has been under many flags, which could have influeced the spelling
of local names.

Incidently Rebecca's husband's name, Nicola, looks like a feminine, but
it's correct for a male--it's an exception to the rule of male names
ending in "o." There is another similar name that does end with an 'o.'
It is Niccolo [with an accent over final 'o.'] They are two different
names. BTW, the given name of Machiavelli and Paganini was Niccolo

Do you know where in southern Italy Nicola CANTANTE was born or where he
married Rebecca? If so, you could try another approach: look for church
records, e.g. baptismal certificate. That would at least help --one way
or the other--to ascertain if Nicola was _not_ Jewish. If he wasn't,
chances are good that there would be a record of Nicola CANTANTE in the
local Catholic church. .The Catholic church is known for keeping good
records of it's parishiners, even in small towns. Whether the CANTANTEs
had converted to Catholicism beforehand, or were cryptic Jews is a big
unknown.

Do you know anything about the siblings of gggm Rebecca or ggm Alberinta
or Almirenta? Do you know the first names of their descendants? Do any
others have old testament biblical names? Have you tried contacting any
of the CANTANTEs in Italy?

Alan, please write to me privately if you need help drafting a boiler
plate, in Italian, for a genealogical inquiry re the CANTANTEs.

Hope this helped a bit

Les Gediman


ENZOFALCO@...
 

Alan J. Tullio, tvllivs@.... wrote

<........her name was Rebecca, a decidedly odd name for a girl born in the
Italian south in the first or second decade of the 19th Century, especially if
she were Roman Catholic.......Can anyone steer me away >from guessing and onto
more solid ground?

No solid ground, but you should be aware that there was an estimate of 25,000
Jews in Sicily in 1492 when they also became expelled or "converted." At that
time there was an estimate of 50,000 in the main part of Italy. In 1541 there
was a similar expulsion and conversion >from the Kingdom of Naples. As happened
in Spain and Portugal some converted but remained "hidden Jews" (anusim) and
kept their traditions as best as they could. One of these traditions could
have been to name children >from the Old Testament.

Enzo Falco
Sudbury, Mass.
USA
enzofalco@...


Jose Gutstein <jmg-miami@...>
 

Alan J. Tullio wrote:
Great, great grandmother Rebecca D'Elia married Nicola Cantante. His
surname
means "singer". In Italy today there are fewer than eighteen families with
this surname.
I checked the Italian Directory on the Internet and one of those 18 living
today also happens to be named Nicola Cantante. You should write to him and
see if he is named after your ancestor. It would be quite a coincidence
otherwise.

Jose Gutstein
JMG-Miami@...