JewishGen Talks: Portuguese Jews: Names & History

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Tuesday April 27

2:00 PM  –  3:00 PM

The case of the so-called "Portuguese" Jews (Western Sephardim) is exceptional in the Jewish history: a mass conversion to Christianity at the end of the 15th century and a gradual return to the religion of their ancestors generations later. The debate about the reasons of this return and the degree of "Jewishness" of members of these communities (primarily in such cities as Amsterdam, London, Hamburg, Livorno, Venice, Bordeaux, and Bayonne) never ceased. Considerations of certain authors are passionate and more closely related to ideological rather than scientific factors. The analysis of names used in these communities allows to shed some (ideologically neutral) light on these complex and fascinating pages of the Jewish history.


About the Speaker

Dr. Alexander Beider has a PhD in applied mathematics, and a second PhD in the domain of Jewish studies. Beider uses onomastics and linguistics as tools allowing to unravel the history of the Jewish people. He has written a series of reference books dealing with the etymology of Jewish surnames. Beider is also the designer of the linguistic part of the Beider-Morse Phonetic Matching method of computer-based searches for equivalent surnames.