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September 13, 1963 - Image 41

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1963-09-13

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.


(Copyright, 1963,
Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Inc.)

LIMA, Peru.—Several months
ago, Michael Simon, Israel Am-
bassador in Lima, received a
letter from the "Committee of
Women for the Restoration of
the Church of Holy Mary in Cel-
ledin." The ladies, residents of
Lima but originally from Cel-
ledin, greeted the. Ambassador
and the State of Israel and ap-
pealed for a contribution to
their fund, explaining that they
were descendants of "Portu-
guese Jews."
This, in itself, was not sur-
prising. Jews contributed to the
expedition of Columbus leading
to the discovery of America
and it is assumed that they
hoped to be able in the New
World to shed their forcibly ac-
quired Catholic religion and re-
sume living as Jews. The speed
with which the Inquisition fol-
lowed the Conquistadors was a
bitter disappointment to them.
Instead of reverting to Judaism,
they had to continue to hide
their faith and were slowly
assimilated in the Christian
population. In practically every
South American country some
of the best families claim to
have at least one "Marano" an-
cestor—and the fact is usually
mentioned with considerable
pride by his descendants.
However, there are also many
thousands in the small towns
and villages, including Indians
and Mestizos, who seem to have
a Jewish past. There are some
observers who believe that
these "descendants of Maranos"
are not actually of Jewish ori-
gin but are from the families
of the native servants and slaves
who belonged to the households
of Marano masters.

In villages where some of
the population claims Marano
descent, one can see children
with blue eyes, blond hair,
light skin. And some of the
older men have rather patri-
archic looking beards—a very
uncommon feature among
pure-blooded Indians. Many
of them declare that they
know from their fathers or
grandfathers that they are of
Jewish descent.

This, obviously, was the case
when Ambassador Simon arriv-
ed for a visit to Celledin, a
town of 7,000 residents, a few
hundred hard-to-traverse miles
from Lima. The Ambassador
took with him a book on Marano
family names and found that
the ten most common names in
the town were among the 16
names listed as most frequent
among Maranos: Perez, Espin-
oza, Castro, Perera, Ventura,
Calderon, Medina, Moreno, Val-
ero, Prado; and others were
families with typical Hebrew

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Some of the Jews of Recife
fled toward the unaccessible
regions in the West, when the
city was reoccupied by the

The title rabbi, given to those the head of the Sanhedrin (i.e.
who are designated as spiritual "Out mast e r.") The title
"Rabbi" (my master) is said to
leaders of the Jewish Commu- have been first used by the
nities, is derived from a He- disciples of Rabbi Johanan ben
brew noun "Rab." In Biblical Zakkai. In general the title was
Hebrew the noun meant "great indicative of ordination enab-
or distinguished" — Thus ling its bearer to pass judg-
"Rabbi" might be translated as ment, either originally as a
"my great one" or "my dis- member of the Sanhedrin, or
tinguished one." It might also later as a member of an acad-
be associated with the meaning emy of learning or as a spiritual
of "much" or "more" indicating leader of a community.
that the individual so desig-
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nated had "much" or "more"
learning. In post-Biblical He-
brew the term "Rab" came to
mean "master" (in contradis-
tinction to "slave".) Thus the
expression "Rabbi" has often
been translated literally as
"my master." This title was not
known before the 1st century of
Expertly Fitted
the Common Era. The first to
have been given this title is
to be Rabb Gamliel the
Mr. and Mrs. Henry Feldman, claimed
elder. This form of the title,
Parking in Rear
24231 Majestic, Oak Park, were "Rabban," was given only to
honored by their children in a
50th wedding anniversary din-
ner party at the Sheraton
Cadillac Hotel for their family
and friends.
Residential and Commercial
The Feldmans were married
in Detroit on Aug. 24, 1913. Mr.
Professional Member N.S.I.D.
(National Society of Interior Designers)
Feldman has lived here all his
Lincoln 1-1953
life. His wife was born in Lithu-
ania, came to the United States
Lincoln 7-8858
in 1900 and settled in Detroit
in 1910. They began the Liver-
nois Davison Florist Shop in
1935 and are still active in busi-
Invites You to Visit Her at the
Mr. and Mrs. Feldman have
four children, Irvin, Blanche
Haas, Rhoda Shuman and Dr.
Robert Feldman; eight grand-
children and four great-grand-
Now Located at



Too many saints in a name
also often indicate Marano ori-
gin, presumably showing an ef-
fort to distract attention from
Jewish past. Anybody named
`Todos-Santos" is as likely as
not to be of Marano descent
and a place called "Vera Cruz"
(True Cross) was probably heav-
ily populated by "New Chris-
tians." In the town of Ctuz, in
Peru, there are good Catholic
families where the wife lights
two candles every Friday night;
some light the candles in the
dining room, but some do it—in
the cellar! They don't know the
reason, except that they learned
it from their mothers, who
learned it from their mothers,
-etc., etc. And the Hebrew sound-
ing names keep cropping up in
most far-away places among the
native population. The name of
People say: If a male dog
the mayor in Montero is Rocca-
Sela, the Spanish and the He- barks at thee, enter; if a female
dog, depart. (The female of the
brew words for "rock."
The recent mayor of Inqui- species is more deadly than
tos, Peru's port on the Ama- the male.)—The Talmud.

zon river, was Ben Zaken.
When the Israel Ambassador
passed through a small town-
ship in Bolivia, the entire
population waited along the
highway, welcomed him sing-
ing the "Hatikvah" which
they learned somehow, and
explained that they knew they
all were descendants of Jews.

The situation is more con-
fused in Southern Chile, where
there are several small groups
claiming Jewish descent. They
are all farmers, they observe
the Sabbath and many of them
want to go to Israel. (Some
youngsters from among them
actually went to Israel and set-
tled in kibbutzim.) Most of them
live in the towns of Cumpaca
and Canco and vicinity. One
group, which considers itself
Jewish in all matters, claims
descent from Maranos who serv-
ed in the Spanish army and re-
turned to Judaism. They ob-
serve Rosh Hashana, Yom Kip-
pur and Passover, and when an
important Jewish visitor arrives,
they welcome him with the
sounds of "Hatikva," played
on guitars. They even buy the
"Shekel" and send delegates to
Zionist conferences in Santiago.
Another group, which also
claims to be Jewish, actually
professes Christianity, but con-
siders the Old Testament the
holier of the Scriptures. The
third group accepts all basic
tenets of Catholicism, except
that it believes in the Second
Coming of the Messiah who will
take them all to Zion.
The interest of these groups
in Israel is not something new,
something that was born after
the establishment of the State.
One of the most prized posses-
sions proudly shown by one of
the elders is a document prov-
ing that a representative of the
South Chilean "Jews" attended
the first South American Zion-
ist Convention in 1919.

How pleasant it is for a father
to sit at his child's board. It is
like an aged man reclining un-
der the shadow of an oak which
he has planted."—Sir Walter

by Phil Morganroth



In The


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names: Ables, Danon, Alkalai
and others.
According to the local tradi-
tion, the ancestors lived in Re-
cife, in north-east Brazil, and
when the Portuguese re-took
the city from the Dutch, some
of the Jews fled westward to
escape the Inquisition and set-
tled, founding Celledin which,
they hoped, would be sufficient-
ly far away also from the In-
quisition of Lima. The story
seems to be confirmed by the
fact that some of the signatures
on ancient land deals in Celle-
din spell the name Joseph
"Josef," with an "f" at the end
as in Hebrew, and not 'Jose"
as in Spanish.

Give Derivation of the Title Rabbi

Henry Feldmans
Mark 50th Date

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4 ,

41 -- THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS — Friday, Sept. 13, .1963

`Jewish' Indians in South America

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