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Thread: General Sephardic Genetics/History

  1. #621
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam1989 View Post
    Do we know how big was this Jewish community in Sicily and south Italy before the expulsion and how many stayed and converted?
    Specifically regarding this question, and again according to Beider (from his video on Jews in Italy), more than half of Italian Jews prior to the expulsions of the late 15th/early 16th centuries lived in Sicily, with a Jewish population of 25,000. The rest of Southern Italy had a combined Jewish population of 11,700 and Northern Italy 10,100.

    The Jewish Virtual Library (https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org...h-history-tour) claims that 40,000 Jews left Sicily, but I find this hard to believe. It's almost as large as Beider's estimate for the Jewish population of the whole of Italy. While Beider's estimate is probably on the conservative side, this would mean that the Jewish population of 15th century Sicily was even greater than 40,000, since a good portion of the population converted.

    Sara Reguer (Academic Studies Press, 2013), says the following:

    Presuming that there were about 30,000-40,000 in 1492, perhaps half converted, and the rest left Sicily, mainly for the Kingdom of Naples. But there was a bout of the plague in Naples in 1493, followed by a French invasion the following year. This combination of factors spurred many more Jews not only to convert, but to return to Sicily, where they attempted to regain their property.
    I doubt there are solid figures for the number of Jews that left Southern Italy. The Ottoman Empire was the main external destination, but a number also went north. I'm sure it's also complicated because there was likely the same staggered immigration effect that we see out of Iberia, where some of the converts who initially remained ultimately decided to leave, while others who left to avoid conversion ultimately decided to return.

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  3. #622
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    Quote Originally Posted by passenger View Post
    Good questions. I'll see if I can find some more statistics. For the Ottoman Empire, there are already some in Beider's video:

    33/232 Jewish households in Adrianople/Edirne in 1519 belonged to the "Apulia" congregation.
    Out of 719 Jewish households in Safed in 1555/1556, 29 belonged to the "Talian" congregation, 24 to "Calabria" and 21 to "Apulia".
    In Salonica/Thessaloniki in 1530, out of 2506 Jewish households 846 belonged to one of the Italian congregations (Sicilia, Calabria, Apulia, Talian and Otranto)
    In Constantinople/Istanbul in 1603, 209/2106 households belonged to one of the Italian congregations (Sicilia, Messina and Calabria)

    I'm less confident about the picture painted by the figures for Istanbul, since at that later date I'm not sure how accurately the names of the congregations reflect the origins of the community (considering people switched between congregations), but I think most of those figures give us a fairly good idea of the proportion of Southern Italian Jews in Ottoman communities of the 16th century, following the expulsions from Sicily and Naples. Of course things are more complicated, because there was also some back migration to Italy, as well as later migration from Italy to the Ottoman Empire, especially from Livorno and Venice.

    Another question is how much of the "Italian" percentage that Sephardim score is a reflection of Italki heritage, and how much of it comes from other Jewish sources which read as "Italian" but which are not derived from populations that lived in Italy at any point in the last millennium. I'm pretty sure that the "Italian" scored by Eastern Sephardim comes from multiple sources. North African Sephardim also frequently score "Italian" in ethnicity breakdowns, and that's probably even less directly derived from Italkim.
    Thanks for the interesting info. Yes, I'm Also sure that not all of the italian that aperas in the results is from Italki jews and there are many other sources but maybe this source is underestimated.

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  5. #623
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    At the moment, I'm looking a little bit at the demographics of the Sephardic community in Amsterdam, from which I partly descend.

    What is known about their origins? The literature tells me that the first wave came from Portugal from the 1590s onward, mainly from the Porto area. During the 1630s, several emigrated to Brazil, but returned to Amsterdam in the 1650s. Immigration from Portugal remained strong and was still present during the early 18th century. During the mid-17th century, new immigration waves from Spain and Venice came to Amsterdam and several families had left Antwerp too. Other places from which migrants arrived or went to were London, Hamburg, Livorno, Bayonne (and the southwest of France). Occasionally migrants came from Morocco and the Ottoman Empire (Salonica, Jerusalem). The initial peak of the Sephardic community in Amsterdam lay in the first quarter of the 18th century. It is estimated that the total population was at least 3000 during that period. A long decline followed (with a lot of emigration to especially London) until the first part of the 19th century. Afterwards, the numbers grew again, because of natural growth, perhaps also due to exogamy with the Ashkenazim, until WW2.

    From what I can see from the marriage records (I think I might write a short article on that, I just need time to really sit down for it), mixed Sephardic/Ashkenazi marriage were very rare before 1800, although they occurred a few times. Some immigrants from Venice may have, although belonging to a Sephardic community, brought Ashkenazi ancestry with them too. During the first decades of the 1800s already 1/8 of the marriages seems to have been between Sephardic men and Ashkenazi women, additionally a few of the men had Christian spouses. During the first quarter of the 20th century, more than 3/4 of the Sephardic bridegrooms took an Ashkenazic wife (I haven't yet taken a look at the Sephardic brides that took an Ashkenazic partner - they generally went to their husbands synagogue - or to those who left the religion all together). Of the less than 1/4 couples during the early 20th century, where both the bridegroom and bride were Sephardic, many were half or three-quarter Ashkenazi as well. Some of the Ashkenazi brides had a Sephardic ancestor. In a very few cases, marriages still occurred where both the bridegroom and bride had 8 Sephardic great-grandparents (generally the most well-to-do families). I'm not done with the research yet, perhaps there are more. Whether any "full" or "almost-full" (Western) Sephardic Jews from this community survived the war or are still alive, is a very good question. I will give an update if I have more interesting information.
    Last edited by Pylsteen; 06-26-2021 at 07:43 PM.

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  7. #624
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pylsteen View Post
    At the moment, I'm looking a little bit at the demographics of the Sephardic community in Amsterdam, from which I partly descend...
    Very interesting stuff.

    I've moved your post to this general Sephardic thread, since I think it's a bit off-topic for the big Western Jewish thread (even though there's a lot of different stuff there by now!).

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  9. #625
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pylsteen View Post
    At the moment, I'm looking a little bit at the demographics of the Sephardic community in Amsterdam, from which I partly descend.

    What is known about their origins? The literature tells me that the first wave came from Portugal from the 1590s onward, mainly from the Porto area. During the 1630s, several emigrated to Brazil, but returned to Amsterdam in the 1650s. Immigration from Portugal remained strong and was still present during the early 18th century. During the mid-17th century, new immigration waves from Spain and Venice came to Amsterdam and several families had left Antwerp too. Other places from which migrants arrived or went to were London, Hamburg, Livorno, Bayonne (and the southwest of France). Occasionally migrants came from Morocco and the Ottoman Empire (Salonica, Jerusalem). The initial peak of the Sephardic community in Amsterdam lay in the first quarter of the 18th century. It is estimated that the total population was at least 3000 during that period. A long decline followed (with a lot of emigration to especially London) until the first part of the 19th century. Afterwards, the numbers grew again, because of natural growth, perhaps also due to exogamy with the Ashkenazim, until WW2.

    From what I can see from the marriage records (I think I might write a short article on that, I just need time to really sit down for it), mixed Sephardic/Ashkenazi marriage were very rare before 1800, although they occurred a few times. Some immigrants from Venice may have, although belonging to a Sephardic community, brought Ashkenazi ancestry with them too. During the first decades of the 1800s already 1/8 of the marriages seems to have been between Sephardic men and Ashkenazi women, additionally a few of the men had Christian spouses. During the first quarter of the 20th century, more than 3/4 of the Sephardic bridegrooms took an Ashkenazic wife (I haven't yet taken a look at the Sephardic brides that took an Ashkenazic partner - they generally went to their husbands synagogue - or to those who left the religion all together). Of the less than 1/4 couples during the early 20th century, where both the bridegroom and bride were Sephardic, many were half or three-quarter Ashkenazi as well. Some of the Ashkenazi brides had a Sephardic ancestor. In a very few cases, marriages still occurred where both the bridegroom and bride had 8 Sephardic great-grandparents (generally the most well-to-do families). I'm not done with the research yet, perhaps there are more. Whether any "full" or "almost-full" (Western) Sephardic Jews from this community survived the war or are still alive, is a very good question. I will give an update if I have more interesting information.
    you can contact Ton Tielen and other experts on facebook Western sephardic groups. There was a ban on mixed Sephardic Ashkenazic marriages i think until 19th century. In case a Sephardic woman married Ashkenazic man, she had to change her community. It seems from the marriage records and surnames that perhaps 1/3 of people were not directly of converso origin like from Morocco, Italy and Ottoman lands.
    Last edited by eolien; 06-27-2021 at 09:28 PM.

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    I know him from some family history discussions; as for the surnames, besides the Sephardic families outside of Spain/Portugal who kept their family names, many of the conversos also returned to pre-conversos Hebrew/Arabic-type of names (e.g. Homem called themselves Abendana, De Paz became Aboab, Fernandes became Abarbanel, all Portugese families); in some cases these would have been their original surnames, in other cases, the original surname was not remembered anymore. Some families added Cohen or Levy to their names, after being already a few generations in Amsterdam. It is difficult to judge how far their memory of pre-conversion times went back, and how much is the result of hearsay family stories.

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  13. #627
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pylsteen View Post
    I know him from some family history discussions; as for the surnames, besides the Sephardic families outside of Spain/Portugal who kept their family names, many of the conversos also returned to pre-conversos Hebrew/Arabic-type of names (e.g. Homem called themselves Abendana, De Paz became Aboab, Fernandes became Abarbanel, all Portugese families); in some cases these would have been their original surnames, in other cases, the original surname was not remembered anymore. Some families added Cohen or Levy to their names, after being already a few generations in Amsterdam. It is difficult to judge how far their memory of pre-conversion times went back, and how much is the result of hearsay family stories.
    If you haven't checked it out yet, you should watch Beider's video on Portuguese Jewish surnames, which I posted a couple pages back in this thread. There's some good information there.

    Regarding your observations on the Amsterdam Sephardic community in your previous post, your characterization of the community seems pretty accurate from what I know. Could you share some of the sources you've been using? The only thing that's slightly different from what I remember reading before is the timing of when the community reached its peak population. IIRC, Miriam Bodian (in Hebrews of the Portuguese Nation) claims that this peak was reached in the last quarter of the seventeenth century and that the community declined demographically throughout the eighteenth. Anyway, I think her numbers are similar, and it doesn't make a huge difference.

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    I haven't watched the whole thing yet, but I figured I'd post this here:



    The actual Sephardic content only starts at around 41:00. The first part is a basic overview of uniparentals and early Jewish history.

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    FYI, I changed the name of this thread, since it's moved far beyond the original topic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by passenger View Post
    I haven't watched the whole thing yet, but I figured I'd post this here:



    The actual Sephardic content only starts at around 41:00. The first part is a basic overview of uniparentals and early Jewish history.
    Thanks for this, I'm off to watch. Adam Brown is part of the Avotaynu project. I have corresponded with him in the past and he seems to be very knowledgeable.

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