The town of Zamosc, near Lublin in southeastern Poland, is important for several reasons. One is its grand synagogue built four centuries ago, and the other is that the community’s archive indicates that the founders of the Jewish community were Sephardim, refugees of the Spanish Inquisition
According to Alexander Beider, in his Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Kingdom of Poland (Avotaynu):
In 1588, Polish Chancellor Jan Zamoyski established a special privilege allowing Sephardic Jews to live in his own newly founded private town of Zamosc. (Ashkenazic Jews from neighboring towns were not authorized to settle in Zamosc.) Many advantages were offered to those Sephardic Jews who decided to move there, which prompted a number of Sephardic families to migrate to the town. …[see more below]
In the Jerusalem Post, read about the 400-year-old synagogue that is undergoing a major restoration.
The restoration work was spearheaded by Monika Krawczyk of the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland, which is responsible for safeguarding Jewish cultural, historical and religious sites throughout the country.
Monika also spoke about the Foundation’s projects at the recent 29th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy in Philadelphia.
In the article by Michael Freund, more details are revealed.
In addition to a hall that will be used for prayer services, lectures and concerts, plans call for the structure to house a tourist information center as well as a museum that will celebrate the history of the area’s Jews.
The exhibits will utilize advanced multimedia technology, and will incorporate innovative programs such as a “virtual tour” of Jewish shtetls that dotted the region before the Holocaust.
The synagogue was built between 1610-1618, and was in continuous use until the 1939 German invasion of Poland. It was damaged and later served as a carpentry workshop.
Post-war Communist Poland made it a public library.
At the beginning of Word War II, nearly half the town was Jewish, some 12,000 people.
“We have a dream that the Zamosc synagogue will be used for the holy purposes of the Jewish people,” Krawczyk said, “but the reality is what it is. I hope that Jewish groups from all over the world who visit Poland will come to see it and use it, as it is specially designed to allow the main hall to be used to hold prayers for interested groups.”
Most of the funding is from the European Economic Area and Norway Grants, established by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway to support social and economic projects throughout Europe, as well as from the World Monument Fund.
Read the complete article at the link above.
For more on the Zamosc section of Beider’s section on Sephardim in Eastern Europe (from “A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Kingdom of Poland”) click here:
Toward the end of the 16th century, they included families from the Ottoman Empire (for example, Moses, the brother of the above Abraham de Mosso Kohen, who moved from Lwow and became the first Jewish inhabitant of Zamosc [Shatzky 1957:85]) and Italy (for example, Abram Misrachi and Salomon Marcus from Venice [Balaban 1906:467]). During the first part of the 17th century, new settlers generally came from Italy and Holland, and the documents of that time cite the existence in Zamosc of families named de Campus/ Kampos, Castiell/Kastiel and Sacuto/Zakuto (Morgensztern 1961: 75,76). The records also show the arrival of Samson Manes, a Sephardic Jew from Braunschweig, Germany (Morgensztern 1962:9). After the chancellor’s death in 1605, the growth of the Sephardic community in Zamosc stopped, while during the 1620s some Ashkenazic families moved there. Without newcomers from Mediterranean countries, the little Sephardic group rapidly declined. Some of the Sephardic Jews left the area; others intermarried with Ashkenazic Jews (Morgensztern 1962:14). As a result, during the second half of the 17th century, Sephardic names do not appear in the historical documents of both Zamosc and Lwow. The census of 1664 showed only 23 Jews in Zamosc, most of whom were Ashkenazic (Morgensztern 1962:4).
For other towns and countries and their Sephardic families, read Beider’s entire section at the link above. Sephardic surnames in the article include:
HISPANUS, BEN MESHULAM, KALAHORA-KALAORA-CHOLCHORA-CALAHORRA, KOLHARI-KOLCHOR-KOLCHORY, WNOCHOWICZ/SZFARDI, VITALIS, MORPURGO, DELMEDIGO, ITALIUS, MONTALTO, LUSITANUS, FORTIS, COMENDE, MISERACHI-MISERACHY, DINIZ-DE NYES, MILLAN, ABENJACAR, CASTIEL, DIAS NUNES, DUBETENT, DE LIMA, PALLACHE, ABENSUR, MOSSO KOHEN, GAMBAI, SYDIS, PASSY, CZELEBI, SKAMPIS, MARCUS, DE CAMPUS-KAMPOS, CASTIELL-KASTIEL, SACUTO-ZAKUTO, MANES, CHARLAP, FRENK, PORTUGIES, PORTUGAL, SFARD, SZPANIERMAN, ABUHOW, ALBA, ALGAZY, AZYLUJ (AZULAY), BONDY, DYLION, KARO, ALFUS, DOMINGO, ELION, RYNALDO, ABRAVANEL-ABARBANEL.
If your family has a Sephardic oral tradition, a Sephardic surname, an Sephardic medical condition or other pointers, consider joining the IberianAshkena DNA Project at FamilyTreeDNA.com.