According to a well spread legend, the Porges surname would be of sephardic origin, or derived from Portuges.

Some believe that the Porges families originated in Spain and moved in 1492 further to the Inquisition.
(The Expulsion from Spain, 1492 CE)

However all of the above is a "best guess" theory rather than a founded explanation.

Many clues let believe that the name originated in Prague.

Alexander Beider, the renowned genealogist and historian of Jewish surnames has a trustworthy theory, displayed below.

Prague
Jewish Surnames from Prague (15th - 18th centuries), by Alexander Beider
Postings about the origin of the name
What is mentioned in DARKE ZION by Moses ben Israel Naphtaly Hirsch Porges (1650)

 

  PRAGUE

Clue #1

The presence of Porges families in Prague in 1600

Aaron B. Benjamin Porges (Porjes) (b. 1650 Prague)
Moses ben Israel Naphtaly Hirsch Porges (b. ca 1600 Prague, d. 1670 Jerusalem)
Shmuel ben Leib Porges scribe of the Jewish community of Bonzlau (Bohemia) ca 1730
Joseph ben Judah Loeb Porges ca 1670

For the full story about the above Scholars, click here.

 

Clue #2 254 Porges were deported from Prague to the camp of Terezin in 1941/42.

More : Porges victims of the holocaust.
Clue #3 The New Jewish Cemetery of Prague (established in 1891) has a record of 138 Porges burials between 1890 and 1975.
Click here for names and photos


Jewish surnames from PRAGUE( 15th - 18th century)
by Alexander Beider

Alexander Beider has been studying the etymology and geographic distribution of Jewish surmanes from Eastern Europe for nearly ten years.

His first major work in this area, A Dictionary of Jewish Surmanes from the Russian Empire (Teaneck, NJ : Avoyatnu, 1993), has received critical acclaim.

Dr Beider's articles relationg to Jewish surnames have been published in Avoyatnu : The International Review of Genealogy and in Onomastica, the Polish Journal of Onomastics.

He has lectured at a number of Jewish genalogical seminars on the subject of Jewish surnames.

Dr Beider was born in 1963 in Moscow.

In 1986 he graduated from the Moscow Physico-Technical Institute, and in 1989 he received his Ph. D. in applied mathematics from the same institution.

He currently works as a computer systems analyst in Paris.

This short encyclopedic work identifies 700 surnames from the ancient city of Prague from the 15th to 18th centuries.

Available from Avotaynu.com http://www.avotaynu.com/books2.htm#prague
Copyright © 1995 Alexander Beider


Beider's explanation for PORGES :

Purye

Jewish women from Prague used numerous hypocoristic forms as given names.

Unlike the case with masculine given names, shortened forms were quite rare, although forms with diminutive suffixes were very common.

Some surmanes coincide with feminine given names :

PURYE (Buria)1573 : Hypocoristic form of Biblical Zipporah (Exodus 2:16)
[Metronymic form : PORJES (Porias, Paris, PORGES, Borges, Borgis)]

In old German sources, the letter G was sometimes used instead of J (pronounced as english Y after the voyels)

The Purje name is mentioned in B. Bondy-F. Dvorsky
"K Historii zidu v Cechach, na Morave a v slensku (906 az 1620)" Prague 1906. (1:362)


Metronymic surnames are formed by adding the suffix "s" to the feminine given name.

Hypocoristic : (from Greek Hypokorisma) to call by pet name / or by diminutive name

 

The Purjesz Family by Ilana Burgess


The Purjesz family is a classic example of the forced "wandering Jew".
They most probably originated somewhere in ancient Israel, exiled 2000+ years ago and had to move from one country to the other in search of a safe haven.
At some stage they made their home in Spain and during the inquisition moved into Central Europe.
My branch of the family settled in Hungary in the 18th century.
Most of the family was murdered during the Holocaust.
My mother survived and made her home in Israel where I was born.
Back to the original starting point - a full circle.
According to the family legend, they lived in Burgos Spain and were forced to leave in 1492.
Some managed to escape before or during the inquisition and settled in Italy.
Other members of the family converted to Christianity and managed to leave after 1492.
In Italy the anusim were able to be converted back to Judaism.
Some members of the family moved from Italy to Turkey, Bulgaria, Temeszvar Romania and then finally settled in Hungary.
The first record I have of a Purjesz in Hungary is Adam Purjesz.
I've found out recently that Adam Purjesz name was Adam Burjes and was changed to Purjesz in the late 1700's or early 1800's.
Adam Purjesz According to the story, Adam Purjesz was still in possession of the Spanish family crest.
The family name was very important to them and so was their Spanish heritage.
My mother told me that her mother and grandmother followed many Sephardic traditions while living in an Ashkenazi community.
Over the two decades in Hungary the family became prominent and included many physicians, lawyers, bankers, business people, politician and officers in the Austro Hungarian army.

 

Jewish Surnames in Prague
(15th-18th Centuries)

By Alexander Beider

Before the end of the 18th century, most Ashkenazic Jews did not have hereditary family names.
In Hebrew documents the traditional forms X ben Y (X son of y) and X bat Y (X daughter of y) were used as the primary naming patterns.
In German documents, the principal pattern was X Y, meaning "X son of Y";
examples are : Itzig Abraham (ltzig, the son of Abraham), Marcus Nathan and Moses Israel. Jews who lived in Poland generally were called either by their given names or by their given names plus patronymics formed by adding the suffix owicz to the given name of their fathers.

In some places in Europe, however, Jews regularly used surnames in the 16th to 18th centuries, several hundred years before Ashkenazic Jews generally were forced to adopt surnames.
Perhaps the most representative of these rare exceptions was the Jewish community of Prague, the capital of Bohemia.
Even before 1787, a very large number of Jewish families in Prague were using hereditary family names.
At the end of the 18th century , Bohemia, together with Moravia, Austria, Hungary and Galicia, were part of the Hapsburg Empire.
When the edict signed by Emperor Joseph II (1787) forced all Jews living within the borders of the Empire to adopt surnames, many Prague Jews (in contrast to most Jews from other regions) simply kept the surnames they had been using up to then.
[Dozens of these surnames were still in existence after the Holocaust.
For example, in the list of survivors from the camp of Teresienstadt (Terezin) [Terezin Ghetto. Prague, 1945] we find among others such names, typical for Prague's Jewish community since several centuries : Abelis, Auspitz, Austerlitz, Back, Bendiner, Bondi, Boskowitz, Brandeis, Bunzel, Dewidels, Dux, Eidlitz, Elbogen, Fanta, Graf, Grotte, Hammerschlag, Ippen, Jeiteles, Kafka, Karpelis, Kauders, Kla(u)ber, Knina, Koref, Kuh, Leipen, Meisel(s), Melnik, Muneles, Nachod, Neugroeschl, Pick, Popper, Porges, Prossnitz, Ranschburg, Redisch, Sabatka and Sobotka, Schick, Schidlof, Schulhof, Sugdol, Tachau, Taussig, Teplitz, Teweles, Thein, Thorsch, Trebitsch, Tritsch, Utitz, Wahl, Wehle, Winternitz.]

Since the surnames of Prague's Jewry represent one of the oldest layers of Ashkenazic surnames, they are of particular interest.
Due to important Jewish population in Prague and frequent migrations these names became widespread in Central Europe.

[In 1703, 11.517 Jews lived in Prague representing about one third of the total population (Wischnitzer, 169).
Some of Jewish migrations were caused by economic reasons.
Others were forced, however.
For example, in 1745 a general expulsion of Prague's Jews took place.
Another reason for migrations was the anti-Jewish legislation of Charles VI (1725-1726).
According to these laws, a number of tolerated Jewish families in Bohemia in total was restricted to 8.541.
As a result, only the eldest sons in Jewish families were permitted to get married, while all their younger brothers had to migrate when they wanted to have their proper family.]

The book "Jewish Surnames in Prague (15th - 18th Centuries)" considers the surnames of Prague Jews found primarily in three books with representative lists, those by Hock, FreudenthaI and Bondy-Dvorsky .
Hock's book is a compilation of tombstone inscriptions from the old Jewish cemetery in Prague, dating from the 15th to the 18th centuries.
Since all inscriptions are in the Hebrew language, this source provides surnames written in Hebrew letters.
In some cases, the Latin alphabet spelling is given in footnotes.
Freudenthal's book, on the other hand, gives only German spelling for surnames.
That source lists the Jewish visitors to the famous Leipzig fair from 1675 to 1764.
Most documents in the book compiled by Bondy and Dvorsky are written in Czech.
Hence, this book is a principal source for surnames of Prague Jews given in Czech spelling.
Almost all the Czech documents date from the end of the 15th century through 1620.

Below, the German and the Jewish spelling of surnames will be given, followed by an indication of the year when this spelling is mentioned for the first time in one of the three sources.

Although many Prague Jews used family names, the status of these names was not the same as that of contemporary surnames.
Before the end of the 18th century, Jews were under no obligation to have surnames ; no law requiring surnames had yet been proclaimed.
Therefore, names used at this time should be considered as nicknames, rather than surnames, in the contemporary meaning of this word.
The lack of legislation concerning surnames made it possible for fathers and sons to have different surnames.
Children could adopt a mother's surname, or even choose an absolutely new name, which might or might not be inherited by their descendants.
Sometimes Jewish men adopted the names of their fathers-in-law as their own.

As result of the lack of legislation concerning Jewish surnames, spellings of surnames were not fixed, and in many families, several variations of the same surname were used in tandem.
For example, in different German sources, such pairs of surnames were applied to the same families : Fraenckel and Frenkel, Maisel and Meisel, Perlhäfter and Perlhöffer, Ginsburg and Ginsburger.
In addition, the surnames used in the same families depend at this time on the language in which a source is written.
The number of people for whom a surname is specified on a tombstone is far greater than the number of those called only by given names and patronymics : in Hock's book there are 387 pages with surnamed persons and only 13 pages with persons without surnames.
On the other hand, in German sources (for example, in Freudenthal's book) numerous individuals are called by given names followed only by the given names of their fathers.
Interestingly, for some surnames of Prague Jews, the Hebrew, German and Czech spelling are related to each other semantically, but not phonetically.
This becomes evident when one considers surnames in which the different language spellings are direct translations of the other.

TYPES OF SURNAMES

Following are the types of Jewish surnames used in Prague :

1. surnames indicating Kohen or Levite origin.

2. surnames derived from toponyms.

3. surnames taken from masculine given names.

4. surnames drawn from feminine given names.

5. occupational surnames.

6. surnames derived from personal characteristics.

7. surnames based on house signs.

8. acronymic surnames.

 

 

Daniel Dov Polakovic (Prague) is the author of a thesis on
"Darke Zion by Moshe Israel ben Naftali Porges"

"I want only to add that I wrote a diploma on the work of Rabbi Moshe b. Naftali Porit (Porges) "Darkhey Tziyon" (1650) including a complete translation of this work from the original prints (Jerusalem, Oxford) with the remarks, and added with the short study on Porges family in the 15th-17th century in Prague. The original name of this work is: "Mose Jisrael b. Naftali Porit (Porges) a jeho dielo Darchej Cijon (1650)" (Moshe Israel b. Naftali Porit (Porges) and his work Darkhey Tziyon (1650)) and is completly in Czech, 94 pp., 19 tbs. The first chapter was published in complete Czech translation in "Zidovska rocenka" (The Jewish annual) in Prague 2000.
With the best wishes,
Yours sincerely,


In 2003, Dan Polakovic provided a copy of his work, and Edita Atteck, a member of the von Portheim family, kindly translated the Porges related excerpts from Czech to English.

Thesis at the Charles University in Prague, department of Middle East and Africa, written in the summer of 2000 by Dan Polakovic.

Page 5
Title of the thesis is “Mose b. Jisrael Naftali Porges: Darchej Cijon (1650)”
( “Darchej Cijon means “Roads to Sion”).

  • It’s not a classical Jewish itinerary from the Middle Ages, however, rather a “manual” for Jewish immigrants searching for peace and home where their home once used to be – in Erec Israel.
  • The author of the book, Mose Porges, wasn’t the only Jew in the 16/17th century in the Czech land who traveled to the sacred land and left behind the message of that time. Rachel, a Prague’s Jew, wrote letters to her father about life in Jerusalem at the end of the 16th century…


Page 29-34

  • Very little is known about the biographical details of Mose Porges.
  • Mose came from Prague, worked in Jerusalem (he likely settled there in the first half of the 17th century). According to some authors, he was also a direct companion/partner? of rabbi Horovitz on the trip to Erec Israel in 1621.
  • He assembled his book as a letter and was likely selling it himself during visits in Diaspora.
  • Some authors assumed that he returned to Europe in 1649 (Prague, Germany), where he assembled and published this book.
  • His father, Jisrael Naftali called Hirsh was a rabbi.
  • His brother, Gutman Porit, also settled in Erec Israel. Another relative, Jesaja H-Levi Horovic.
  • Bibliotheca Hebreaea from 1733 mentions M. Porges as the author of Darchej Cion.
  • Hebrew literature from the first half of the 18th century mentions two authors with name “Mose ben Jisrael – one worked as a rabbi in Rhodose and Alexandria, the other worked in Wurzburg.
  • Porges family in Prague is registered until half of the 17th century as “Purja-Pfefferkorn (on the tombstones) and from the end of 17th century with altered female version of the name “Porit”. This name was preserved in the non-Jewish and non-Hebrew sources given the influence of German pronunciation in the form of “Porges or Porjes, Pories, Porias, Purges, Borges, Borgis, Burges, etc. and remained in this form till today.
  • The oldest notes about this family is in the listing of members of the family of rabbi Meir ben Natan Purja-Pfefferkorn in the directory of Jewish families owning a letter of safe-conduct in 1546.
  • Meir ben Natan was likely a physician and had ten children: sons Jicchak, Gutman, Eliezer, Natan, David, Jehuda, Jona, Mose, Jaakov and daughter Cipora. Some of his children have their name as the original dual name Purja-Pfefferkorn on tombstones, however, majority has only the shortened version of Purja or Porit. Their successor didn’t use the name Pfefferkorn and after 1639, this name is no longer mentioned nor is it found on tombstones.
  • There are several theories of the origin of the name Porit or Porges: 1. The current users of the name emphasize this hypothesis – it originated in Spain, when Jews were forced to leave in 1492 and they moved to Germany and the Czech land. This theory has no support in remaining onomastick (?) sources. 2. Name originated from female name Cipora; 3. Name originated from the German name of Prague – Prag, Prager, Prags.
  • The Porges family belonged to the oldest Jewish nobility in the Austrian monarchy. Brothers Moses (1781-1870) and Leopold Juda (1784-1869), both businessmen in the field of cotton manufacturing and owners of factories in Smichov (note: Smichov is a part of Prague) received title of “Porges von Portheim” in 1841 from Ferdinand in 1841.
  • In 1892, Simon Hock published a list of 205 tombstones of the Porges family members from years 1573-1787 (it's only a preview of the names, often without all data from the tombstones).
  • The real number according to Dr. Otto Munels (1892-1967) is over 300 tombstones. He estimates 313 tombstones, 16 without details. The most of tombstones are from 1639, the so-called “plague years”. The smaller cemetery on Fibich street in Prague had 39 tombstones in good condition from years 1792-1890 (this was noted during 1960s).
  • The author’s father was rabbi Zvi named Hirsh b. Selomo Porit (Porges). He functioned as a “dayan” (Dayan is a rabbi who is judge in a rabbinical court (Beit Din)) of the Jewish religious community in Prague. He died on 31 Aug-1639 in Prague. His tombstone indicates that he was very knowledgeable, respected elder (old man). His wife Ciperl (Cipora) died on 28 Jul-1646. They had several children: son Mose (author of the book), Gutman, Abraham, and daughter Sejla (wife of Abraham Bondy).
  • Abraham Porit worked as a rabbi in Kolin in the middle of the 17th century and later as a “dajan” in Prague. He died 14-Dec-1673 in Prague.
  • Gutman Porit became a dayan in 1646. His wife Dina died in 1649 in Prague.

 

 


Three Internet postings about the origin of the name

Date: Mon, 10 Apr 2000 19:11:41

From: ragnargoran@hotmail.com

Subject : Origin of PORGES family name

If Alexander Beider is right, one cannot conclude the name Porges comes from the similarity to the spanish town name Burgos.
Where does this leave us with the theory of a sephardic origin?
Of course, the family may still have it's roots in Spain, but the theory has to be proven otherwise.
In his book "A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames in the Russian Empire" Beider defines
 hypocorastic: "Colloquial or intimate form derived from the base (full) form of a given name."
and metronymic: "Derived from a woman's name.".

In my swedish Bible, I find "Zipporah" not in Exodus 2:16, but in 2:21.

So we have
1: the spanish connection
2: the butcher thing
3: the "Child of the blessing" (message 37)
4: the derivation from Zipporah

How to value the probability of all Porgeses being interrelated?
How to explain the frequency of Porgeses in the Bohemian area?

Are there similar concentrations of Porias, Paris or Borgis in other areas and if so, are there any proofs of the topographic origin of those branches?

Ragnar Göran, Sweden

From: "Gyorgy Ujlaki" (ujlaki_gyorgy@hotmail.com)

Dear list members!

I received an e-mail from Prague, one of the centers of PORGES.

I think it might be of interest to all, so I will share it with you!

***********************

Kedves Gyuri!
Thank you very much for your report.

Apologize me that I respond so later. The Porges family lived there from I think the 15th century. Itõs wonderful!

Because I work on the history of Porges (Purja, Porit, Porjes) family in Prague in the 15th-18th century.

I completed about 200 tombstones of the members of this family in Pragueõs Old Cemetery (15th-18th century) and Cemetery at Fibichova St. (18th-19th century).

Further the data from Liber Judaeorum, the historical materials in the State Archives etc.

I finish a diploma work :
"Moshe b. Jisrael Naphtali Porit (Porges): Darkhe Tziyon (1650)", for that reason I am interested in this family too.

Because I have access to the complete catalogue of the tombstones of Prague Old Jewish cemetery, I can help you to finding the roots of your family.

With best regards,

Dan April 2000

On December 30, 2005, we received the following letter from Mose Sammetz (Czech Republic)

Hello,
My humble opinion is, that the origin is indeed in Portugal.
It is quite accepted tradition, that the title Von Portheim means from Oporto.
Porges most probably means Portugues.
Regarding many "scientific" explanations I just want to point, that they often ignore the traditions and very much depend on personal wishes of the author.
There was another Jewish linguistics professor from Russia living in Prague, who claimed that original language of local Jews was "Slavic".
The point is, that you can build almost any theory you wish, with few hard facts.
For example, there are people, who promulgate theories about "mass conversions to Judaism" of non Catholics after the Bila Hora battle, which was the beginning of recatholisation of Bohemia/Moravia in the 17th century.
Supposedly, the Jews bearing Czech surnames should be descendants of these converts.
Of course, no proof at all for this claims. But they persist and even in The Prague Jewish Museum you can hear from the guides, that Horovitz/Horovsky  family descends from these Czech Protestants/Hussites.
Incidentally, I had the luck to see the genealogy of this family and behold, its original place of exile was in Narbonne area, from whence the ancestor moved to Bohemia and the surname Horovitz is derived, of course, from the town called Horovice.
Many Jewish families in Czech lands have traditions of Spanish or Italian descent. Even families like Pollak or Lasch. One of quite typical Jewish surnames was Bondy, which is Bongiorno/Yom tov, in addition to Porges, there have been many Borges and many other non German/Yiddish or Czech surnames, like Allina, Alferi and so.     
Simply, many people have an agenda - they don't believe Jews have common origins, they don't believe Jews have right to the Land of Israel, they don't believe David ever lived and if so, that he was mighty and powerful king, they don't believe in G-d.
They are inventing theories - we have the Khazar story (propagated by Hungarian assimilationist to convince Hungarians they are their blood relatives and not  foreign element), we had all kinds of claims about mass conversions of  "ancient Kurds", "ancient Arabs", "ancient Persians" and who know who else of these ancient "real peoples"; we have now more popular theories about the Berber origins of Maghreb Jews.
All this to build a rift between various Jewish groups, who thanks to assimilation and secularism are already strangers to each other and to their true traditions and beliefs. There are always several angles from where we can approach any problem or question and it is hardly coincidence, that only certain angle, certain way of thinking is generally allowed. 
Please, forgive me my expressed disgust for the mainstream history.
Best wishes,
Moshe Sammetz


Zipporah

A female bird. Reuel's daughter, who became the wife of Moses (Ex. 2:21).
In consequence of the event recorded in Ex. 4:24-26, she and her two sons, Gershom and Eliezer, when so far on the way with Moses toward Egypt, were sent back by him to her own kinsfolk, the Midianites, with whom they sojourned till Moses afterwards joined them (18:2-6).

Zippor A little bird, the father of Balak, king of Moab (Num. 22:2, 4).

The Book of Exodus, Chapter 2

1 And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi.
2 And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months.
3 And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river's brink.
4 And his sister stood afar off, to wit what would be done to him.
5 And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river; and her maidens walked along by the river's side; and when she saw the ark among the flags, she sent her maid to fetch it.
6 And when she had opened it, she saw the child: and, behold, the babe wept. And she had compassion on him, and said, This is one of the Hebrews' children.
7 Then said his sister to Pharaoh's daughter, Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee?
8 And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, Go. And the maid went and called the child's mother.
9 And Pharaoh's daughter said unto her, Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages. And the women took the child, and nursed it.
10 And the child grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses: and she said, Because I drew him out of the water.
11 And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren.
12 And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand.
13 And when he went out the second day, behold, two men of the Hebrews strove together: and he said to him that did the wrong, Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow?
14 And he said, Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian? And Moses feared, and said, Surely this thing is known. Acts 7:27,28,35
15 Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of Midian: and he sat down by a well.
16 Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters: and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father's flock.
17 And the shepherds came and drove them away: but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock.
18 And when they came to Reuel their father, he said, How is it that ye are come so soon to day?
19 And they said, An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds, and also drew water enough for us, and watered the flock.
20 And he said unto his daughters, And where is he? why is it that ye have left the man? call him, that he may eat bread.
21 And Moses was content to dwell with the man: and he gave Moses Zipporah his daughter.
22 And she bare him a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land.
23 And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage.
24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.
25 And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them.

 

Dear Antoine,
The word "Heim" in German means "home."
Thus, Portheim means Oporto-home. Or perhaps Portugal-home. Yes, I believe that you are right as to the origin of the Porges name.  von der Porten means "of the port." They lived in Hamburg for generations and Hamburg is a port city. The original family name was Knorr. Why and how the name was changed has not been explained in the family tree book.

The people that I mentioned before are all blood descendants from Josefine von Portheim. Just as much as we are. Josefine married a Goldschmidt and Ernst was her son, Adele was her daughter. Paul Maximilian (my grandfather) and Walter were two of Adele's children.

Who knows. Perhaps one day you will hear from these people as well. On the other hand, maybe their families have chosen to forget their past. There is so much sadness there.

I never told my children anything about my family until recently. My sons are in their 40s, well-adjusted and succeeding in their chosen fields.

Unfortunately Aunt Irma made a point of telling her children of the illustrious family she came from. They grew up with the feeling that the world owes them something. They have not done well in life.

We are born with the genes of the family but what we do with our assets is entirely up to us. My grandfather, Paul, was a very clever man. He was brave enough to leave everything behind and migrate to America where he had to learn the language and re-establish himself. To practice medicine again he had to pass the State Board exam in the new language. It took two tries, but he did it. He made sure that all of his five children were out of Germany and safe from the madness there. In Brooklyn, New York, he chose to live a very quiet life, and to work diligently. He gave me a good example to follow. I grew up in my grandparents' household. By then they were in the second half of their life and I didn't know them when they were "somebody important" in Germany as their children did.

I think that I have told you something of this before. Have a good day.   

Regards,   Helen (Atteck)


From: Amy & Arnold Von der Porten <mailto:afn42760@afn.org> 
To: Atteck, Helen and Philip <mailto:atteck@niagara.com> 
Sent: Wednesday, June 11, 2003 12:03 PM
Subject: Re: To all the known descendants of the von portheims

Dear Helen and Philip,

If you look in my book, the chapter called "The Master-Race", and read pages 78 to 80, you will find what my father told me about the Jews in Germany.  Prague was, of course, a part of the very loosely held together empire with Vienna as its capital. 

Since the persecutions of Jews were at least as bad in the Orthodox Christian countries, especially during Ivan the Terrible's time, as they were on the Iberian Peninsula at the time of the Inquisition 15th and 16th century, a lot of Russian Jews must have fled to central Europe, including Prague which was Roman Catholic but not nearly as intolerant as Spain.  There the Russian Jews, normally speaking Russian, had the advantage of being able to communicate right away with the local population, as Russian and Czech are not very different languages.

Why Moses and Leopold Porges chose von Portheim to be their name when they were knighted, I do not know.  The German ending "heim" means "home".  They were German Jews.  They spoke German at home and went to German-Jewish schools.  Whether they traced some of their ancestry to Portugal, as many German Jews do, I do not know.

Our Hamburgian ancestors of the Labatt and DeLemos families certainly came from families of Portuguese ancestry.  Many of the Portuguese Jews migrated to Hamburg around 1500.

They brought with them the most valuable Mediterranian trade and were allowed to reside within the city gates.  German Jews were not allowed to live within the gates of the city at that time.  They were allowed to trade within the city, but they had to live on Holstein soil.

Most of our ancestors were considered German Jews.  Their name Knorr is very Germanic.  Some of the Knorrs must have lived near the city gates to Wandsbek, hence the name Knorr "of the Gate", " von der Porten" in Low German. 

Low German was the prevalent language in the lowlands of Germany (hence the name Low German) including Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein. High German is the German spoken on the higher elevations of Germany.  Martin Luther spoke and used to translate the Bible in Middle High German.  He thereby made it the most used German.  For that reason it was made the official and teaching language after the unification of the German states (except Austria) under Bismarck on January 18, 1871.  Bismarck's popularity not withstanding, my grandfather did not change our family-name to "von der Pforte" or "von dem Tor".  Nor did Papa change our family-name, when he became an American citizen, to: "of the Gate".

Love, Arnold.



 

From : Sergio Mota mota_xn_47@yahoo.com
Date : mercredi 25 juin 2003
To : saudades-sefarad@yahoogroups.com
Subject : [saudades-sefarad] THE NAME PORGES

Dear friend
I believe that the name Porges/Porjes comes from Spain or Portugal and the original name was Borges/Borjes. Here in Brazil they write both with G or J. I think when they moved the person that registered the names heard it as P instead of B. It is very common even here among german immigrants the mispelling Borges for Porges, like many other words like "batata"( potatoe in Portuguese and you see that in English they also put a P instead of a B like in Portuguese) they pronouce here "Patata". In south Brazil there are millions of german origin people and even some czechs. South Brazil has immigrants of the whole Europe and other countries. They stopped coming about 1960, when Europe began to recover from the II WW. This name is found in Portugal and Spain and of course where these languages are spoken.Some people say that it comes from the city of Bourges in France where there was a battle and the Spaniards and Portuguese won the battle from the French Army. So that some of the heroes adopted that name.But I don't believe this because I found this name being used much time before in the Iberian Peninsula. Borges is in many lists of converts and anusim. I have myself this name in my family. An ancestor of mine came from Lisbon in 1720 bearing this surname Borges with Vieira.That's why I researched this name and I believe that you are a sephardic jew.Go to www.sephardim.com and search Borges/Borjes. Borges the great Argentine writer said he was a jewish descendant himself. That's why he wrote the Poem Aleph, very known by his readers. Excuse-me so long mail but I had to write to help you to find your roots.Thanks for your attention, from your friend Sérgio Mota, from Porto Alegre, Brazil.Shalom! Portugal's 'hidden Jews' get a rabbi.


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The Jerusalem Post Staff            Jun. 26, 2003
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The crypto-Jews of northern Portugal, whose ancestors were forcibly converted to Catholicism during the Inquisition over five centuries ago, celebrated a milestone earlier this week: the investiture of a new rabbi sent from Israel to serve the community and its spiritual needs.

Rabbi Elisha Salas, who is originally from Chile but spent the past several years studying at yeshivot in Israel, was dispatched to Portugal by the Jerusalem-based Amishav organization, which reaches out and assists "lost Jews" seeking to return to Judaism.

According to Amishav Director and Jerusalem Post columnist Michael Freund, Rabbi Salas will be based in the village of Belmonte, where some 150 people, all of whom were crypto-Jews, underwent a formal return to Judaism in the early 1990's.

"Belmonte is home to a large and beautiful synagogue and a thriving community of people who had the courage to openly re-embrace Judaism over a decade ago," Freund said. "We decided to send Rabbi Salas to the area to work with the community and ensure its continued growth and development."

In addition, he added that the rabbi will work with the Jewish community of Oporto, Portugal's second-largest city, and will do outreach work among other crypto-Jewish communities throughout the northern part of the country.

 

 

vvv

A message from Seth Porges ...


" Also... I forgot to mention. I asked around what "Porges" meant to the Hungarians, and some younger folk informed me it was a slang term meaning "to spin around like a windmill and lose control yourself while having a good time."
They also said it was a reference to a style of dance usually accompanying electronic music.
"To rave", they told me.
Did you have any idea about this?
That picture is in reference to a part of the massive festival in Budapest that takes place every summer.

Seth Porges (2003)