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.
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.
of Porges families in Prague in 1600
B. Benjamin Porges (Porjes)
(b. 1650 Prague)
ben Israel Naphtaly Hirsch Porges
(b. ca 1600 Prague, d. 1670 Jerusalem)
ben Leib Porges
scribe of the Jewish community of Bonzlau
ben Judah Loeb Porges
For the full
story about the above Scholars, click
Porges were deported from Prague to the camp of Terezin in 1941/42.
More : Porges victims
of the holocaust.
New Jewish Cemetery of Prague (established in 1891) has a record
of 138 Porges burials between 1890 and 1975.
here for names and photos
Jewish surnames from PRAGUE( 15th - 18th century)
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.
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
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
form : PORJES
(Porias, Paris, PORGES, Borges, Borgis)]
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
Historii zidu v Cechach, na Morave a v slensku (906 az 1620)"
Prague 1906. (1:362)
surnames are formed by adding the suffix "s" to
the feminine given name.
: (from Greek Hypokorisma) to call by pet name / or by diminutive
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.
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
By Alexander Beider
Before the end of the 18th century, most
Ashkenazic Jews did not have hereditary family names.
documents the traditional forms X ben Y (X son of y)
and X bat Y (X daughter of y) were used as the primary
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
Even before 1787, a very large number of Jewish
families in Prague were using hereditary family names.
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.
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.
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
Almost all the Czech documents date from the end
of the 15th century through 1620.
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.
many Prague Jews used family names, the status of these names
was not the same as that of contemporary surnames.
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.
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.
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
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.
Following are the types
of Jewish surnames used in Prague :
1. surnames indicating
Kohen or Levite origin.
2. surnames derived
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
8. acronymic surnames.
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,
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.
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
- 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
- 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 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 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
- 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.
Internet postings about the origin of the name
10 Apr 2000 19:11:41
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
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
Dear list members!
I received an e-mail from Prague, one of the centers of
I think it might be of interest to all, so I will share it
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
December 30, 2005, we received the following letter from
Mose Sammetz (Czech Republic)
My humble opinion is, that the origin
is indeed in Portugal.
It is quite accepted tradition,
that the title Von Portheim means from Oporto.
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
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
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
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.
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
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).
||A little bird, the father
of Balak, king of Moab (Num. 22:2, 4).
Book of Exodus, Chapter
there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter
the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that
he was a goodly child, she hid him three months.
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
his sister stood afar off, to wit what would be done to him.
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.
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.
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
Pharaoh's daughter said to her, Go. And the maid went and called
the child's mother.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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
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.
the priest of Midian had seven daughters: and they came and
drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father's flock.
the shepherds came and drove them away: but Moses stood up and
helped them, and watered their flock.
when they came to Reuel their father, he said, How is it that
ye are come so soon to day?
they said, An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds,
and also drew water enough for us, and watered the flock.
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.
Moses was content to dwell with the man: and he gave Moses Zipporah
she bare him a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said,
I have been a stranger in a strange land.
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
God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with
Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.
God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect
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:firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: Atteck, Helen and Philip <mailto:email@example.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".
From : Sergio Mota firstname.lastname@example.org
Date : mercredi 25 juin 2003
To : email@example.com
Subject : [saudades-sefarad] THE NAME PORGES
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
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
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.
The Jerusalem Post Staff Jun.
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.
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)