By Sarina RoffÃ©
The Aleppo Britot Milah
Database covers the years 1868-1945, although the entries in the final years are
scant. There are 7549 britot and 7554 individuals registered in this list.
As a descendant of Syrian grandparents, who has researched family geneology for three decades, I know the importance
of finding records and more importantly, the importance of making the records available to the general public. In the Ottoman Empire,
there were no vital records. All records of male births were kept as brit milah
records by the individual mohalim
(circumcisors). There was no record of female births. When the Dayan brit milah
list became available to me, I understood its significance in helping Syrian Jewish families obtain information for genealogical purposes.
For the past seven years, I have worked to make the list accessible and as accurate as I could for English
speaking Americans, as this represents the largest population of Syrian Jews in the world.
In Aleppo the children were usually given one name. In this list, in most
of the cases where you see two names,
the second name is the name of the father. In some cases, the list had three names, such as `Eliyahu Yosef Eliyahu.` This
means that the child is Eliyahu, son of Yosef and grandson of Eliyahu. In recording and categorizing the individuals,
we assumed that the first middle name is the father's given name and the second middle name is grandfather's name. Since this rule
does have occasional exceptions, the transcript was copied exactly as is.
The transliterators preferred not to make assumptions that could be erroneous. In cases where no given name was
recorded, the field was left blank. In cases where the entry indicated that the father's name was different from the middle name,
a note was made of the middle name.
Since this rule does have occasional exceptions, we preferred to copy the original transcript exactly as is and
not make our own assumptions.
In the original list the first name and the family name are written together continuously. They have been listed
in the English translation under two separate columns.
Examples of Assumption:
1. Given name is listed as Yosef Ezra Yitzhak. This would be listed as given name Yosef; father's given name Ezra and grandfather's
given name Yitzhak.
2. Given name is listed as Menahem Eliyahu son of Yosef. This example would be listed as Given Name Menahem, father's name
Yosef; notes: middle name Eliyahu
In all cases, we use the Hebrew name and not the English name of the individual. For example Avraham, not Abraham.
There are some female births in this list. We assume the females were baby namings done by the mohel
Twins were noted in the records as having one entry. However, we have given the second twin a second entry. This means there
is no record number and the reference for the record number should be with the first twin.
There are several instances of illegible names and despite the best efforts of all concerned, we could not
come to a conclusion on the correct spelling of the names and left them as is.
It is common for there to be multiple spellings of the same surname, even among members of the same family. In
editing the list and translating it from Hebrew to English, we chose to use a common spelling for surnames. For example the name
Dweck can also be spelled, Dwek or Doueck.
Hebrew List Source:
The list spans the life spans of Rabbi Yeshayah Dayan (1833 -1903; son of Rabbi Mordechai Dayan (d 1847))
and his son Rabbi Yitzhak Dayan (1878-1964), both of whom were mohalim
The original list was list was written in a Rashi script unique to Aleppo. We thank Menachem Yedid and the
World Center for Aleppan Jewry in Tel Aviv for their work in translating the original list into Modern Hebrew. The list was then
translated into English under the supervision of Galit Mizrahi Bar-Or in Jerusalem. We converted all of the Hebrew dates of the
original brit milah
into Gregorian ones.
The list was primarily edited by Mathilde Tagger in Jerusalem. Consultations were made with several individuals who were born in Aleppo and currently live in Brooklyn's Syrian community as they grew up with the Rashi script. I also consulted with Rabbi Moshe Shamah of Sephardic Institute, Rabbi Sam Kassin of the Shehebar Sephardic Center in Jerusalem, Dr. Avraham Marcus at the University of Texas Austin, and Dr. YaronHarel at Bar Ilan University.
A Hebrew only copy of this list is in the process of being published in Israel, through a generous donation by
Zuri Anzaruth of Hong Kong.
I received many donations, including a large gift from Joseph Sitt of Thor Equities, Eddie Sitt, and other smaller
donations from Brooklyn Syrian community members. Without their gifts, the translations would not have been possible.
I want to thank everyone involved in making this list available to the Sephardic community. It has taken seven
years but it was well worth the wait. I believe this list represents a good faith effort at making the information available to
the general public.
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