The meaning of names among Mediterranean Jews

Marc Eliany ©

ALACHKAR (Ascar, Ashkar)

among other possible variations depending on the country and language of the person.

Al Achkar is represented by Palestinian and Spanish creators, mainly rabbis. The name appears to be of Arab origin. It consists of the prefix 'al' and the root 'achkar' = soldier. Jews served in Arab armies at different functions during the expansion of Islam from the Middle East to North Africa. Descendents of the said soldiers amy have settled in Spain, during its occupation by the Moors. The word 'ashkar' may also mean 'truth' in popular Arabic.

Prefixes attached to the root name such as (aben, iben, abe, abi, abou, aboul, avi, am, ben, bin, abou, a, aj, al, ala, af, aff, bel, even, ha, i, la, lel, me, m, o, wi, vi, ) denotes usually a relation to a person, i.e., the father of or the son of X, a place, i.e., a person from X, an occupation, i.e., a person who practices a specific occupation, a characteristic of a person, i.e., beautiful... The prefixes al, el are equivalent to 'the' in English or the article 'le' in French. In the Moroccan Berbers tradition, prefixes such as 'wi' 'vi' 'i' means usually a family relationship to X, the equivalent of Abu in Arabic, i.e., 'the father of', 'son of' a man, a tribal affiliation and so forth.In the Hebrew tradition, the prefix ‘M ‘ is an abbreviation of the word 'from.'

Complex prefixes such as 'Ab e' in the name Ab E Rgel consist of two elements Ab=father and E=the.
Complex prefixes such as 'BarHa' in the name BarHaNess consist of two elements Bar=son and Ha=the.

Suffixes such as 'an' or 'in' denote affiliation or a characteristic in Aramaec.
Suffixes such as 'a' characterize ancient Hebrew names, i.e., AviHatsir'a'
Suffixes such as oulah, oulay, ilah, ily, el, eli are used in Hebrew and Arabic to associate a name with God' blessing.
Suffixes such as 'i' or 'ri' 'ti' refer to an association with a person or a location, for example: arditi= from ardou or ard.
Suffixes such as 'illo' 'ano' 'ino' 'nino' are used in Spain and Italy to indicate descendence or association with an attribute.
Suffixes such as 'yah', 'yahu' 'hu' are used in Hebrew to denote God's benediction, for example: aviyah, aviyahu, avihu...
Suffixes such as 'oun' 'on' 'yout' 'out' characterize adjectives in Hebrew, for example: Hayoun, hayout...

ALACHKAR Chélomo (XVIes.). Spain. Community leader. Philanthropist. Subsidized a network of Rabbinical seminaries and the publication of Yossef Caro's (Choulhan A'roukh).
ALACHKAR David (XVIIes.). Palestine. Rabbi in Jerusalem. His tomb is subject to pilgrimage.
ALACHKAR Moché ben Itshak (1466?-1542?). Spain. Left Spain at the time of the Expulsion. Travelled through North Africa, settling in Tunisia, Egypt and Palestine, after a brief passage through Greece. Rabbi. Poet. Kabalist. Author of rabbinic rulings. Author of Bamey Akadém (How shall I praise?).
ALACHKAR Yossef ben Moché (XVIes.). Spain. Rabbi. Kabalist. Poet. Director of a Rabbinical seminary in Tlemcen after the Expulsion from Spain. Author of E'dout béyossef (Joseph's memoires); Mirkévét hamichnéh (The second chariot); Réfouat hanéféch (Soul salvation); Tsafnat pa'néa' (The code) a mystic commentary on the Mishnah.


ABEHSSERA Chalom Séfér youhassin (Genealogy Registers).

Azoulay, Hayim Yossef Shem Hagdolim (the names of the great)

AZOULAY Haïm Yossef David (Hida) (1724-1807) Chém haguédolim va’ad lahakhamim (The names of the Great Council of Sages).

Levi, J et. al. 2000        Dictionnaire biographique du monde Juif Sepharade et Mediteranean, Editions Elysee, Montreal.

Toledano, J. 1983        La saga des familles, Les juifs du Maroc et leurs noms, Editions Stavit, Tel Aviv

Laredo A. 1978           Les noms des juifs au Maroc (Madrid, 1978)