The meaning of names among Mediterranean Jews

Marc Eliany ©

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

The root of the name may be A'mar in Arabic, refering to an occupation as a farmer or porter. It may be that the name Amar, widespread among Moroccan Jews, is related to farming or a porter's occupation. The word a'mar, however has been also associated with financing, especially in rural Morocco. It is much more likely that Jews did play a role in small scale financing in farming and non-farming areas. The name appears also with the prefix 'ben' = son of as well as 'amara' = amar in a plurial form. Amor may be a transformation of the name Amar but it may be of Hebrew origin. The roots 'mar' 'amor' 'mor' 'mori' may be Hebrew abbreviations common among Moroccan Jews, refering to 'adoni, mori ve rabbi' (my master, teacher and rabbi). The word 'mor' may also refer to a perfume, perhaps a perfume dealer or perfume maker.

A transformation of the name in Spain and Portugal may have made of Amar - Amarillio but the name may refer to a personal characteristic (a color?).

The root 'mar' as well as 'mor' appears to be preceded by the prefix 'a' which indicates to a descendence, i.e., the son of 'mor.'

Prefixes attached to the root name such as (aben, iben, abi, avi, ben, bin, abou, a, aj, al, bel, 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.'

Suffixes such as 'i' or 'ri' refer to an association with a person, for example: Mori = my teacher.
Suffixes such as 'illo' 'ano' 'ino'
'nino' are used in Spain and Italy to indicate descendence or association with an attribute.

AMAR Jo (XXes.). Morocco.Popular singer. Prayer leader. Poet and composer in Israel and USA.
AMAR Paul (1950-).Algeria. Journalist in France. Author of Œil de verre (An eye of glass) a political fiction.
AMAR Ange (XIXes.). Algeria. Community leader. Established a Jewish armed guard.
AMAR David (1920-2000). Morocco. International businessman. Community leader. Chair of ORT, the council of Moroccan Jewish communities. Sought Arab/Jewish reconciliation.
AMAR Mardoché (XIXes.). Algeria. Community leader. Represented the Turkish Bey in negociations with the French after the occupation of Algeria.
AMAR Moché (1895-1972). Palestine. pioneer of Hebrew printing in Morocco. Publisher of most sacred books in Morocco.
AMAR Yéchaia (XVIIIes.). Gibraltar. Diplomat. Advisor to the king of Morocco. Contributed to Anglo-Moroccan commercial relations and the development of the Port of Tangier.
AMAR Ariella (1958-). Israël. Professor at the Hebrew University. Director of the department of synagogues and cultural arts at the Centre of Jewish Art.
AMAR Maury (XXes.). Morocco. Community leader. Gynécologue. Author of Takkanot hakhmé Meknas (Rabbinical Rulings in Meknès).
AMAR Chalom (1863-1900). Originaire du Maroc (Meknès). Rabbin et juge, il fut président du Tribunal rabbinique de Meknès.
AMAR Chalom ben David (XVIIIes.). Morocco. Rabbi. Author. Settled in Tibéria in Israel. Travelled back and forth to raise fund for Jewish centres in Palestine.
AMAR Chémouèl (1830-1889). Morocco. Rabbi. Poet. Rabbinical judge. Author of Rabbinical rulings.
AMAR Moché (XXes.). Morocco. Rabbi. Professor at Bar Ilan university. Founder of Orot hamah’arav, a publishing house specialised in Moroccan rabbinic manuscripts.

AMARILLO Aaron ben Chélomo (1700-1772). Turkey. Rabbi. Author of rabbinic rulings.
AMARILLO Abraham (XVIIIes.). Turkey. Chief rabbi of Salonica. Author of sermons relating to the Torah.
AMARILLO Chélomo ben Yossef (1645-1721). Turkey. Rabbi.Author of Péné Chélomo (Faces of Solomon).
AMARILLO Chem-Tov (XIXes.). Turkey. Rabbi of Corfu.
AMARILLO Haïm Moché ben Chélomo (1695-1748). Turkey. Rabbi. Educator. Author of Dévar Moché (Moses Sermons).

AMOR Shaoul (1940-). Morocco. Social worker. Mayor of Migdal Haemek and parliament member in Israel. member of the Likud party.

BENAMARA Rahamim (1912-?). Morocco (Meknès). Rabbinical judge in Mazagan and Casablanca. Publisher. Author of Lee't métso (Timely) and Téchouo't tsadikim (Saints' Salvation).


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)