The meaning of names among Mediterranean Jews

Marc Eliany ©


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

AMIEL and BEN AMI are represented by entries from Morocco. The name is indeed prevalent in Morocco in the form of Ben Ami but not as much in the Amiel transformation. The name consists of the prefix 'ben' = son of , the root 'am' = people and the suffix 'i' = my, conveying affiliation to the people of Israel. 'Amiel'
consists of the root 'am' = people and a complex suffix made of 'i' = my and 'el' = god, to convey association or benediction of God.

Prefixes attached to the root name such as (aben, iben, abe, abi, abou, aboul, avi, am, ben, bin, abou, a, aj, al, 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, iel 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...

AMIEL André (1928-). Morocco (El Jadida). Community leader in Montréal, Quebec. First president of The Sepharade Francophone Association (1966-1967).

BEN AMI Chélomo (XXes.). Morocco (Tanger). Historian. Specialist of Spain. Diplomat. First Ambassador of Israël in Spain. Member of the Israeli parliament and minister (interior and foreign affairs) representing the Labor party. Fascism from above: The dictatorship of Primo Rivera in Spain; The origins of the second republic in Spain; La revolución desde arriba : España 1936-1979. Member of the team negociating peace with the Palestinians.
BEN AMI Issakhar (1933-). Morocco (Casablanca). Professor of folklore at the Hebrew University in Jérusalem. Author of Cultes des saints et pèlerinages judéo-musulmans au Maroc; Le judaïsme marocain : études ethnoculturelles; La vénération des saints parmi les Juifs du Maroc.


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)