The meaning of names among Mediterranean Jews

Marc Eliany ©

WIZEMAN, (Weitzman, Vizeman)

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

The root of the name may be 'mn' or 'zmn'

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

The root ‘zmn’ in Moroccan Berber may refer to the tribe Ait Izman. Jews affiliated or protected by Ait Izmen may have used their tribal affiliation to identify themselves.

The root ‘mn’ in Hebrew refers to 'mana' a food provided to the Hebrews during their wandering in the Sinai desert after their departure from Egypt.
The root
‘zmn’ in Hebrew refers usually to 'time' and the name may refer to time calculation. This function was reserved to rabbis with great authority thus reducing the likelihood the name refers to the occupation in question, but it is not unlikely.

Another possibility is that the name may refer to an origin, i.e., from 'aman' (Jordan) or 'meaman' (Spain) or 'aleman' (Germany) or 'zman' (a Berber tribe in Southern Morocco), 'mans' (France).

The names Wiseman (smart man) or Weitzman (white man), common among European Jews, share similarities with some of the names above. European Jews did settle in North Africa from time to time but the likelihood of a relationship between the European version and the Mediterranean names is not likely but not excluded.

The name Manor is a recent Hebrew adaptation (although Dan Manor's family name was Lugassy before the change to Manor).

ALÉMAN Matéo (1547?-1615). Spain. Marrano.lived in Mexico. Doctor. Author of Guzmán de Alfarache.

AJIMAN Yéchaia (XVIIIe-XIXes.).Turkey. Community leader. Founded a transition home in Jaffa for pilgrims and immigrants to Jerusalem/Palestine.

ALMANSI Joseph (1801-1860). Italy. Poet.
ALMANSI Dante (?-1948). Italy. Judge. Jewish community leader in Italy duting WWII.
ALMANSI Emilio (1869-1948). Italy. Physicist. Mathematician.Contributed to the developement of the theory of elasticity.

MANOR Dan (XXes.). Morocco. Professor. Author of Kabalah vemoussar bémaroco (Mysticism and ethics in Morocco).

MAMAN Aaron (1947-). Morocco. Linguistics Professor in Jerusalem. Co-author of Les juifs d’Afrique du Nord en Israël de rabbi Haïm Benattar à nos jours. MAMANE Abraham (1915-1992). Morocco. Rabbi. Author of several ritual slaughter codes.
MAMANE Moché (?-1783). Morocco. Rabbi. Merchant. Court counsellor and banker. Philantrope.
MAMANE Raphaël (1810-1882). Morocco. Rabbi. Chief of the rabbical court in Safed. Author of Marpé lanéfèch (Healing the soul).
MAMANE Yossef (Elmograbi) (1725-1823). Morocco. Rabbi. Established Jewish education in Boukhara. Founder of the Zionist organization Hibat Tsion. Led immigration from Boukhara to Jerusalem and the construction of the Boukhara quarter in Jerusalem.
MAMANE Yossef (XIXes.). Morocco. Originaire du Maroc (Sefrou). Rabbin, il est l’auteur de Chété yadot (Deux mesures) qui comprend Yad rama (Main étendue) un ensemble de responsa et Yad harachim (La main des pauvres), des homélies.

MANI Éliyahou ben Sliman (1818-1899). Iraq. Rabbi. Founder of a Yeshiva in Hébron Author of Zikhronot Eliyahou (Memories of Eliahu).

WIZEMANE Shemouel (XVIII) Morocco. Chief rabbi of Mogador (Essaouira).


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)