The meaning of names among Mediterranean Jews

Marc Eliany ©

ALTARAS Taras Tarsi Tarsis
among other possible variations depending on the country and language of the person.

The root of the name may be 'Tars,' Hebrew for Tarsis, a city in ancient Syria, often associated with Paul of Tarsis (Shaul Hatarsi). The name may have a meaning in Arabic, i.e., deaf or embroider.

The root 'tars' is preceded by the prefix 'al.' It may be followed by the suffix 'i' like in 'Hatarsi.'

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 'eri' refer to an affiliation with a person or a place, for example: Saul of Tarsis = Saul Hatarsi.
Suffixes such as 'ano' 'ino'
'nino' are used in Spain and Italy to indicate descendence.

ALTARAS Yossef (XVIes.) Syria. Poet. Lithurgy singer. Author of lithurgy canonized in Syrian prayer books.
ALTARAS Jacques (1786-1873). Syria. Arms negociator. Philantropist. Lived in Jerusalem and Marseille. Attempted to negociate the immigration of Russian Jews to Algeria.
ALTARAS Moché (XVIe-XVIIes.). Italy. Rabbi of Venice. Author. Translated the Choulhan H’aroukh (A Jewish code) to Judeo-Spanish as well as
El Mantenimiento del alma (Soul salvation) aimed to Marranos/New Christians who return to Judaism.
ALTARAS Yah’acov Moché Haï (1863-1919). Bosnia. Rabbi. Educator. Prayer leader. Author of Tesoro de Israël (Treasures of Israel).


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)