Rappaport

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Rap(p)aport, Rap(p)oport or Rapa Porto (Hebrew: רפפורט‎) is a family name from an Italian (Jewish) Kohenitic pedigree. It takes its origins in the Rapa family of Porto located in Province of Mantua, Italy.

Earliest history[edit]

The names of Rapa or Rappe ha-Kohen(-Tzedeq (Rapa Katz) are met with in about 1450. At that time Meshullam Kusi (abbreviated from "Jekuthiel") Rapa ha-Kohen Tzedeq, the earliest known member of the family, lived on the Rhine, probably in Mainz. Several decades later the family disappeared from Germany, probably on account of the Jews' expulsion from Mainz on October 29, 1462. In 1467, in Mestre, near Venice, the wealthy Chayyim Rappe is found as alms' collector for the poor of the Holy Land. In Venice, the physician R. Moses Rap was exempted in 1475 from wearing the Jew's badge.

In the middle of the 16th century there appeared in Italy a Kohenitic family of the name of Porto. On March 18, 1540, R. Isaac Porto ha-Kohen obtained from the Duke of Mantua permission to build an Ashkenazic synagogue. The name of the family was not derived from the Portuguese city of Porto, nor from the Bavarian city of Fürth as some authors have suggested, but instead from Porto, near Mantua, where the above-named Isaac Porto ha-Kohen lived. An alliance between the Rabe and Porto families explains the combination of the two family names in Rapoport; in 1565, officiating in the above-mentioned synagogue of Mantua, there is found a Rabbi Solomon ben Menahem ha-Kohen Rapa of Venice, while a Rabbi Abraham Porto ha-Kohen (1541–76) was parnas of the community.

During the same time period, a branch of the family settled in Prague in central Europe, as evidenced by burials with the name Porta in 1589 and Port in 1598.[1]

Eastern European branches[edit]

Rapaport coat of arms showing the raven and hands in the form of a priestly blessing.

The Polish branch of the family explains its name through the following legend: one Easter a certain Jew, to prevent his enemies from smuggling the body of a Christian child into his house, closed all possible entrances and openings except the chimney. Down the chimney however, the dreaded corpse fell, but when a crowd stormed the house nothing but a partridge (Old German, "Rephuhn" or "Raphuhn") was found in the fireplace. But the "Von den Jungen Raben" (the house shield name of Judengasse "From the young crow (cf. raven)") in the signature of Abraham Menahem ha-Kohen Rapa von Port at the end of his Pentateuch commentary, and the additional fact that the coat of arms of the family bears a raven, clearly show that signifies "Rabe" (Middle High German, "Rappe"). The family name, therefore, at the end of the 16th century seems to be clearly established as Ha-Kohen Rabe. Part of the Polish branch changed their name into Wrona, which is Polish for crow. Another possibility is that these Wrona's originated from Verona in Italy. The Yiddish (or Hebrew) transcription of Wrona and Verona are identical (waw resh waw nun he).

By the middle of the 17th century authors belonging to the Rapa-Port family were living in Poland and Lithuania, the name having meanwhile undergone the following modifications: Rapiport, Rapoport, Rapperport, and Rappert. The family spread principally from Cracow and Lemberg (Lviv); in the latter place, in 1584, was born the famous Talmudist Abraham Rapa von Port (called also Schrenzel). In 1650 Rapoports lived in Dubno and Krzemeniec; in the 18th century descendants of R. Judah Rapoport are found in Smyrna and Jerusalem. About 1750 there were two Rapoports in Dyhernfurth (Silesia) — one named Israel Moses and the other R. Meïr: the former came from Pińczów, the latter from Krotoschin. Both found employment in the printing establishment at Dyhernfurth.

A notable scholar of this branch included R. Khaim haKohen Rapoport, who lived in Lviv and died there in 1771. He was one of the key "talmudists" involved in the Frankist debates set up by the Archbishop Dembowski in 1757. R. Khaim's descendants include the Rapoport-Bick dynasty. R. Khaim's pedigree is known from his personal and his descendants' writings.

List of persons with the surname Rappaport[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainJewish Encyclopedia. 1901–1906. 

  1. ^ Beider, A., Jewish Surnames in Prague, Avotaynu, Inc., 1995, ISBN 0-9626373-5-1, p. 17.

Bibliography, external links and other articles[edit]