Sunday, December 17, 2006

ABC, Not Quite So Easy As 123

In the film "Last Greeks On Broome Street," Ed Askinazi tries to decipher his father's Aleph. What is an aleph? "A Romaniote wall amulet marking the birth of a son. The aleph, in the Kabbalistic tradition, contained various names of God written in mystical codes to protect the child for its first 40 days of life; they were inscribed with the child's name, date of circumcision, and the names of three angels. Because the aleph contained family names and nicknames, it is particularly useful to the Jewish genealogist. Kehila Kedosha Janina's museum contains the largest collection of alephs in the world." I have my father's aleph (above) and brought it with me when I visited the museum today to get another copy of Ed's film. According to those that were there who were able to decipher it's calligraphied Hebrew, the most that could be deciphered was that his grandfather's name was Solomon. My father was named for his grandfather, I was named for my grandfather, David. That evidently is a Romaniote (sephardic?) custom and it doesn't require that the family member be deceased.

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