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The Aboafs of Venice

    In August of 2004 my wife Jenny and I travelled to Italy for 3 weeks. We were wandering through the Jewish ghetto in Venice one day when my wife noticed a plaque on a building that had the name 'Aboaf' on it.  Though we didn't know it at the time, the plaque is a memorial to the Jews of Venice who died fighting in World War I. The text of the plaque roughly translates as:

The Venetian Jews who fell in war for the native land. The community with love with pride remembers.

    The first name listed is "Aboaf, Umberto". Though the specific war is not mentioned, the Roman numerals at the bottom incidate 1915-1920 (World War I). 

    Just a bit further down the street my wife again noticed the 'Aboaf' name, this time on an apartment building. I rang the doorbell, and a woman answered. Using a combination of my limited Italian and Hebrew, along with some English, I managed to convey that I had the same last name (more or less), and wanted to introduce myself. The woman informed me that she was occupied with her mother, but that I should introduce msyelf to her husband, who was working in the Judaica shop across the way.

    In doing so we met Enzo Aboaf. Enzo was happy to meet us, and shared his family history with us. Unfortunately we had a train to catch, but we were able to stay long enough for Enzo to tell us about his family briefly. His ancenstors came from Spain (as did many of ours), but ended up in Venice rather than Turkey, and have now been there for over 300 years. So that my poor Italian would not get in the way, I recorded a short video of Enzo telling his family's story in his own words. You can watch it by clicking here. If anyone can translate his talk from Italian to English, please let me know.

Simon Abuhab of Brazil has since reminded me that in the past there were several Aboab families in Venice, with at least 3 generations of rabbis.

Just before meeting Enzo, we had toured the Jewish Ghetto Museum nearby. In the museum is a nice poster that desrcibes the history of Venetian Jews. I took a photo of that poster, which can be viewed by clicking on the small image of it below.