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.
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.