Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Barry's Blog

A blog post by Dr. Barry Lever - the first post in this series can be found here.

When one attends a contemporary hasanah, a Jewish wedding, the guests generally know the names of the bride, kalla, and the groom, hosan. One of the fascinating ketubah elements, however is that these legal documents only identify the bride and groom by their first names. These participants are linked for identification to their respective fathers, as the daughter of, bas …, or son of, bar … with the father’s name. However, no surnames are used.

An example of this is seen in the Golombek Ketubah, 2000.110.001*:

Close up of the English translation.

Here the hosan, groom is identified in the Aramaic original as rebbe Z’eev,* the son of, rebbe T’vi Hersh and the bride, Tirtzah the daughter of Y’cheel. *(Please note that the groom’s name, Z’eev was inadvertently omitted from this English translation.)

So if we are to continue our detective efforts to learn more about the lives and times of these individuals we need more information. Fortunately there is an additional clue within the Golombek Ketubah and possibly you have already discovered it?

To find this clue you will have to view the bottoms’ of the original scans, both of the Golombek Ketubah, and its corresponding transliterated Aramaic text both reproduced here.

Even though the signatures are written in an old style script they are the only feature of the document decipherable to an English reader. Unfortunately only the top two signatures are readily legible.

The first signature is that of “Wolff Golden, ha’chosen.” The English name, “Wolff” is a translation of the Hebrew name, Z’eev, previously noted in the document as the bridegroom.

The second legible script signature, “H. Habal,” appears to be a person of German origin because the two dots (..)over the second letter of his name. This “omlaut” is a typical diacritical Germanic language symbol that indicates the correct pronunciation of a word, in this case the person’s last name.

With these two names, the bridegroom’s given and surname name, “Wolff Goldin,” and the surname name of the witness, “Habel,” the exploration for additional clues about these individuals moves beyond the Golombek Ketubah.

Our detective efforts begin with the witness “H. Habal,” as it was not initially clear whether the bridegroom’s scripted last name began with the letter S, therefore making his name Soldin, or the letter G, making his last name, Goldin.

However, we quickly found the name, Harman Habel with the occupation of grocer listed in the 1845 and 1851 Matchett’s Baltimore City Directory, operating his store at 138 Orleans Street. His residence is also listed at the same location in the later directory.

1851 Matchett’s Baltimore City Directory

Interior page including the entry on H. Harman.

Close up on Habal Harman's entry.

Our search for more clues will resume with the November edition of Barry’s Blog! Enjoy the beautiful foliage of the new Fall season.

*A portion of the conservation of the item was made possible through the Betty & Leonard Golombek Philanthropic Fund. Gift of the children of Betty & Leonard Golombek in honor of their parents 50th anniversary.

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