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Archive for the ‘origins’ Category

liverpool scan

Victor and his family arrived in Liverpool and, for some reason, stayed. The map shows approximate locations of the family during the last few decades of the 19th century. Double-clicking on the image should enlarge it.

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gusgwenwedding

L-R: unknown bridesmaid; Amy Kahn; Philip Kahn; Gaston Kahn; Gwendoline Hanson; Walter Hanson; unknown bridesmaid
on the day Gaston turned Gwen into a Kahn -
19 November 1938 – Weymouth, Dorset

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A new page has been established for a research paper published by Professor Aubrey Newman.
To read the paper, please click the “Jewish Migration” tab and follow the link.

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Because of being involved with other things, this website has not been kept up to date in the past year or so. I hope you’ve found the site useful in some small way in spite of our neglect.  We’re pleased that researchers have left comments and hope that between you some answers have been found. Please continue to write and if we can help in any way, we’ll do our best. In the meantime, we’re picking up the reins again and hope to be able to solve some of the mysteries surrounding our branch of the Kahn family.

By the way, when I write ‘we’ it is the ‘royal we.’ Responsibility for the website being ignored rests with me solely. I shall make amends, when I know how.

Alan Kahn

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Eureka! That’s probably the wrong word to use, but we’ve done it! Thanks to Stefan Roos of Trier in Germany, we’ve achieved a major breakthrough in our researches. Victor’s missing siblings have been traced.

Now we know that Victor’s parents Lazarus and Jeanette had six children: Raphael Louis (1818) and his twin sister who was stillborn; Salomon (1822); Joseph (1824); Victor (1827) and another stillborn daughter (1829) – all born in Luxembourg. Perhaps these siblings were not discovered during our researches at the Grand Duchy’s National Archives because Lazarus was registered in Luxembourg as Cahen, the French spelling of Kahn. I can feel another visit to Luxembourg coming on.

As a result of the email from Stefan, we also know that Lazarus and his wife (Jeanette Isaac Lazard) were first cousins, Jeanette being the daughter of Lazarus’s mother’s brother. This was an unsuspected link.

Furthermore, we now know that Lazarus died in Luxembourg in 1873. Perhaps we missed the record of his death because it was recorded under the name of Cahen while we were concentrating on Kahns. In fact, Lazarus appears to have used both spellings of his name, as evinced in the on-line listings of recipients of St Helena medals, the Napoleonic (and hence French) campaign award for those fighting as part of the Grand Armee. (www.stehelene.org/php/accueil.php?page=4&lang=en).

And yet more information: Stefan introduced us to an entirely new family: that of Elisabeth Alexander. She married Ralph Louis Kahn (Victor’s brother) in 1859 in Saarlouis. They had three surviving children: George (1861), Paul (1863) and Henriette (1864), all registered under the name of Cahen and born in Luxembourg. Elisabeth’s father was Lazard Alexander and her mother was born Fleurette Aron.

Finally, here is that elusive Welschbillig connection: Lazarus’s brother Levy and sister Johanetta both settled there with their respective families. So our last year’s speculative trip to that pleasant part of rural Germany was relevant after all.

When time permits, we’ll add this new data to the biographies section. In the meantime, we are very grateful to Stefan for this invaluable information. Of course, the search continues and we’d be delighted to hear from any descendants of Victor’s brothers, no matter how distant.

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I now (believe I) have a clearer understanding of the derivation of the Kahn name.

The Cohens were an ancient Jewish tribe of priests, believed to be descendants of Aaron and entrusted by God with certain sacred rites within temples. Other tribes were, for example, Levy and Israel. Membership of the tribe came through the male line only, contrary to Jewishness which is passed down through the maternal line.

Hebrew has no vowels in the alphabet. Instead, vowels are indicated by accents or dots or small lines below the letter. Thus Cohen is written in Hebrew: kaf-hei-nun (although written right to left) translating to c-h-n.

To allow names to be written and understood in a non-Hebrew language, vowels replace the dashes, giving us Kahn, Kuhn or Kohn, as well as Cahen and Kahan. In fact, they are all variations of the same root name – Cohen.

In theory, all Kahns are descendants of the Kohanim, the priests. The Jewish priest is not to be confused with a rabbi. They complement each other. A rabbi is not required to be a kohein and a kohein can be a rabbi. The two religious roles perform different ritualistic functions within the Jewish faith.

Kohein graves often bear the symbols of the ‘blessing hands.’

This insight was courtesy of GB of cemeteryscribes.com. If you haven’t already, please take a look at this excellent website: www.cemeteryscribes.com

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For many years I’ve wandered through far-flung cemeteries looking for the name Kahn on gravestones. The Kahn name never appeared, partly because I was usually in Christian cemeteries and we have an undeniably Jewish name. That’s not to say all Kahns are Jewish; these days many are not, but in the 18th and 19th century, most Kahns would have been of the Jewish race and the Jewish religion. Hence, the majority of our forebears will be found only in Jewish cemeteries.

Freudenburg and Schweich Jewish cemeteries were enlightening. There our name is abundant in death. These little green plots on river valley hillsides are crammed full of Kahns, most of them distantly related to the founders of this blog.

At Schweich, the cemetery has survived since 1850 in a small tree-fringed hollow in gently sloping grassy banks at the end of a tiny and modern residential cul-de-sac: Im Gartenfeld. Almost entirely surrounded by well-groomed gardens, this small Jewish enclave is in the midst of Germanic horticulture.  Cherry trees, no doubt escapers from adjacent gardens, drop fruit on old graves and young silver birches lean in as if to observe in respect and quietude.

The cemetery is obviously tended. Graves have been repaired where possible; grass is mown short and somebody (probably a member of the local synagogue) keeps paths free of weeds. Browsing along the ranks of headstones is easy once through the gate (or over in my case because the entrance was locked). Kahn; Kahn; another Kahn; more Kahns. Some of the headstones are missing; many have been rendered indecipherable by weather and time. Here are three terraces of distant branch-line ancestors represented by the art of the stonemason.

Freudenburg Jewish cemetery is up a steep little slope on the outskirts of a picturesque and tranquil village. The gates were already swung open into a tapering sward of green meadow to reveal long lines of gravestones on the brow of a gentle hill. This is a more natural, maybe wilder, cemetery, but certainly not neglected. The headstones are perhaps in generally better condition than at Schweich. I walked along the ranks, taking photographs of silent Kahns. We’re related to a lot of them. I have a suspicion that our line actually started in Freudenburg and then moved to Schweich, but I have no proof. Something tells me we’ll never know.

Only distant relatives are here in Schweich and Freudenburg. Graves of the grandfathers of our grandfathers are missing. They’d died or moved on before these cemeteries were opened, but most of these Kahns I found are related to us in one way or another and feature in our continually expanding family tree.

Photographs of some of the graves will appear on www.cemeteryscribes.co.uk, a website recording residents of Jewish cemeteries in the UK and abroad.

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