Saturday, October 20, 2012

Families of Note: Jesurun Family

There are several Jewish families who can be found in the colonial records of many of the port towns of the Atlantic World.  One of these is the Jesurun Family (also Yesurun, Jessurun, and Jeshurun). Jesurun (יְשֻׁרוּן ) is a variation of  poetic variation of the people of Israel, that means "upright one" from the Hebrew word Yashar.  It can be found in the Torah in the book of Isaiah (44.2) and D'varim (Deuteronomy) 32.15, 33.5, and 33.26 (Bible Encyclopedia).

This Iberian family played a foundational role in the Sephardic communities of Amsterdam and Hamburg.  Early members of the family to settle in Amsterdam included Reuel (Rohel) Jesurun (alias Paul de Pina), Daniel Jesurun who was president of an early yeshiva, and David Jesurun, a poet, some of whose works were published by Daniel Levi ("Miguel") de Barrios in Triumpho del Govierno Popular.  Other early family members included Isaac ben Abraham Ḥayyim Jesurun, the Hakham of the Portuguese congregation in Hamburg (gravestone) (Jewish Encyclopedia).

One of the more illustrious members of this important family who lived in the colonies was Hakham Raphael Jesurun, the second resident of the Rabbi's house at 26-28 Kuiperstraat, in Curaçao.  Hakham Jesurun was born in Hamburg to the Hamburg Hakham Moses Jesurun, and had been a star pupil in Amsterdam's yeshivot.  His wife was Rachel Sasportas, the granddaughter of Hakham Jacob Sasportas of Amsterdam. The gravestone of Hakham Jesurun (1748) was engraved with a depiction of an angel approaching the distinctive portal of the Snoa: two Doric columns with a verse from Psalms 118:20 above the lintel:This is the gate of the LORD; the righteous shall enter into it" (Arbell 140; Emmanuel 296-7).

 Detail from Gravestone of Haham Jesurun, Gravestone 7h1, Beit Haim Blenheim, Curaçao (Jewish Atlantic World Database)
 Biblical Verse on Western Facade of Mikvé Israel Synagogue, Willemstad, Curaçao (Jewish Atlantic World Database)

Here is a partial list of some of the ports in which the family lives in the 17th-19th centuries, along with gravestones of selected family members (they also lived in St. Thomas and Panama, though I don't have any photos from there):
Detail of Gravestone of Esther Hannah Jessurun, Hamburg, daughter-in-law of Mose Hayyim Jessurun and sister-in-law of Hakham Raphael Jesurun.

Here are some houses associated with the Family:
House bought in 1880 by Elias Jesurun Henriquez, Scharlooweg 37, Scharloo Jewish Atlantic World Database
 Are you related to this illustrious family?  If so please post comments with any links that you have that others might find helpful!


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