The Faraggi Families and their descendants in the Balkans

(Istanbul, Salonika, Volos, Tricala, Seres, Kastoria and Monastir) and Italy.


Moshe Elie Faraggi, Omer Israel
Older version

The Covo family, the family of my father's mother
The Faraggi site


The origin of the Faraggi surname is unclear. Written in Hebrew characters (פרג'י) it can be pronounced in many ways. According to Encyclopedia Judaica (EJ) the origin of the name could be either from Arabic FARAG or from a town in Spain FRAGA. According to Gugenheim the origin of the name comes from Arabic Farache, Faradj, Farag, and Faraj, which, depending where the family stayed, took the form of Farachi, Farage, Faraggi, Faragi, Fraggi, Fragi Faragie, Farach, Farash, Faradchi, Faradji and Faraci. The name Farag is found for the first time in the 9th century in Sicily (merchants). In the 13th century a physician to Charles I king of Anjou, Moses ben Solomon Farag translated from Arabic a medical book. In the Spanish book of Bonnin "Sangre Judia" (Jewish Blood), Barcelona, Flor Del Viento Ediciones (1998) which includes a list of names found at the Santo Officio of the Inquisition, for Jews or new-Christian (15th and 16th centuries) the names Farach and Farache are listed. Mathilde Tagger who provided the above information wrote "This information of Farach and/or Farache in Spanish archives shows that the Spanish Farache, pronounced there as Faratshay (ג' is used for the transliteration of CH=TSH and DJ, the final E is transliterated in Hebrew by the letter Yod. From A. Laredo, "Les noms de Juifs du Maroc", Madrid 1978), and the name Faraggi as Faradji. Both names are transliterated in Ladino as פ'אראג'י. This is the real proof that the Farache and Faraggi are two variants of the same name. The original name was Farache since there is no sound for dji in Spanish and people in Italy or the ex-Ottoman Empire pronounced it as Faraggi". In the 16th century in Salonika four branches of the Faraggi family belonged to the following synagogues: "old Sicily or Sicilia Yashan", "Aragon" "Portugal" and "Etz Ha-Haim". In the last synagogue it is stated that they were "visitors" which means, according to the author, that they previously belonged to another synagogue (or were "marranos") and join the Etz Ha-Haim synagogue later. In the two books on the jewish cemetery in Salonika the first FARAGGI mentioned is Joseph who died in 1544. [(1) Michael Molho, "Tombstones of The Jew Cemetery of Salonika", The Institute for research on Jews in Salonika, Tel-Aviv 1975. (2) I.S. Emanuel, "Precious Stones of The Jews of Salonika", Vols. 1 and 2, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, (1963)]. Also, in the book of M. Franco "Essai sur l'Histoire des Israelites de l'Empire Ottoman, 1897, Durlacher, Paris, pp.  57", there is a story on a Marrane, Juda FARAGGI, who was sent in 1566 by the Jewish community in Pesaro to the Ottoman empire (Salonika, Constantinople, Adrianople, Brousse and Moree) to persuade them to stop their commerce with the city of Ancona. This action was taken at the request  of the duke of Pesaro-Urbino, Guido Ubaldo, after the "autodafe of Ancona" where maranes were burned alive. This duke saved some maranes because his economic interests to shift the commerce between the Jews of the Ottoman Empire and Ancona to Pesaro. Also, in the Moment magazine (11/1988) a review article tells the story of Isaac FARAJI (this is how the magazine spelled the surname), a Jewish scholar and manuscript collector who was the owner of 15th-century medical text written in Hebrew, Latin and Arabic. All three languages were written in Hebrew characters. The book was written by a Jewish physician (Joseph ben Isaac) and was first bound in the 17th century by its owner. It was later bought by an English booksellers and manuscripts collector (George Tomason) and brought to England. Parliament purchased the manuscript and presented them to Cambridge University in 1648. The manuscript is now in the Cambridge University Library (Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research, Stefan C. Reif, director). More information on the Isaac Faragi manuscripts collection (26 items on Medicine, Halacha, and Kabbalah) can be found in Stefan C. Reif's book "Hebrew manuscripts at the Cambridge University Library". All the books are in Hebrew, including the first name and the surname, except one, which is in Persian. In the book the author tells us the story of the spelling of the surname. First and until 1914 it was spelled as PRAGI later Israel Abrahams adopting Steinschneider's conclusion (M. Steinschneider, An Introduction to the Arabic Literature of Jews; Chap. 14, Family names, Jewish Quarterly Review, 10, 1898, 11, 1899) about the Arabic nature (but there is another alternative, see above) of the surname concluded that a "more pronunciation and transliteration" the spelling should be Faragi. However, may be Abrahams was unaware that the person lived in ITALY and ג' is spelled there as ggi.  In June 2001 I visited Cambridge and saw some of the medical books. These books were bound by Isaac Faraggi in the 17th century red calf with gold ornamentation and stamped יצחק פראג'י יצ"ו. The same Hebrew spelling is also found on the sides of the books. This surname can be spelled in ITALIAN only as FRAGGI or FARAGGI. This is why the Judeo-Spanish spelling (Hebrew characters) were  פ'ראג'י= FRAGGI and פ'אראג'י = FARAGGI. The fact that the owner surname is found on the sides of the books indicates that Isaac Faraggi, supporting his description by the Commons' Journal as "learned Rabbi", read them. Today, in Italy, there are many Faraggi (northern part) and Fraggi (southern part and Sicily) families most of them are Christians. The information collected from the Ellis Island Data base corroborates this conclusion. May be they are descendants of the 16th century Maranos who kept their new religion. More recently we learned that in 1780 Simon Faraggi appeared in the French consulate documents as Simon Farach (Farache) and some of the Faraggi and Fraggi families previous name was Farache. In the 1860 the Faraggi/Fraggi families were very active in the creation and development of the Alliance Israelite Universelle (AIU) branches and schools in Salonika, Volos, Seres, Larissa and later in Monastir. According to Aron Rodrigue "French Jews, Turkish Jews" Indiana University Press (1990) the initiative was taken primarily by Jews of Italian origin which may also indicate the Italian origin of the Faraggi/Fraggi families. By the end of the 19th century most of the Fraggi/Fragi families in the Ottoman Empire adopted the Faraggi surname. Also, we suspect that because of the American pronunciation all the Faragi families (Italians emigration to the US) spelled their surname in Italy as Faraggi. The Faraçi families in today Turkey are also members of the Faraggi family.


This list was prepared from several unconnected trees of the Faraggi Family prepared by Anne-Marie Rychner Faraggi and myself. Intermarriages between persons of different trees (lists 1, 2 and 4) could be found. It seems that all the family branches had lived in the 18th century in the Ottoman empire and Italy. By the middle of the 19th century and the 20th century a major part of the family emigrated to France, Italy and Israel some to the USA, Canada, Chili and Argentina. The trees were defined according to the first person in the tree. The Simon tree started with Simon Faraggi who was  in 1778 a drogman (translator) at the French consulate in Salonika (list No. 1). The Ovadia tree (list No. 2). The Raphael tree from Volos, Thessalia and later in Monastir (Bitola) Macedonia (list No. 3). The Moise-Abraham tree from Salonika and later in Istanbul Turkey (list No. 4). The Italian tree which started with a Faraggi who emigrated to Italy, probably at the beginning of the 19th century, from the south part of Yugoslavia (Monastir?) via Trieste to La Spezia. Later information was obtained from the Bulletins of the Alliance Israelite Universelle (started in 1864) found in its library in Paris (BAIU). From Raphael Frezis (Volos Greece) letter and book “The History of the Jewish Community in Volos, Thesalia, Greece” (in Greek). Letters and trees from Moises Hasson (Santiago Chile), Ray and Gloria Fraggi, (California USA), Jack Faraggi (Montreal Canada), Raphael and Regina Faraggi (Tel Aviv, Israel), Haim Crispin (France), Bob Bedford (NY,USA), Olivier Kaiser (belgium), Ani Mari Faraggi (Faraçi) (Istanbul Turkey), Benson Hattem of Belvedere, CA USA and Mathilde Tagger, Jerusalem, Israel. In 1998 Yad Vashem (Jerusalem Israel) have published the books "Pinkas Hakehilot Greece" and "Pinkas Hakehilot Yugoslavia" (in Hebrew). In 2001 iinformation of the Faraggi families emigration to the USA has been provided by the Ellis Island Data base.  


Acknowledgement: We wish to thank Mathilde Tagger, Raphael Frezis, Moises Hasson, Ray and Gloria Fraggi, Jack Faraggi Bob Bedford, Raphael and Regina Faraggi, Haim Crispin, Olivier Kaiser and Ani Mari Faraggi for valuable information they have provided. Special thanks are to Moshe David Faraggi originally from Volos, Greece and now in Tel Aviv, Israel, for the translation of parts of Raphael Frezis book.


Remarks: The number(s) appearing with each person indicates the belonging of this person to one or more trees. These are:  (1) The Simon tree; (2) The Ovadia tree; (3) The Raphael tree; (4) The Moise tree; (5) The Italian tree and the new information from Jack Faraggi; (6) New information by Raphael Frezis and (7) Ray and Gloria Fraggi on the Faraggi and Fraggi families in Volos; (8) BAIU (# year of publication); (9) Moises Hasson list from Chile: (10) Bob Bedford list from the USA; (11) Olivier Kaiser list; (12) Raphael and Regina Faraggi tree; (13) Ani Mari Faraggi (14) Zamila Kolonomos book (Nazi list of deportees); (15) Haim Crispin; (16) Gabriel Arie autobiography;  (17) Yad Vashem's "Pinkas Hakehilot Greece"; (18) Ellis Island Data base; (19) Benson Hatem. Dates with the approximate mark (CA) is an estimated year with an error which could be (specially in later generations) very big. First names repetition is common in Sepharadic families because of the tradition to name children after their living grandparents. The name of the father is given as a second name as the tradition in the old Sepharadic families for boys. Although uncommon, it is also given to girls. Towns where these people lived (or living) is given in actual countries.


Abbreviations: FR, France; NJ. New Jersey USA; CH, Switzerland; Mac., Macedonia

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