Italian Jewish Roots and Surname Research
The Italian Jewish Cultural Center of Calabria (IjCCC) is an international organization based in Calabria, the southernmost region of Italy. Founded by Rabbi Barbara Aiello, whose Jewish ancestry includes B’nai Anusim (Italians whose ancestors were forced into adult baptism and Christian conversion during Inquisition times), is the founding director of the IjCCC, an organization dedicated to help those with Italian heritage determine if their family surnames indicate Italian Jewish roots. Although the IjCCC does not establish a blood line, our staff initiates a search of Italian family surnames to determine a Jewish connection.
Staff combs through ancient Inquisition records, searching for matches between family surnames and Jewish religious persecution. For example, in Rabbi Barbara’s family’s the surname “GRANDE” is prominent. Research determined that families named GRANDE, coming from the same towns and villages as Rabbi Aiello’s family members, were arrested and tortured for “judaizing,” practicing Judaism in secret.
We know that during World War II, Nazis kept meticulous records of the Jews they arrested and murdered. Five hundred years earlier, officials of the Inquisition did the same thing. Church officials listed individuals suspected of being Jewish and often described in detail the nature of the “crime,” (such as lighting Shabbat candles or keeping kosher dietary laws) and the penalty imposed (flogging, torture, and often public burning).
Historians have determined that nearly 50 percent of the population of Sicily and southern Italy has Italian Jewish roots and was once Jewish. For clients who contract with the IjCCC, our staff works to determine a Jewish surname connection and if this connection is found, detailed information is shared with the family via a detailed research report.
Based on your (IjCCC Italian surname research) report of the 8 last names I provided you with, 7 were found to be present in inquisition and even (found) in Holocaust archives. Following that lead, I took a DNA test and you were spot on. It turns out that the percentage of Italian in me is equal to the percentage of Jewish ancestry (Sephardi and Ashkenazi combined). Along with that, there were Sardinian, Iberian, North European, North African and Middle Eastern components.
I believe it’s safe to assume that my ancestors wandered quite a bit, maybe attempting to preserve their faith and identity. I find it sad that I might have gone through this life without knowing anything of my otherwise forgotten origins. I feel blessed for having been inspired to look into this. Thanks for your help. Your work is so meaningful. ~Laura H.
A partial list of Italian Jewish surnames:
- De Rose
- De Masi
- De Pasquale
- De Mayo
- Del Vecchio
- Del Giudice
- De Sarro
- Di Giacomo
- Di Giovanni
- Di Matteo
- De Pascali
- Di Nola
- Di Napoli
- Di Lentini
- Di Rende…
Professor Vincenzo Villella
Only at the IjCCC can you find this unique team of professionals. Mascaro, Villella and Aiello, along with ad hoc specialists and consultants represent a combination of education, knowledge and experience that offers the opportunity for your family history to come to life. There is no other team like us anywhere else in the world – this is your team of Italian Jewish Roots Surname Researchers.
“I wanted to inform you that you absolutely got it right. My maternal line the Vizzi’s are infact Sephardic, as more DNA tests came in and confirmed it. That was a shock to me and you clearly had the evidence to back it up”.~Anthony L
“Thank you so much for providing me with this information, I have shared it with my family and they were quite happy to see the results. I have spent the last ten years trying to figure out where and what happened to our ancestors and this has helped us greatly. There is no way to find this info without your help, and we would be lost without it. So thank you again for your time and ability to find this info” ~ Scott