Studies in the history of the jews of Morocco

Studies in the history of the jews of Morocco

David Coreos was the scion of an ancient family. Few Jewish families can be compared with the Coreos: it has a genealogy that is known for almost eight centuries and has produced an array of distinguished men. In Spain and later in other countries the name Corcos was borne by respected rabbis, influential merchants, by men who were counsellors and aides to kings, and by leaders of the Jewish community

According to an old tradition the family is called after a townlet in the province of Valladolid, in Castile. However, the name possibly appears as Corcos of Carcosa in an old funerary inscription found in Tortosa and dating perhaps from the 10th century. A branch of the family lived in the 13th and 14th centuries in Catalonia and was indeed called Carcosa. If the Carcosa in Catalonia and Aragón and the Corcos in Castile (and others called Carcause, etc.) were branches of the same family, which is quite possible, the family has existed for one thousand years

The first member of the family in Castile whose name and activities are known to us lived in the second half of the 13th century. This was Abraham Corcos, who won a reputation as a great scholar. A son of his, Solomon, who was a student of R. Judah ben Asher, lived in Avila and, in 1332, wrote a commentary on the astronomical work Y'sod Olam of Isaac Israeli. A con­temporary of this Solomon Corcos was a namesake, another Solomon Coreos, who was likewise a rabbinical scholar and corresponded with R. Solomon ben Adret. The annals of Spanish Jewry in the 14th century contain the name of several Corcos who lived in Briviesca, in Torquemada and in some towns of Aragón. Yomtobh Corcos, who lived in Monzón, was one of the Jewish delegates who took part in the disputation of Tortosa in 1413-14

When the Jews were expelled from Spain the Corcos spread over several countries. Some went to Portugal, like the rich Judah ben Abraham who formerly lived in Zamora. Others settled in Rome, where they were prominent in the Jewish community for two centuries. Solomon ben David Corcos was a dayyan in Rome, where he signed documents in 1536, 1540 and 1542. His sons Elijah and Joshua, who founded a bank in 1537, were leaders of the Jewish community in the middle and second half of the 16th century. Elijah was also a rabbinical scholar. Juridical decisions of his are still extant. In the first half of the 17th century Hezekiah Manoah (called also Rafael) ben Solomon Corcos was a dayyan in Rome. He was appointed in 1620 and died before 1650. He was an outstanding scholar and handed down juridical decisions. In the official register of the Jewish community he is called "the excellent judge, the exalted one, the great rabbi, the unique in his times, whose name spread in all parts of Italy and beyond its frontiers". A grandson (a son of his daughter), Manoah Hezekiah Hayyim (in Italian, Tranquillo Vita) Corcos, was a well-known rabbi. He was appointed rabbi in 1702 and held the post until his death in 1730. He was a stout champion of Judaism and took steps to oppose the activities of the renegade Paolo Medici. He wrote several treatises rebutting the accusations of anti-Semites, and claiming civic rights for the Jews, and was also the author of a book on the M'zuza (printed in Rimini, 1713). Other members of the Corcos family held posts as rabbis in Sinigaglia, Venice and other cities of Italy. The statements of some Christian scholars about the conversion of several members of the Corcos family in Rome are highly questionable

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