Surname Camops- Garica in Ottman Jewish culture was a hybrid, with two dominant components: Jewish-Iberian and Jewish-Ottoman added to the early local one, of which we know little. A few more sentences about the first group: Jews whose provenance was in the Iberian Peninsula accounted for the majority of Ottoman Jewry, especially in Anatolia and the Balkans. The exiles brought their written and oral cultural heritage with them, and their descendants preserved it. The continuous stream of immigrants from the Iberian Peninsula to the Levant, and their return there to Judaism, served to reinforce the memory of the past and to preserve the ties to the old homeland among the veteran Sephardi population. Those who arrived during the 17th century undoubtedly contributed to keeping those who preceded them abreast of developments in Iberian culture, such as poetry and theater, stories, and the language. Graduates of universities in Spain and Portugal brought with them scientific knowledge, particularly in the field of medicine, together with religious skepticism and a tendency to reject rabbinical authority. With time, the memory of the expulsion, murders, and persecutions faded and nostalgic longing increased for their imagined Iberian past, painted in glowing colors, and more so as time passed. The Spanish heritage could be discerned in several cultural spheres: First and foremost the Judeo-Spanish language that became one of the unifying outward signs of the Sephardi diaspora in the Orient until the 20th century. Other aspects are various genres of folklore, the literary output in various genres, Halakhah and customs, beliefs, values and manners of behavior, political and organizational patterns, and to a minor degree material culture and cuisine.

Whereas from the aspects of social standing and their religion the Jews were a sub-group in the heterogeneous Ottoman society, in effect they formed an integral part of the urban population and were well integrated into city life. The dynamic reality in the cities encouraged minority cultures’ integration into the majority civilization and the process of borrowing from it. Several factors were responsible for the deep and variegated influence of Ottoman urban society and its culture on Jewish culture in the domains of Ottoman Islam, notwithstanding the fact that some of them were huge communities, centers of Torah learning, power, and wealth; which might have wished to ghettoize themselves.


Surname Saavedra, according to historian Luce López-Baralt , and that the author began using after his captivity comes from “shaibedraa” which in Arabic dialect is Manco . This article uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is de Cervantes and the second or maternal family name is Saavedra.

According to Américo Castro , Daniel Eisenberg, and other Cervantists, Cervantes had conversational ancestry along both family lines, his father being a surgeon (“practitioner”), his grandfather a lawyer, and his great-grandfather a ragpicker; on the contrary, his last biographer, Jean Canavaggio , affirms that it is not proven and compares it with the documents that support this ancestry without a doubt for Mateo Alemán ; In any case, the Cervantes family was highly regarded in Córdoba and held important positions there and nearby.

His paternal grandparents were the law degree Juan de Cervantes and Mrs. Leonor de Torreblanca , daughter of Juan Luis de Torreblanca , a doctor from Cordoba; his father Rodrigo de Cervantes was born in Alcalá de Henaresby chance: his father had his job there then. He was trained to be a surgeon, a job more like the old practitioner title than our idea of ​​a doctor. Don Rodrigo was unable to continue studies not only because of his deafness, but also because of the restless and itinerant nature of his family, which came to move between Córdoba, Seville, Toledo, Cuenca, Alcalá de Henares, Guadalajara and Valladolid, as far as it is known; However, he learned surgery from his maternal grandfather from Cordoba and from the stepfather, also a doctor, who succeeded him, without ever having an official title. Around 1551, Rodrigo de Cervantes moved with his family to Valladolid. For debts, he was imprisoned for several months and his assets were seized. In 1556 he went to Córdoba to collect the inheritance of Juan de Cervantes, grandfather of the writer, and flee from the creditors.

There are no precise data on the first studies of Miguel de Cervantes, who, without a doubt, did not reach university. It seems that he could have studied in Valladolid, Córdoba or Seville .

Cervantes: Jewish roots?

In April, the European Jewish Press carried a story by Linda Jimenez Glassman – Was Miguel de Cervantes a Converso? – focusing on historian Abraham Haim’s belief that the author of “Don Quixote de la Mancha” was from a Converso family.

Converso means a descendant of a family or individual that was forced to convert to another religion, usually Catholicism in the sense of the Spanish usage. The other term used commonly in Hebrew is bnai anousim (children of the forced).

MADRID (EJP)—Historian Abraham Haim believes that Miguel de Cervantes’ classic “Don Quixote de la Mancha” is the product of “the silence experienced by a Jewish soul.”

A specialist in Sephardic history and culture, Haim made the comment during a lecture “Traces of Judaism in Don Quixote” organized by Casa Sefarad-Israel in Madrid at the Cervantes Institute.

Among Haim’s examples in the book, which was written a century after the 1492 Expulsion from Spain:

-“Don Quixote” (16th century) contains numerous references to the Kabbalah and Jewish traditions. The only possible explanation, says Haim, is that Cervantes was a Converso – Jews forced to convert to Christianity during persecutions in 1391 or other times or those who converted to avoid expulsion in 1492. Many continued secret Jewish practices for decades if not centuries and into contemporary times.

-Cervantes’ birth records were probably forged, claims Haim.

-Cervantes was familiar with Catholic texts, but also included “coded” aspects of Jewish tradition to avoid the Inquisition’s notice, but understood by Jews.

-Cervantes says Don Quixote’s diet includes “duelos y quebrantos” (literally, suffering and brokenness) on Saturdays. According to the story, this term is used today by Moroccan Jews for eggs and grains (or lentils), but also refers to the sadness of those expelled.

-The “Festival of Tents” is described, in a reference to Succot: families from town build a cabin and young women invite the characters to join them. Haim says the word “huesped” (guest) is related to “ushpizim” (Aramaic, guest).

-Book burnings are mentioned. Asks Haim, “What books did the Inquisition burn? “Those with references to Judaism.”

-In Chapter IX, speaking in the first person, Cervantes describes walking through Toledo’s old Jewish-Arab section, the Alcana, where he bought some old papers. He thought they were Arabic but a translator said they were written in “a better and older” language. This is a clear reference to Hebrew, believes Haim.

-The most important evidence, says Haim, is the nearly literal translation of an entire page of Talmud. Sancho Panza passes judgment in a dispute between two men over a debt payment; the people call him “a new Solomon” because of his wisdom.

For another article on Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547-1616) addressing similar themes, click here. “Cervantes, Don Quijote, and the Hebrew Scriptures,” is by Kevin S. Larsen, Professor of Spanish and Adjunct Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Wyoming. His article, “Conversos,” appeared in the Encyclopedia of Judaism.