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Berdugo Family Origins
(from Loeb/Berdugo family site)
also click on Eternal House of David button above

Family name of many distinguished rabbis in
Morocco, chiefly in Meknes of Davidic Ancestry. They left Spain and Portugal (Pontevedra province) around the time of the Inquisition (1492). Click here for the Berdugo family origins

According to Rafael Gonzalez Berdugo, the town of Arevalo was the ancestral origin of the Berdugos. The Jewish population was so important in Arevalo, that out of a total amount of 14,000 inhabitants, 4,000 were Jews.

In the Middle Ages one of the political powers was in Burgundia or Berungia (or Burgundy). When Jews emigrated from France to Spain they did not have surname yet. Things being so, in Spain they asked them where they had come from. Those coming from Berungia were called Berugos, later Berdugos.

When the Inquisition took place, some Berdugos converted to Catholicism and stayed in Spain. The rest remained being Jews and left for Morocco. Today most Berdugos are Jews and most Verdugos are not. (This confusion between "b" and "v" was very common, for they sound the same in Spanish and are both the same letter in Hebrew).

In the Pontevedra province of Spain is a town named O Verdugo (in the Council of La Lama about 25 km from Pontevedra city) and also a river with the same name Rio Verdugo. In Tuy (Pontevedra) there was a ghetto called Tora de los Judios.

15th Century Berdugo Palace, Aranda, Spain The civil monument most representative of Aranda is a Berdugo palace. It is a symbol of the glorious age of palace life. It was constructed in the 15th century by Martin Durango. The restoration and conservation of the abode was been praised by many experts. The current owner Don Fernando Redondo Berdugo received the silver medal from the Spanish Association of Friends of Castillians for the palace's artistic sence. It is considered one of the most remarkable private homes of the 15th century. Its founder was named Chevalier de la Bande and Gardien du Principe Don Enrique by King Juan II. During the 16th century, the palace was transferred to the Tamayo family by the marriage with Dona Maria Durango. Finally, towards the end of the 18th century, the palace passed to the hands of the Berdugo family by marriage.

One book mentions that most of the jews of the region (Galicia, Spain) were "converted" and did not actually leave Spain until the middle of the 16th century.


According to Laredo, and Eisenbeth the name Berdugo (written Beth-Yod-Resh-Dalet-Vav-Gimel-Vav in Hebrew or Verdugo in Portugese) means "bud" from the hebrew "zemach". Name given to children as a sign that they will grow. Became a family name in Morocco and elsewhere in the Ottomon empire.

According to Raphael Berdugo, the family's name is a deformation of Verge di Oro, the golden scepter or sharbit hazahav, in Portugese. According to family tradition supported by an official document, the family descends from the Rabbi Boustani Gaon, descendant of King David. (One of his books was entitled The Golden Scepter.) (According to David Kelley, Boustani means sprout in Persian, just as does the name Berdugo in Portugese, for Boustani was believed to be the last surviving branch of the royal family of Judah.)

According to Rabbi Shalom Messas (chief Sephardic rabbi of Jerusalem) in its transformation from Portugese, the letter "B" was confused with "P" and the letter "L" disappeared. Thus, Berdugo refers to the Pontevedra province in Spain

(from Encyclopaedia Judaica p519)
family name of many distinguished rabbis in Morocco, chiefly in Meknes.
According to tradition, the family was of Davidic descent through the exilarch Bustana,

(or Hiyya) Berdugo (d.1617) endorsed an ordinance in Fez in 1605, later left for Tetuan and was nominated deputy rabbi there in 1614.

A YAHYA Berdugo was known in Meknes about the same time but it is not certain whether they are identical or not.

MOSES BEN ABRAHAM, called "Mashbir" (c. 1679 - 1730), was head of the rabbinical court in Meknes, where the Berdugos settled after leaving Fez. Famous for his sense of justice (compilation Or ha-Hayyim, to Deut. 1:15), he was the author of Rosh Mashbir, novellae on the Pentateuch and on some of the Talmud tractates (1840); Kenaf Renanim, commentaries and novellae to the Bible (1909), and Kenaf Renanim II, an anthology of homilies (1932); and Divrei Moshe, responsa (1947). Other unpublished writings are at the National Library, Jerusalem (Ms. Heb. 8º 1446), Ben-Zvi Institute, Jerusalem (Ms. 736), and in private possession.

JUDAH BEN JOSEPH 1 (1690 - 1744), dayyan in Meknes (1730) following MOSES B. ABRAHAM Berdugo the Mashbir, was the author of Mayim Amukkim, a commentary on the Pentateuch and haftorot, (1937). Some of his responsa have been published in the responsa of Jacob ibn Zur.

MORDECAI BEN JOSEPH. "Ha Marbiz" (1948): others are still extant in manuscript.

RAPHAEL (1747 -1821). son of this Mordecai, dayyan and scholar, was the author of the following works: Mishpatim Yesharim, responsa (2 vols., 1891), Torot Emet. commentary on the Shulhan Arukh (1939); bound with he latter are Kizzur ha-Takkanot, and Minhagei Terefot. and Mei Menushot, a commentary on the Pentateuch (2 vols., 1900 - 42). Other works are still in manuscript, including translations of the Bible from Genesis to the end of Isaiah into Arabic. under the title, Leshon Limmudim,

MAIMON "the Mevin" (1767 - 1824), son of Raphael, was a dayyan and the author of responsa and other works including Lev Mevin and Penei Mevin (issued together 1951). His novellae to the Talmud are in manuscript.

PETHAHIAH MORDECAI BEN JEKUTHIEL ([764—1820) was the author of Nofet Zufim,. responsa (1938), and Pittuhei Hotam. a commentary on the Talmud (unpublished).

JACOB 1783 -1843), his brother, dayyan and poet, was known for his stand against the rabbis of Tiberias in favor of the Jerusulem rabbis in the controversy of 1836 over participation in halukkah. His works include Shufrei de-Ya’akov, responsa (1910); Gallei Amikta, a commentary on Mayim Amukkim of Judah Berdugo (1911); Kol Yaakov. liturgical poems (1844). To’afot Re'em or Karnei Re'em. on Rashi and Elijah * Mizrahi, is still in manuscript (Ms. Jerusalem National Library, Ms. Heb. 8º 3839, and 1448).

JOSEPH (1802 - 1854), dayyan in Meknes, was a scholar whose works include a lexicon of Hebrew grammatical roots and their derivatives, Ketonet Yosef (3 vols. 1922 - 43). Other works arc unpublished.

JACOB BEN MORDECAI (d. 1901), brother of Joseph, was an av bet din in Meknes. SOLOMON BEN DANIEL (1854 - 1906), halakhic authority and poet, was a rabbi in Meknes and in 1897 was appointed rabbi of the community. He was the author of Dei Hashev, Em le-Masoret, responsa, a collection of laws and Torah novellae; appended are Musar Haskel and Shirei Shelomo (1950)

JEKUTHIEL HAYViM BEN ELISHA ~(I858 - I940), great-grandson of Mordecai b.Joseph, was born in Rabat, and appointed dayyan there in 1893. The French government appointed him in 1922 a member of the supreme bet din (court of appeal) which had its seat in Rabat, the capital of Morocco. In 1934 he deputized for Raphael *Ankawa, chief rabbi or Morocco, during his Illness, and he succeeded him after his death.. In 1935 he was made president of the Supreme bet din.

JOSHUA BEN JACOB (1878 - 1953) became chief rabbi of Meknes in 1904 and in 1941 chief rabbi of Morocco, where he served until his death. He had a strong personality and on a number of occasions was in conflict with the leaders of’ the Church and with members of the French government, by whom he was respected. The communal rules and regulations adopted during this time were published in the pamphlets of "The Council ol’ Moroccan Rabbis" (Casablanca). None of his books was published.