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Rap(p)aport, Rap(p)oport or Rapa Porto (Hebrew: רפפורט) is a family name from an Italian (Jewish) Kohenitic pedigree. It takes its origins in the Rapa family of Porto located in Province of Mantova, Italy.

A second hypothesis

Another possible explication could relate Rapaport surname with the Italian toponym Paraporto, whose translation in some European languages should sound like "Paraport" meaning to shield or to protect a port (deriving from Latin verb parare portus).

In concrete terms, the toponym Paraportus might correspond with the homonymous abatized port (a coastal port with a bawn), situated inside the walled ramparts of the Sicilian City of Messina.

Paraporto, in fact, was the common name of its overcrowded medieval Jewish Quarter that rose originally by the Strait in order to defend the nearby strands but even to impend scenically over the piers of its legendary scythe-shaped harbour.

Nowadays it identifies an urban district of this city, by the sea, which is still named this way.

"Rapa" might be the simple metathesis of "Para", adopted by a few Messinian Jews only for the sake of remembering the natal Sicilian birthplace they were forced to leave. The name of Paraporto dates surely back before 1450 and replaced the primal Norman designation of "Giudecca".

Earliest history

The names of Rapa or Rappe ha-Kohen(-Tzedeq) (Rapa Katz) are met with in about 1450. At that time Meshullam Kusi (abbreviated from "Jekuthiel") Rapa ha-Kohen Tzedeq, the earliest known member of the family, lived on the Rhine, probably in Mainz. Several decades later the family disappeared from Germany, probably on account of the Jews' expulsion from Mayence on October 29, 1462. In 1467, in Mestre, near Venice, the wealthy Chayyim Rappe is found as alms' collector for the poor of the Holy Land. In Venice, the physician R. Moses Rap was exempted in 1475 from wearing the Jew's badge.

In the middle of the sixteenth century, appeared in Italy a Kohenitic family of the name of Porto. On March 18, 1540, R. Isaac Porto ha-Kohen obtained from the Duke of Mantua permission to build an Ashkenazic synagogue. The name of the family was not derived from Oporto (Portugal) nor from Fürth (Bavaria) as some authors have suggested, but instead from Porto, near Mantua, where undoubtedly the above-named Isaac Porto ha-Kohen lived. An alliance between the Rabe and Porto families explains the combination of the two family names in Rapoport; indeed, in 1565, officiating in the above-mentioned synagogue of Mantua, there is found a Rabbi Solomon ben Menahem ha-Kohen Rapa of Venice, while a Rabbi Abraham Porto ha-Kohen (1541-76) was parnas of the community. See Rapa.

During the same time period, a branch of the family settled in Prague in central Europe, as evidenced by burials with the name Porta in 1589 and Port in 1598.

Eastern European branches

The Polish branch of the family explains its name through the following legend: one Easter a certain Jew, to prevent his enemies from smuggling the body of a Christian child into his house, closed all possible entrances and openings except the chimney. Down the chimney however, the dreaded corpse fell, but when a crowd stormed the house nothing but a partridge (Old German, "Rephuhn" or "Raphuhn") was found in the fireplace. But the "Von den Jungen Raben" (the house shield name of Judengasse "From the young crow (cf. raven)") in the signature of Abraham Menahem ha-Kohen Rapa von Port at the end of his Pentateuch commentary, and the additional fact that the coat of arms of the family bears a raven, clearly show that signifies "Rabe" (Middle High German, "Rappe"). The family name, therefore, at the end of the sixteenth century seems to be clearly established as Ha-Kohen Rabe. Part of the Polish branch changed their name into Wrona, which is Polish for crow.

By the middle of the seventeenth century authors belonging to the Rapa-Port family were living in Poland and Lithuania, the name having meanwhile undergone the following modifications: Rapiport, Rapoport, Rapperport, and Rappert. The family spread principally from Cracow and Lemberg (Lviv); in the latter place, in 1584, was born the famous Talmudist Abraham Rapa von Port (called also Schrenzel). In 1650 Rapoports lived in Dubno and Krzemeniec; in the eighteenth century descendants of R. Judah Rapoport are found in Smyrna and Jerusalem. About 1750 there were two Rapoports in Dyhernfurth (Silesia) — one named Israel Moses and the other R. Meïr: the former came from Pińczów, the latter from Krotoschin. Both found employment in the printing establishment at Dyhernfurth.

A notable scholar of this branch included R. Khaim haKohen Rapoport, who lived in Lviv and died there in 1771. He was one of the key "talmudists" involved in the Frankist debates set up by the Archbishop Dembowski in 1757. R. Khaim's descendants include the Rapoport-Bick (rabbinic dynasty). R. Khaim's pedigree is known from his personal and his descendants' writings. It is reconstructed here:

  • R Yakov Moshe Kohen Rapa (1400s)
  • R. Abraham Menakhem Kohen Rapa
  • R. Gershon Kohen Rapa (b. 1538), Porto, Italy
  • R. Simcha Katz Rapa
  • R. Moses Jeremiah Katz Rapoport, rabbi in Vienna
  • R. Meir haKohen Rapoport (d. 1600), rabbi in Belz
  • R. Nakhman Rapoport (d. 1674), rabbi in Kamenets-Podolsky, Poznań, Dubno
  • R. Simkha haKohen Rapoport (d. 1717)
  • R. Khaim haKohen Rapoport (d. 1771), head of the Jewish Court in Lviv
  • R. Arieh Lieb Rapoport (d. 1759), rabbi in Prezwork
  • R. Dov Berish Rapoport (d. 1823), rabbi in Medzhybizh, married into the Emden family
  • Rapoport-Bick (rabbinic dynasty)

Another Rapoport branch was one of Krotoschin's sons who settled in Breslau and Liegnitz adopted, in 1818, the name of Warschauer. During the last 450 years, members of the family have been found in eighty different cities of Europe and Asia.

Surname "Rappaport"

Surname "Rapaport"

Surname "Rappoport"

Surname "Rapoport"

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