Paloma ha-Leví Benveniste

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Paloma ha-Leví Benveniste

Birthplace: Guadalcanal, Sevilla, AL, Spain
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Rabbi Yishaaq ha-Leví and María Benveniste
Partner of Infante Fadrique Enríquez de Castilla, I Señor de Haro
Mother of Alonso Enríquez de Castilla, 1er. Almirante Mayor de Castilla, Señor de Medina de Rio Seco

Managed by: Juan Pablo García Silva
Last Updated:

About Paloma ha-Leví Benveniste

Speculated as the same person as Yonati bat Gedalia. See the Geni discussion.

She is variously described as a Moor or a baptized Jew. Paloma presents a sticky genealogical problem. There are a host of references online that claim that her father was Gedaliah, a descendant of the Jewish Exilarchs of Babylon, who furthermore claimed descent from King David.

However, many, if not most of the connections in this string come from the research of David Hughes, who claims to be a professional genealogist, and also claims that the "First King of America" was descended from Neptune.

"Does the Ibn Yahya Family tapestry mention La Paloma?" The Tapestry does not mention Paloma, but the book by Eliakim Karmoly does mention "Yonati". Daughters are mentioned on the scroll insofar as numbers are concerned - in this case the scroll says

"Don Gedaliah a great scholar in Libson at 100 years old and he had three sons and seven daughters". One of the sons does not appear on the Tapestry because he converted to xtianity and became 'persona non grata'. Regardless, the text of Carmoly's book notes that one of the daughters was "called Paloma" and married an illegitimate son of 'Reyno de Portucale' "...although it does not name the illegitimate son, there was only one (1) as I recall -- Fadrique Afonso.

For the record there are other daughters named on the tapestry where room afforded it -- Don Yosef Hanasi had two (2) daughters named 1) Esther and 2) Reina. Don Gedaliah, who authored Shalshalet Hakabbalah, had two (2) daughters 1) Simha, and 2) Reina. The use of Spanish/Portuguese secular names is generally reflects their marriage to non-Jewish husbands...which was common among daughters of Jewish Courtiers and the illegitimate sons of bonded them into a caste rather than feuds.

Abraham Greenstein is an adjunct professor of Ancient Middle Eastern Languages at Claremont College in Los Angeles. Although I read Hebrew well, I wanted an objective eye to examine the text and provide independent translation. Professor Greenstein is probably the best person in the region to undertake the translation. and his translation confirms the Paloma connection.

Paloma is a secular spanish name meaning "Dove" - the Hebrew equivalent is "Yonati". This suggests that Yonati married a non-Jew and became known as "Paloma".

Alonso Enriquez remained hidden while living with his uncle Pedro I of Castile, who ordered the assassination of his father in 1358 in the Alcazar of Seville. The Portuguese chronicler, Fernando Lopez, wrote in connection with events that occurred in 1384, which the Admiral was the son of a Jew. The "Memorial of old things" attributed to the dean of Toledo, Diego de Castilla, Alonso said Fadrique was son aof a a Jewish resident of Guadalcanal called Paloma.

About Paloma bat Gedaliah - I had a heated debate with Victar regrading her. Below is the content of my evidence that PAloma was mother of Afonso de Albuquerque

"Afonso de Albuquerque was born in 1453 in Alhandra, near Lisbon] He is a descendant of the illegitimate relationship between Paloma bat Gedaliah and Fadrique.

Afonso de Albuquerque was the second son of Gonçalo de Albuquerque, Lord of Vila Verde dos Francos and Dona Leonor de Menezes. His father held an important position at court and was connected by remote illegitimate descent with the Portuguese monarchy. He was educated in mathematics and Latin at the court of Afonso V of Portugal, where he befriended Prince Joao, future king Joao II of Portugal.

When Afonso de Albuquerque sailed for Goa Coast of India he took Portuguese Jews as translators. Notably, he captured his cousin (Shlomo ibn Yahya) who was forcibly baptized as "Francisco de Albuquerque". Francisco de Albuquerque and Alexandre de Ataide (a distant cousin by birth), who accompanied his expeditions to Malacca in 1511 and to Aden in 1513.

Originating from Cairo also was the Jew Samuel (Samual Kastiel, nee ibn Yahya), used by Afonso de Albuquerque as his interpreter, who was called forth to translate the letter sent him by the king of Abyssinia (Barros II/VII, cap.VI: 339)11.

These Jewish linguists were not converted to xtianity, since there was an advantage in keeping them apart from their employer, the Portuguese Crown. This way they could maintain their contacts with different Jewish communities without risking to be ostracized by their coreligionists.

The situation changed when they intended to obtain properties and favors like Gaspar da Gama (Albuquerque e Pereira da Costa 1990: 312/313). As with Islamic society, conversion became then necessary as a first step in the acculturation of the individual and his social integration in the community, hoping simultaneously to seal his fidelity to the Crown.

It would seem to have worked for some individuals, even though the Portuguese testimonies, if anything over-zealous in their wish to report conversions to Christianity, need to be constantly confronted with complementary documentation. Francisco de Albuquerque, for example, solicited favors from D. Manuel and acquired the status of casado in Goa, where he fulfilled the duty of lingua.

However, and contrary to what Correia affirmed, he did not die in Goa as a casado and good Christian. After Afonso de Albuquerque’s death, he returned to Portugal where he continued on to Cairo. There, Antonio Tenreiro encountered him with his people in the Jewish quarter of the city in 1525 (Aubin 1974: 181 183/184). On the other hand, one should take into account the fact that conversion was not always immediate: the Jewish interpreter for Afonso de Albuquerque, Yussef or Joçef, only agreed to conversion under the name of Alexandre de Ataide in 1515, while in fact he had been serving the Governor since 1510 (Ibid.: 177).

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Paloma ha-Leví Benveniste's Timeline

Guadalcanal, Sevilla, AL, Spain
Guadalcanal, Seville, Andalucia, España (Spain)