Jaffe - what does Jaffe surname mean?
The genealogy of the family of rabbis and scholars surnamed Jaffe/Joffe is documented back to Bologna Italy in the 15th Century (See Funk and Wagnall`s Jewish Encyclopedia, 1901-1906, which is available on-line). There are also references to the surname in the 13th and 14th Century records of the Spanish Inquisition and in records from the Spanish Kingdom of Aragon before the expulsion in 1492. There have been and still are numerous variations of the surname beginning with the letters `E`, `I`, `J`, `Y`, and `Z`, all derived from the Hebrew root word `yafeh` (yud, peh, heh) meaning `pretty`. The port city of Jaffa, Israel has a history going back almost 10,000 years and is mentioned by name several times in the TaNaCh. There is also a city and province in Yemen named Yafa, and some Arab families claim that their surname is derived from association with those places. Families with the surname Iofe (a transliteration from the Cyrillic alphabet) were common in the Jewish Pale of Settlement of the Russian empire, especially in what is now Lithuania. Families surnamed Yaffe and Jaffe exist in Israel (some who may be indigenous, but most who have immigrated). The surname has a long tradition in Turkey, the Island of Rhodes, Egypt and Mesopotamia. The spelling Jaffe/Joffe appears to have originated in German speaking lands of Central Europe where the alphabet of that language pronounces the letter J as a Y.
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