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The digitalization th project of the 19 Century censuses in Eretz Israel done under the auspices of Sir Moses Montefiore

Thanks to the Montefiore Endowment

Introducing the 3 ladies behind the project

A Window on Eretz Israel A Reconstruction of the Jewish Population
Five Cenuses of Eretz Israel 1839 1849 1855 1866 1875 and 1840 of Alexandria

A Window on Eretz Israel A Reconstruction of the Jewish Population
The censuses that Montefiore conducted enables us to see a picture of the demographic situation in most of Eretz Israel, that together with the facts from macrohistory gives us our microhistory.

Why the First Census?
1831 Ibrahim Pasha conquers Eretz Israel 1834 peasant revolt 1838 Druse revolt(Galilee)
Safed after the earthquake

natural disasters
Jan.1,1837 earthquake over 2,000 deaths in Safed and Tiberias

students of Torah just plain poor

How many Jews were in Eretz th century? Israel in the 19
According to Montefiore·s census database 6,570 in 1839 and 9,891 in 1855 But what is known about this population? Females vs Males? Martial Status? Adults vs Children? Where are they from? Where are they living in Eretz Israel? Age distribution?

Does the census include everyone?
NO, it does not! Not all communities included: Pekiin & Kfar Yasif Some known people are not included Lists of those who received money include names not in the census (according to the publication by the Dinur Center) When building the database we included those without names so you have demographic information

The Source
Original records are kept at the Montefiore Endowment in London Microfilms for all five censuses can be found at the Institute of the Hebrew Microfilmed Manuscripts (Jerusalem) They do not cover the entire Jewish population as some extremely orthodox Jews refused to cooperate and give any details

Problems ² General & Specific
Many of the microfilms were unreadable.
(sample slides)

The printed standardized form came into use in all the communities only in 1855. Four types of forms for the population: Rabbis & Wiseman, Bnei Israel, Widows, Orphans Scripts: square letters, Rashi script, cursive script and sometimes numbers were even written in Arabic numbers Transliteration of names - guidelines implemented by the National Library in Jerusalem

Problems ² General & Specific
Second marriages from either side ² loss of information People living with other people than the parent ² added to comments Orphans often had little information about the parents Places of birth - IGS added the country that that town is found in today. In the English version, the present day name of the town is given rather than the name at the time of the census in Yiddish & Ottoman names.

How was the info organized?
The Ashkenazim are registered according to the Kolel (in the 19th century, a support society based on their European origins). The records cover whole families ´Kollelµs are according to Jewish communities abroad: Habad, Volin, Holland & Deutchland

How was the info organized?
The Sephardim and the Oriental Jews are registered as one single group, without any regard to their various origins. The exception ² the ´Westernersµ from North Africa The censuses are divided by locality as they have been conducted. 11 localities for 1839 and only 6 for 1875 What happened?

Sidon 1839Acre Shefaram 1839 Haifa 1839, 1875 Jaffa 1839, 1875 1839

Safed 1839, 1875 Djermak 1839 Tiberias 1839, 1875 Nablous 1839 Jerusalem 1839, 1875 Hebron 1839, 1875

Communities in the censuses

Details Available in Censuses

Family name, first name, Age, date of arrival (aliyah), Place of birth, marriage, Name of spouse (not always), children and their ages (not always), Occupation, financial status and notes Each Kolel includes a list of leaders, the families, the widows and the orphans.

based on an incomplete version done in 2004

1839 Total Seph. Population: Total Ashk Population TOTAL POPULATION 4,582 1,769

Increase 2,991 6,809 9,800

% of

7,573 8,578

31% 69%

6,351 16,151

Population Distibution


1875 (based on an incomplete version done in 2004) Sephardim 516 460 667 490 622 455 4,875 None 1,055 4,325 3,584 135 1 kollel 534 Ashkenazim 24 159

Sephardim Haifa Hebron Jaffa Jerusalem Safed Tiberias Acre Djermak Nablous Shefaram Sidon Subtotal Total 51 98 359 4,582 116 254 153 2,325 694 334 198



1,769 6351


8,578 16,151

May explain why you can·t find someone !
More Sephardim in the population

Identity Elements # surname # father·s name # grandfather·s name # place of birth


1875 57 % 37 % 3%

4,537 71.5 % 8,673 1,564 24.5 % 5,576 37 1% 477

2,391 37.7 % 6,478 42.8 %

They were busy with just existing!

Jerusalem- 19th Century

Listed as part of the name

Variations in Meanings
' '
with the Ashkenazim = Haver with the Sephardim = Hakham

We hope to list them with their translations on the IGS website

So many different descriptions for being poor !
, , , - destitute, beggar , - poverty , , , , , , - impoverished , , - charity , - dole , - needy , , - poor , ,



, " ,

, ,

Occupations (1839)
25% have an occupation listed 9% are ´studyingµ ² this includes adults in the Beit Midrash, studying Psalms, Gemora, etc. Sometimes the occupation is listed in the financial status column If listed as studying & occupation, the occupation was chosen Rabbis and Sages, without an indication of any other occupation

The earliest date of someone born in Eretz Israel according to the census
1749 ² Shlomo Sibon age 90 lives in Safed, married, born in Safed 1749 ² Shimon Maimaran age 90 lives in Jerusalem, possibly available, born in Jerusalem 1759 ² Avraham Palatchi age 80 lives in Safed, blind, born in Safed 1759 ² Elihau Arazi, age 80 lives in Safed, lives with grandson, born in Safed 1761 ² Nehemia Castel, age 78 lives in Hebron, available, born in Gaza

Comments found for Safed & Tiberias
plague plague & earthquake plague, confiscation & earthquake plague, 2nd confiscation & earthquake earthquake damaged by earthquake house damaged earthquake & confiscation 2nd plundering & earthquake 2nd plundering (1838 Druse Revolt) Individuals variations including value of property loss
' . 30 ' '

Examples of additional information found in various columns
' 20
(a servant living in the courtyard of Haim who broke her leg and had many expenses, she immigrated from Ashkenaz 20 years ago from Saloniki) (needs to get married) (written in English)

Wife only eleven

(under financial status)

Genealogy even then!
Names of some Rabbis include lineage Footnotes of the Sephardim in Jerusalem ² Chief Rabbi Navon - 4th generation 4 mentions of a person being the grandson and great grandson of a Rabbi 11 mentions of being a grandson of « 2 mentions of being a grand daughter of «

Examples from the database

The format for displaying the information


searches family & first name

Year: 1839, 1840, 1855, soon 1849 Matches/Begins with/Contains/Ends with Language: English/Hebrew

Orphans & Widows Safed 1939

Alexandria 1940

Hebrew Search

Advanced Surname Given Name BE CREATIVE

Birth Place DD Residence DD Occupation

Country of Birth DD Kolel DD Economic Status

Eretz Israel / Ottoman Empire

Eretz Israel / Ottoman Empire

Eretz Israel / Ottoman Empire

Eretz Israel / Ottoman Empire


(1839 & 1855) Raysin Russia Sephardim Sephardim & Ashkenazim


Hassidim Holland

Holland & Deutschland Tiberias Hungary North Africans Prushim Varsha Volin Volin & Osterreich

Today·s country added to town

Occupation & Economic Status
Try a search, see what you find

Aliyah ² Year of Arrival

Once all five are online
Trace families through this time period Did they move? Children appear and disappear Occupation & economic situation Change in Kolels or not

This is only a beta site, and there are three more censuses to be completed. Will there be corrections? Only if they are typos!

Lets try it online

IGS and the Jewish people thank Sir Moses Montefiore for his initiative 171 years ago!