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The Toledano Family of Iquitos –

On the Banks of the Peruvian Amazon River


In October 2003 I received an email from Jose Toledano who wrote the following to me from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: “My name is Jose Celeste Toledano; I was born in Sao Paolo, Brazil. I live in Rio de Janeiro and my family originated in Tangier. My father was Moshe Malka Toledano who was born in Iquitos in 1922 and lived in Tangier until 1954 when he moved to Brazil with his brother Shlomo Malka Toledano. My grandfather was Joseph Jose Toledano who was born in Tangier and traded in goods between Iquitos and Morocco. I saw the Internet site of the Toledano family that you direct and I thought that I might be able to get some help from you in building our family tree.”

It should be pointed out that in Brazil where the spoken language is Portuguese, it is customary to use both the family names of the father and mother, that is the mother’s maiden name is added in addition to the father’s family name. A Brazilian’s name is made up of the first name; sometimes there are two, followed by the mother’s family name and then the father's family name. So we know that Jose’s mother is from the Celeste family and his father’s family name is Toledano. This naming pattern does not hold true with the Spanish speaking countries, for example Peru.

In May 2004, with no connection to the communication from Jose, I received an email from Samira Reyes who wrote the following from New York:

“My name is Samira Reyes. I live in New York and am researching the family of my husband Reynaldo Rafael Reyes Toledano. I came across your name after surfing on the site of the Toledano family that you conduct on the Internet.”

As was hinted above, in Peru and those coming from this country it is customary to use the family name of the father and the maiden name of the mother in the following order: personal name, family name of the father and family name of the mother. Thus we know that Reynaldo’s father’s family name was Reyes and the name Toledano he inherited from his mother.

A month later I received an email from Cesar Alberto Toledano Cisneros who wrote the following from Lima, Peru: “My name is Cesar Alberto Toledano Cisneros; I was born in Iquitos; my father Cesar Alberto Toledano Torres who was born in Iquitos and died there in 1992 is buried in the Jewish cemetery. My grandfather Alberto Toledano Nahon, who was born in Tangier, died in Iquitos in 1970 and is buried there in the Jewish cemetery. I came to you through my relative Samira Reyes of New York.”

Cesar Alberto, who lives in Lima, made the effort to fly to Iquitos, took pictures of the tombstones of both his father and grandfather and sent me copies. He also sent me a list of all of the descendants of the family, most of whom assimilated through marriages with Catholics.

After extensive research that I conducted with members of the family in Brazil, Peru, the United States, Israel and France, I discovered that all three of the people who contacted me belonged to the Tangier branch of the tree of Rabbi Daniel b'Joseph Toledano (1570-1660) of Saloniki. Raphael Moses b'Abraham Toledano was born in Tangier around 1868 and died there about 1908. He married Cotta Nahon and they had four sons and three daughters: Abraham, Joseph, Jacob, Isaac, Estrella, Masouda and Esther. Raphael Moses was 15 generations removed from the Expulsion from Spain. Two of his sons, Abraham and Joseph were merchants and in the beginning of the 20th century we find them in the city of Iquitos on the banks of the Amazon River in Peru. It is no surprise that people born in Tangier, the port where all the ships on their way to South America docked, were tempted to board one of them and try their luck in the new world.

Abraham, the first-born son of Raphael Moses Toledano was known in Iquitos as Alberto Abraham Toledano. He was born in Tangier and died on 18 November 1970 in Iquitos and was buried in the town’s Jewish cemetery. He was a partner with his brother Joseph Jose Toledano in trade between Peru and Tangier. In Iquitos, Abraham had four wives whose status and religions are not clear. He had a total of fourteen children and all were born in Iquitos.

His four wives were:

1. Irena Ramires Dias had three daughters: Clotilde-Irena, Nelly-Estrella and Luna and four sons: Rene, Jose, Raphael and Samuel.

2. Griselda Torres Seballos gave birth to three sons: Cesar-Alberto, Eduardo, Jorje=George and a daughter Clemancia.

3. Isabel Rios gave birth to Olga and Daniel.

4. A woman from the Barchello family gave birth to a daughter Olivia.

Alberto-Abraham’s first-born son from his first wife, Irena, was René Toledano Ramires. He studied business in Paris, traveled to Tangier as the agent of the International Bank and later was the head of the Bank of Morocco in Casablanca. In 1963 he moved to Paris where he was the agent of the National Westminster Bank until his retirement. Another son of his first marriage, Raphael Toledano Ramires went to Morocco and from there came on Aliya to Israel. Cesar-Alberto Toledano Torres, who was Griselda’s son, the second wife of Abraham is also buried in the Jewish cemetery of Iquitos. Two of the granddaughters of Alberto Abraham, Irena-Mercedes and Josepha-Rachel are members of the Jewish community of Iquitos; his other descendants have assimilated.

Iquitos is the main city of the Peruvian Province of Loretto. In 1863 it had 430 inhabitants. The city developed and grew experiencing economic prosperity during the rubber boom, and in 1880 it had more than 10,000 inhabitants. Today it has 367,000 inhabitants who earn their livings through tourism, trade, agriculture and manufacturing connected with the large forests in the area. Iquitos is a very isolated city; there are no roads to any other part of the country but there is an air connection with the capital city Lima and regularly scheduled boat traffic with Brazil. The city is located on the banks of the Amazon River, which is more than four thousand kilometers long. Most of the residents arrived via the river from Brazil, which is to the east.

In the 1880s Jews from North Africa began to arrive in Iquitos in search of rubber. Thirty-eight Jews founded a relief society in 1909. Because of economic difficulties over the years many of them left and those who remained assimilated, even though they continued to look upon themselves as part of the Jewish people. After World War I, hundreds of Jews from throughout the Ottoman Empire and Eastern Europe arrived in Peru and it seems that some of them settled in Iquitos. Today, about two hundred Jews, whose religious status according to Halakha is not clear but who observe Jewish tradition and look upon themselves as Jews, live in Iquitos.

In 1995 there were fifty-four tombstones in the Iquitos Jewish cemetery starting with the year 1895. Three graves are occupied by members of the Toledano Family – (1) Jacobo (Jacob) Toledano, born in Tangier and died in 1909 at the age of 53; (2) Alberto Abraham Toledano Nahon born in Tangier and who died in 1970, (3) Cesar Toledano Torres a native of Iquitos who died in 1992.

On the Internet site of Guy Shachar of Haifa we see a wonderful presentation about Iquitos including photographs of its Jewish cemetery including tombstones of the following:

A member of the COHEN Family;

Jakov b'Isaac MEDINA, b. 1855 d. 6.1.1909;

Josef WEISSELBERGER, b. in Romania, d. 1976;

Alberto TOLEDANO NAHON, d. 19.11.1970;

The child Marcos TAPIERO, d. 24.7.1925;

The infant Rene WEILL, b. 9.7.1917 d. 30.12.1917;

Abraham EDERY FIMAT, b. in Morocco, d. in Iquitos, 8.8.1962;

Moshe Isaac NAHON, d. 16.12.1899, aged 18 years.

According to the book by Ariel Segal, we find the following Jewish families who lived in Iquitos during the period from the end of the nineteenth century until 1992:

Abecassis, Abensur, Abisror, Abramovitch, Alalouf, Alvas, Amsalem, Ansalmi, Arvallo, Asout, Assayag, Asseo, Atias, Azerad, Azulay, Barchechet, Barchilon, Benassayag, Bendran, Bendayan, Bengilbert, Bengio, Ben Hamou, Benjil, Ben Oliel, Bensadon, Ben Chetrit, Bensimon, Bensous, Bentislav, Bento, Benzaquen, Biros, Bitton, Bohbot, Casanova, Cassis, Chaves, Cohen, Coriat, Darmon, Davila, Delgado, Dias, Do Santos, Edery, Elharar, Eliscia, Erwini, Espiazo, Fimat, Garcia, Gonzales, Grunstein, Israel, Ivan, Izquerdo, Kahan, Krauss, Lasso, Levy (Consul of France), Liddi, Londonio, Lopez, Mergui, Marrache, Mass, Macias, Massido, Mattos, May, Medina, Massari, Messier, Messulan, Miguel, Mikhli, Morales, Nahmias, Nahon, Navarro, Oliveira, Olortegui, Otro, Pandorro, Pavon, Pindo, Pinto, Pizaro, Pollak, Puenquinos, Quinterro, Rengifo, Rios, Rosenthal, Ruach, Ruiz, Salgado, Samuel, Sarfati, Serbia, Scheinfeld, Schindler, Schuler, Suzanna, Tang, Tapiero, Tobelem, Toledano, Torres, Valero, Vasques, Vidal, Vidaurrazaga, Vinisky, Weill, Weiselberger, Yakobovitch, Yosef, Zrihen.

The places of birth of the above Iquitos residents were; Iquitos, Brazil, England, Eretz Yisrael, France, Germany, Hungary, New York, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain and Tangier.

Bibliography:

Segal Freilich, Ariel. Jews of the Amazon: self-exile in earthly paradise.


Jacob Tal Toledano - tolital@zahav.net.il


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