ABENDANA, Sephardi family, with members widely dispersed among the ex-Marrano communities of Northern Europe. The name Abendana is Arabic in origin, commonly written in Hebrew ן׳דנא, אבן – דנא. Various branches of the family became differentiated by the cognomens Osorio, Belmonte, Naḥmias, Mendes (numerous in Hamburg), or, especially, de Brito. Isaac da Costa's statement that they were all descended from Heitor Mendes de Brito, who lived in Lisbon in the second half of the 16th century, is inaccurate. The Hamburg branch was founded by FERNANDO (Abraha) and MANOEL, sons of Manoel Pereira Coutinho of Lisbon whose five daughters were nuns at the convent of La Esperança. The earliest known member of the family in Amsterdam was Francisco Nuñez Pereira or Homem (d. 1625), who is reported to have arrived in Holland with the earliest (legendary) party of Marrano immigrants in 1598. Francisco entered the Jewish community under the name DAVID ABENDANA, after the death of his two sons, considered by his wife Justa (Abigail) to be the outcome of divine punishment for his sin in not having undergone circumcision. He was one of the founding members of the first Amsterdam synagogue. His son, IMMANUEL (1667), became ḥazzan of the community. The family is also found at an early date in America. A DAVID ABENDANA lived in New York in 1681, and a MORDECAI ABENDANA died there in 1690. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: H. Kellenbenz, Sephardim an der unteren Elbe (1958), index (genealogical trees, 488 ff.); Roth, Marranos, 383; Rosenbloom, Biogr Dict; I. da Costa, Noble Families among the Sephardic Jews (1936), 83, 115–6, 144; Kayserling, Bibl., 1, 2; ESN, 8–10. (Cecil Roth)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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