The name Alcalay is of Spanish origin.
The English meaning of Alcalay is Alcala, Spain
There are many indicators that the name Alcalay may be of Jewish origin, emanating from the Jewish communities of Spain and Portugal.
When the Romans conquered the Jewish nation in 70 CE, much of the Jewish population was sent into exile throughout the Roman Empire. Many were sent to the Iberian Peninsula. The approximately 750,000 Jews living in Spain in the year 1492 were banished from the country by royal decree of Ferdinand and Isabella. The Jews of Portugal, were banished several years later. Reprieve from the banishment decrees was promised to those Jews who converted to Catholicism. Though some converted by choice, most of these New-Christian converts were called CONVERSOS or MARRANOS (a derogatory term for converts meaning pigs in Spanish), ANUSIM (meaning "coerced ones" in Hebrew) and CRYPTO-JEWS, as they secretly continued to practice the tenets of the Jewish faith.Our research has found that the family name Alcalay is cited with respect to Jews & Crypto-Jews in at least 8 bibliographical, documentary, or electronic references:
This newsletter which is now online reports on a variety of topics related to the Sephardic world.
The author of this book has written a detailed study which traces the history of his Sephardic ancestors dating back to medieval Spain, through post-expulsion migration to Thessaloniki, Aram Sobah, the cities of Safed and Jerusalem in Israel, the New World countries and back again to The Promised Land. The book provides genealogical tables of the various branches of this family. The author has also included an updated summary of the Jewish Community of Paraguay, its people, their lives and institutions, from the early twentieth century until the present, along with a record of the leading Jewish families and individuals who immigrated to this country in the first half of the 20th century.
When the Romans conquered the Jewish nation in 70 CE, much of the Jewish population was sent into exile throughout the Roman Empire. Many were sent to the Iberian peninsula. The area became known by the Hebrew word "Sepharad". The JEWS in SPAIN and PORTUGAL became known as "Sephardim" or and those things associated with the SEPHARDIM including names, customs, genealogy and religious rituals, became known as SEPHARDIC.
A series of royal decrees by the House of Aragon.The approximately 3800 documents included in this book contain Sephardic names recorded during the period from 1213 to 1327.By this time family names were well developed. This is the richest documentary evidence ever published on Jews of any land. The Documents and Regesta from the Archives of Aragon, originally published in numerous volumes of the Revue des Ĕtudes Juives some five decades ago and now brought together for the first time, relate the story of one of the most important and fascinating medieval communities, one which produced great scientists linguists, translators and writers, financiers and businessmen, politicians and diplomats, scholars and Rabbis. Yet, the account remains essentially the life story of ordinary men and women from all classes and all walks of life. The extensive indexes and carefully - prepared tables, maps and glossary open new avenues for further historical research on the way they lived, the laws which governed them and the extensive lore which they produced. Jean Regne(1883-1954) was an archivist and paleographer who published several historical works but his book on the Jews of Aragon based on the registers and documents found in the Crown of Aragon Archives is certainly the most important.
Despite the increased attention given to Hispano-Jewish topics, and the "conversos" or Crypto-Jews in particular, this is the first thorough compilation of their customs and practices. The author has culled from Inquisition documents and other sources to paint a portrait of the richness and diversity of Crypto-Jewish practices in Spain, Portugal, and the New World. The history of Spanish Jews, or Sephardim, stretches back to biblical times. The Jews of Spain and Portugal made formative contributions to all Hispanic cultures, the impact of which is first being measured and recognized today. The Sephardim experienced a Golden Age in Iberia between 900-1100, during which they acted as the intermediaries between the rival political and cultural worlds of Islam and Christianity. This Golden Age ended with the Reconquest of Spain by Catholic overlords, though for another 300 years the Jews continued to contribute to Iberian life. In 1391 and again in 1492, intense and violent social pressures were put upon the Jews to join the larger Christian community. Many Jews converted, often unwillingly. In 1492 the remaining Jews were exiled from Spain. The converted Jews (Conversos) became an underclass in Spanish society. Many of them clung tenaciously to Jewish practices in the face of torture and death at the hands of the Inquisition. Having lost contact with other Jews, these people developed a religion which was an admixture of Catholic and Jewish rituals. David Gitlitz examines these practices in detail and attempts to answer the question of whether the Conversos were in fact Jewish. Gitlitz's research is exhaustive. He has combed through thousands of Inquistion records, showing that a sense of "Jewishness" if not Jewish practice remained a core value of many Spaniards' lives well into the 1700s. Gitlitz is convincing in showing that the Inquisition unwittingly aided crypto-Jews in perpetuating themselves by publishing Edicts of Faith. Essentially checklists for informers, they described the behavior of "Judaizers" (sometimes the practices listed were absurd or simply erroneous). These, ironically, were used by Judaizers as guides to religious behavior. It is revealing that as the Inquisition faded, crypto-Judaism waned, though never totally vanished. Gitlitz's knowledge and research on the subject is encyclopedic. The book is written in a "textbook" style which makes it somewhat technical and dry, though it is enlivened by excerpts from Inquisition records, which Gitlitz has apparently chosen for their interest, irony, unintended comedy, or spiritedness. It is difficult to imagine that human beings would face the tortures of the rack for not eating pork. That these same tortured people could summon the will to laugh at their executioners is something wondrous. The book includes the names of the Sephardim (and sometimes their residences too).
Pere Bonnin, a philosopher, journalist and writer from Sa Pobla (Mallorca), a descendant of converted Jews, settles with this work a debt "owed to his ancestors", in his own words. The book, written in a personal and accessible style and based on numerous sources, includes a review of basic Jewish concepts, Jewish history in Spain, and Christian Anti-Semitism. There is also a section that focuses on the reconciliation between the Church and Monarchy and the Jews, which took place in the 20th Century. In this study, Bonnin deals in depth with the issue of surnames of Jewish origin. In the prologue, the author explains the rules he followed in the phonetic transcription of surnames of Hebrew origin that are mentioned in the book. The researcher cites the Jewish origin, sometimes recognized and other times controversial, of historically prominent figures (like Cristobal Colon, Hernan Cortes, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra and many others) and links between surnames of Jewish origin with some concepts in Judaism.. The book also includes an appendix with more than three thousands surnames "suspected" of being Jewish, because they appear in censuses of the Jewish communities and on the Inquisitorial lists of suspected practitioners of Judaism, as well as in other sources. In the chapter "Una historia de desencuentro", the author elaborates on surnames of Jewish origin of the royalty, nobility, artistocracy, clergy, and also of writers, educators and university teachers during the Inquisition. Special attention is given to the "Chuetas" of Mallorca, the birthplace of the author.
This list is compiled from a catalogue the author found on a visit to Puerto Rico in the Museum of San Juan.
Around the 12th century, surnames started to become common in Iberia. In Spain, where Arab-Jewish influence was significant, these new names retained their old original structure, so that many of the Jewish surnames were of Hebrew derivation. Others were directly related to geographical locations and were acquired due to the forced wanderings caused by exile and persecution. Other family names were a result of conversion, when the family accepted the name of their Christian sponsor. In many cases, the Portuguese Jews bear surnames of pure Iberian/Christian origin. Many names have been changed in the course of migration from country to country. In yet other cases "aliases", or totally new names, were adopted due to fear of persecution by the Inquisition.
The following website is relevant to the surname Alcalay: