The Habib family (sometimes called Ben Habib or Ibn Habib), are are descendants of Portuguese Sephardic Jews, and left Portugal due to religious persecution.
The Habib Family’s Roots in Portugal
The Habibs are descendants of Rabbi Jacob Ibn Habib and Rabbi Levi Ibn Habib
The Habib family was, and continues to be, a prominent and respectful family in Portugal, Spain, Greece, and Turkey. According to historical sources and family information and transferred from one generation to another, the Habibs are descendants of Rabbi Jacob Ibn Habib and Rabbi Levi Ibn Habib, who lived in Lisbon, Portugal in the late 15th century.
1. The Habibs in Spain
- My ancestor Rabbi Jacob Ibn Habib (c. 1460 – 1516) was a Rabbi and Talmudist born at Zamora, Spain. He was the head of the Yeshiva of Salamanca. Rabbi Jacob Ibn Habib wrote the “Ein Yaakov” and was one of the greatest Jewish scholars of his time.
- The 1492 decree of expulsion issued by the Spanish Monarchs marked the end of Spanish Jewry in Spain. Ibn Habib and his family were expelled from Spain.
2. The Habibs in Portugal
- Rabbi Jacob Ibn Habib migrated from Spain to Portugal. He settled with his family in the city of Lisbon. In Portugal, unlike Spain, there appeared to be no forced conversions or uprisings against the Jews.
- In Portugal, Rabbi Jacob Ibn Habib’s son, Rabbi Levi Ibn Habib (c. 1480 – c. 1545), was a student of Rabbi Isaac Aboab (who died in Porto).
- Under King Manuel of Portugal, Rabbi Jacob Ibn Habib was caught in the throes of Monarch’s decree and had to confront forced conversions in Portugal. His son, Rabbi Levi Ibn Habib, when about seventeen, was forcibly baptized in 1497.
- Due to the religious persecution, Rabbi Jacob Ibn Habib and Rabbi Levi Ibn Habib (and other members of the family) fled Portugal, seeking a place where they could follow the dictates of their conscience in safety.
3. The Habibs in Ottoman Empire (Salonica and Galipoli)
- After the expulsion of Jews from Portugal, Rabbi Jacob Ibn Habib and Rabbi Levi Ibn Habib landed in Salonica, which at that time was a part of the Ottoman Empire.
- The Habibs eventually arrived in the area Gallipoli, Turkey. The Ben Habib family of Portugal is said to have furnished Gallipoli with eighteen chief rabbis, the most prominent of them being Rabbi Jacob Ibn Habib. During the 17th century, Shimon Ibn Habib and Rafael Ibn Habib were rabbis of the city. Another rabbi of the community was Jacob Ibn Habib (died 1863). Until the beginning of the 20th century, the Habib family played a very important role in the life of Gallipoli’s Jewish community.
Gallipoli Jewry Heritage Site
Habib, Levi Ben Jacob Ibn – Jewish Encyclopedia
יוסף הקר, “לדמותה של ההנהגה היהודית בשאלוניקי בראשית המאה הט”ז”, דברי הקונגרס העולמי השישי למדעי היהדות, כרך ב’ ירושלים תשל”ו.
גיורא פוזיילוב, חכמיהן של ארבע ערי הקודש כרך ב – חכמי ירושלים, מינהל החינוך הדתי.