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The English meaning of Salem is From Shalem meaning entire.
The name Salem is of Hebrew origin.
There are many indicators that the name Salem 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 Salem is cited with respect to Jews & Crypto-Jews in at least 8 bibliographical, documentary, or electronic references:

From the civil records of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

The Amsterdam Municipal Archives possess a complete set of registers of intended marriages from 1578 to 1811, the year when the present Civil Registry was started. Between 1598 and 1811, 15238 Jewish couples were entered in these books. Both the number of records and the volume of data that may be extracted from them are unprecedented.

From the records of Bevis Marks, The Spanish and Portuguese Congregation of London

Bevis Marks is the Sephardic synagogue in London. It is over 300 years old and is the oldest still in use in Britain.The Spanish and Portuguese Jews' Congregation of London has published several volumes of its records: they can be found in libraries such as the Cambridge University Library or the London Metropolitan Archive

Jews in Colonial Brazil, by Arnold Wiznitzer

Professor Wiznitzer gathered detailed information about individual Jewish settlers in colonial Brazil and about cases where they were brought before the Inquisition at Lisbon, and his study throws new light on some phases of Brazilian colonial history. Many Jews fled to Brazil and others were deported to the colony as convicted heretics after the King of Portugal attemtped to compel all of his Jewish subjects to accept Christianity in 1497.They were active in the establishment of the sugar industry and in trade, and they maintained close relations with another large group of exiles who had taken refuge in Amsterdam.Most of the "new Christians" continued to practice the old religion secretly.

Precious Stones of the Jews in Curaçao; Curaçaon Jewry 1656-1957, by Isaac Samuel Emmanuel (1957)

Names taken from 225 tombstones of 2536 persons, 1668 - 1859, men, women and some Rabbis. Includes cemetery history and plan, biographies including family histories, chronological list of names, alphabetical list of family names + number of members + eldest tombstone year, large bibliography, general alphabetical index, 15 genealogies.

List of (mostly) Sephardic grooms from the publication, "List of 7300 Names of Jewish Brides and Grooms who married in Izmir Between the Years 1883-1901 & 1918-1933". By Dov Cohen.

Dov Cohen has created an index of brides and grooms based on the organization of Ketubot (Jewish wedding contracts) from marriages within the Turkish community of Izmir. From this material we can identify the Jewish families who lived in Turkey since the Spanish expulsion in 1492 in two periods: the end of the Ottoman Empire and the beginning of the secular government of Turkish Republic. Events of these periods forced this community to emigrate to America.

Sangre Judia (Jewish Blood) by Pere Bonnin. Flor de Viento, Barcelona, 2006. A list of 3,500 names used by Jews, or assigned to Jews by the Holy Office (la Santo Oficio) of Spain. The list is a result of a census of Jewish communities of Spain by the Catholic Church and as found in Inquisition records.

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.

Sephardic names from the magazine "ETSI". Most of the names are from (but not limited to) France and North Africa. Published by Laurence Abensur-Hazan and Philip Abensur.

ETSI (a Paris-based, bilingual French-English periodical) is devoted exclusively to Sephardic genealogy and is published by the Sephardi Genealogical and Historical Society (SGHS). It was founded by Dr. Philip Abensur, and his professional genealogist wife, Laurence Abensur-Hazan. ETSI's worldwide base of authors publish articles identifying a broad spectrum of archival material of importance to the Sephardic genealogist. A useful feature of ETSI is the listing, on the back cover, of all Sephardic family names, and places of origin, cited in the articles contained in each issue

In Sure Dwellings: A Journey From Expulsion to Assimilation, by Margot F. Salom

In 1492, the last professing Jews in Spain were driven out of their beloved Sepharad where they had formerly been accepted as an important part of a thriving, pluralistic society for seven centuries of Islamic rule. The Christian Reconquista in the last of those centuries, spelt the beginning of the end for the Jews of Spain as well as for the convivencia (cooperation) that had long existed between Jew, Muslim and Christian in what has been called the "Golden Age". Many of the expelled Spanish Jews spread out around the surrounding Muslim lands where they found some refuge. Others found a brief hiatus of safety in Portugal. Decades later many of the expelled Jews travelled to the mercantile centres of the Mediterranean, northern Europe and the New World where they participated in the burgeoning trading empires of Holland, England the Italy. It is this fascinating history that the author has attempt to trace, using her ancestors as a paradigm. Realizing that this narrative of the western Sephardim is all but forgotten with the secularisation of a resolute assimilation process, she has written a story that both describes the history of the countries of her ancestors' settlement as well as her personal search through many of the lands of their diaspora, in an attempt to establish the journey of her ancestors as they travelled from fifteenth century Spain to nineteenth century Australia. It was in Australia that this lineage finally became established in a land of "sure dwellings" and where the inevitable outcome of assimilation was the loss of an ancient faith - a loss that has created the primary impetus for the telling of this story

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.

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