Actual name: Salomon
Alternate spelling: Moni

Mony Abraham was born on November 22 1889 (or November 10, according to his death certificate, and other documents), in Rustchuk, Bulgaria. The son of Mamo Abraham and Lea Jacob, he was the youngest of four children.

Sarah Cohen Eldar: "Moni, the youngest, was given and adopted by his aunt Mazal just after he was born. (He) was adopted by the eldest sister of his mother. His mother had promised her sister while she was pregnant that she would give birth for her sister. In the family he was known as Moni Ventura, but perhaps he (later) decided to return to his biological name. Your father (Uriel) told (me) about it."

Note that I haven't found any other mentions of Mony's adoption, and I have only seen documents referring to him as Mony Abraham.

When Mony was four, his parents, Mamo and Lea, died of tuberculosis. I know nothing more about his early life.

Mony Abraham, age 7, Rustchuk, 1896

Mony Abraham, age 7, Rustchuk, 1896.

Constantinople

Like his older brothers, Haim and Moritz, Mony left Rustchuk and settled in Constantinople. I don't know when he made the move, so cannot confirm whether he came with his brothers, or later.

Based on the few surviving photos taken in Constantinople, Mony's life seems to have been quite similar to his brothers', both socially and professionally. Like his brother Haim, he lived in Galata. His address was:

Salomon Abraham
Appartment Rachel #9,
Yeni Yol,
Galata

Occupation

Like his older brothers, Mony was a merchant: "Commissionaire" in the Annuaire Oriental, "Comerciante" on the immigration manifest in Argentina, "negociant" on his death certificate in Nice, and "Kaufman" in the German inheritance documents.

Mony Abraham is listed in the 1921 Annuaire Oriental, which shows he occupied three rooms in Emin Bey Han, the same trade building where Abraham Frere (Haim and Moritz' company) was located. The number of rooms indicates that his business was of a similar size as his brothers', and there is no indication that he ever was a partner with them.

A couple of parcel cards addressed to Mony survive and give hints about his business. One of these parcel card is for a 5kg shipment of Iron Sulphate, a product used for inks and dyes, from the S.W. Hoffman company in Hungary. Another parcel card, also from Hungary, from 1917, is for Calcium Hydrochloride, a bleaching agent for textiles.

I originally deduced from these that Mony was a chemical products importer. However a recently found application for a trademark for a textile company made 20 years later in Argentina points to a different conclusion. Considering the primary use of both of these products, it seems that Mony's business was narrowly focused on textiles, either as a fabric manufacturer, or as an importer of products used for the textile industry.

Nationality

On the 1925 Buenos Aires immigration manifest, Mony's nationality is listed as Bulgarian, but on his 1938 death certificate, he is described as a Spanish citizen. I assume that he acquired the Spanish citizenship like his brother Moritz, but it's not clear whether he used multiple passports, or acquired Spanish nationality at a later date.

Mony probably shared the same social circles as his brothers. For example, a letter addressed to Aaron Aaronsohn in July 1916 shows that he was in contact with the agronomist and Nili spy ring leader. Mony wrote:

"I am surprised that I haven't heard from you since your departure. Do you have so little time that you can't spare a moment for your new friends?" [...]

"My business isn't bad - financially things could be better, but I can't complain, times are tough." [...]

"In the meantime give my best regards to Sarah (*)."

* Sarah Aaronsohn, the NILI spy who was married to Mony's brother, Haim Abraham.

Aside from confirming that Mony's business was separate from his brothers' ("my business"), and offering some vague assessment of the wartime conditions for business ("times are tough"), this letter is intriguing because the Mony's address on this letter appears as "Hotel Rubin, Pera, Constantinople, Tepe-Baschi".

Why did Mony reside in a hotel? Was he living in Germany by then, and only temporarily in Constantinople on business? Or was this a permanent arrangement? His brother Haim for example relocated to Germany during the war, so it's quite possible that Mony did the same.

The other interesting detail is that this letter was sent in July 1916, four months after Sarah had left Haim, suggesting that it was still believed that Sarah's departure was not definitive and that she would be returning to her husband Haim.

Marriage

Mony married Elfriede Mädi Wertheimer from Bucharest, Romania, in Constantinople ("Cospoli") in 1917.

Mony and Mädi

Mony and Mädi Abraham in Constantinople.

Mädi in Constantinople, 1917

Mädi in Constantinople, 1917.

"Souvenir from my stay in Constantinople - 1917."

Note: this photo was taken in the same studio as the "Oriental" portraits of the Datnowsky siblings in 1910.

Chief Rabbinate Marriages 1887-1999 - Istambul
Groom surname Groom given name Given name of groom's father Bride given name Given name of bride's father Bride surname Date Reference number
ABRAHAM Salom. Haim Elfrida Yzidor VERTHAYMER 1917 82-166

In 1923, Mony and Mädi adopted a daughter, Irene ("Reni"), born the same year. (Alternate name on hand-written tree: Ira.)

1924 - Dusseldorf

Gisy, Reni and Uriel. Germany, 1924

Reni surrounded by her cousins Gisi and Uriel Abraham in Dusseldorf, 1924, most likely while visiting on vacation.

I assume this photo was taken while Mony and his family were travelling and visiting his brother Moritz in Dusseldorf, unless they temporarily relocated in Germany. They would immigrate to Argentina at the end of the following year.

Argentina

Mony, Elfriede and Irene immigrated to Buenos Aires, Argentina in December, 1925.

Retrieved from cemla.com/buscador

S = Singular = Single
C = Casado = Married.

Manifest / Immigration Registry
Last Name First Name Age Civil Status Nationality Place of Birth Occupation Arrival Date Ship Port
Abraham Mony 36 C Bulgarian Rustshouk Merchant 1925/12/02 SS Cap Polonio Hamburg
Abraham Elfriede 32 C Romanian Bucharest "Labores" (worker? or homemaker?) 1925/12/02 SS Cap Polonio Hamburg
Abraham Irene 2 S Turkish Constantinople 1925/12/02 SS Cap Polonio Hamburg

Why did they immigrate, and why Argentina? The Spanish language made Argentina a popular destination for Sephardic Jews looking to immigrate to the New World, however Mony most likely spoke German and/or French (his contact card for example was in French). A more likely draw may have been the presence of relatives from Rustchuk or Constantinople who would have preceded them in Argentina. In the immigration manifests, there are a few people named Abraham from Rushtshuk, but they are either laborers, tailors or bakers, so probably not from the same family of merchants.

One entry however seems like a possible connection based on the similar merchant occupation: Named Isaac, and born around 1883 based on the age in the manifest, this could either be Mony's brother Isak, a relative, or a simple coincidence.

How many people named "Isaac Abraham", born in or around 1883 in Rushstshuk and with the profession of merchant could there be? On the other hand, I'm not aware that this Isak emigrated to Argentina, or that he was ever married. But this can't be completely rulled out as I have very little information about him.

Manifest / Immigration Registry
Last Name First Name Age Civil Status Nationality Place of Birth Occupation Arrival Date Ship Port
Abraham Isaac 33 C Rushtshuk Merchant 1916/11/14 Malte Santos

In December 1929, Mony's daughter Irene reappears on an immigration manifest, but not her parents. I assume that the family had travelled, maybe to Constantinople or Germany, then came back. Why are her parents not included on the immigration list? It seems hard to believe that a six year old child would be travelling without her parents across the Atlantic.

Retrieved from cemla.com/buscador

Manifest / Immigration Registry
Last Name First Name Age Civil Status Nationality Place of Birth Occupation Arrival Date Ship Port
Abraham Irene 6 S Turkish Constantinople Unknown 1929/12/06 SS General Osorio Hamburg
Mony, Mädi and Reni in Buenos Aires, 1931.

Mony, with his daughter Reni and (first? second?) wife. Buenos Aires, 1931.

By December 1931, his address was: 1381 Alsina.

Zionist Activities

Like his brothers Haim and Moritz, Mony was involved in the creation and leadership of a Zionist organization. In 1933, he was one of the active founders of the "Sephardic Zionist Center". In the 25th anniversary issue of the weekly magazine "Israel" published in Buenos Aires in 1941, he is mentioned as having been the president of the Sephardic Zionist Center until his death.

Magazine "Israel" Buenos Aires, 1941.

Weekly magazine "Israel", 25th anniversary issue: no. 973/4 (29 August, 1941)

From Judaica collection at University of Florida

Despertar Del Desierto

In 1936, Mony Abraham registered the trademark "Despertar Del Desierto" ("Awakening the Desert" ?) and logo for a fabric company.

Despertar Del Desierto - Trademark and Logo, 1936

Official Gazette of the Argentine Republic (Boletin Oficial de la Republica Argentina), August 21, 1936. Patent and trademark management.

DESPERTAR DEL DESIERTO
July 27, 1936. - Mony Abraham and Co. - [this trademark] To distinguish cloth and fabrics in general, knitwear, table linen and lingerie, of class 15. - Notice no. 3.430.

Retrieved from: Boletin Oficial Republica Argentina, 1936

Second Marriage

According to a hand-written family tree, Mony wed in a second marriage Regina Witner.

By 1938, Mony resided at 5058 rivadavia.

Death in Nice

On June 8th, 1938, Mony died in Nice, France, at the age of 49. I believe the cause of death was uremia.

Why was he in Nice then? According to Sarah Cohen Eldar, he was "visiting his parents' friends."
There is a possibility that he was instead visiting relatives of his parents, and not just friends. See the Covo genealogical tree which shows one Joseph Coenca, born in Istambul 1870, who married a Rica Covo and was the father of one Flore Coenca, and died in Nice 1942. Although purely hypothetical, this seems to be a more credible scenario.

Succession

After his death, disputes arose around his inheritance, I believe concerning land in Argentina. According to my father Uriel, it was "all for nothing: in the end they realized the land wasn't worth anything."

A recently found document from the District Court of Haifa, Israel, shows that Moritz started legal proceedings about Mony's succession in mandate Palestine in the Spring of 1940.

Haifa District Court Notice, 1940, re Mony Abraham succession.

Haifa District Court Notice, 1940, re Mony Abraham succession.

Retrieved from www.nevo.co.il

IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF HAIFA.

In the matter of MONY ABRAHAM of Buenos Aires, Argentina, deceased.
Petitioner: MAURICE ABRAHAM, represented by DR. ASHER MALLAH, represented by RIVCA DANON, advocate.
Let all persons take notice that MAURICE ABRAHAM of Paris has applied to the District Court of Haifa for an order declaring the succession to MONY ABRAHAM, deceased, and that the said application will be heard at the District Court on the 19th day of April, 1940, at 9 a.m. All persons claiming any interest must appear at the said place and time, otherwise such order will be made as to the Court seems right.
Dated this 18th day of March, 1940. J. I. HABIBY Registrar, District Court, Haifa

By then, Moritz's remaining brother, Haim, lived in Haifa, which probably explains why this proceeding would take place in this city. It's not clear however what was at stake, and why this involved the two brothers, since Mony's wife was apparently still alive in Argentina. (According to later depositions by Ronya, Elfriede died in 1953.)

Note that Asher Mallah who was representng Moritz (in Paris at the time) was his brother-in-law.

Mony's succession dragged on for over a decade. A letter from the Israeli Ministry of Justice dating from January, 1954, addressed to "Mr. Abraham" asks:

"I would be very much obliged if you would inform me whether you intend to apply to an Israeli Court for an Order of Succession in respect of the estate of the late Mr. Moni Abraham.""

According to handwritten notes from Ronya, Mony's wife, Elfriede, died in Buenos Aires in 1953, "leaving no children". Does this mean that Mony's daughter Irene (Rene) had died at a young age? Also, according to my old handwritten notes, Mony was remarried to a Regina Witner. Why was her name not mentioned by Ronya? Was there no second marriage? Or was Ronya either confused or not being entirely forthcoming?

Special thanks:
Mehmet Sadettin Fidan for graciously sharing documents and information related to Mony Abraham's professional activity.
References and Publications:
Article from "Israel" weekly magazine, Buenos Aires, Argentina. 25th anniversary issue : no. 973/4 (29 August, 1941) Publisher: Z. Levy
Judaica collection at University of Florida
Argentina Immigration manifests retrieved from Centro de Estudio Migratorios (C.E.M.L.A.)

This family history project started September 2009.
All photos and documents belong to the author and are © Daniel Abraham, except for maps and where indicated.
This is a work in progress. Please contact me if you have any more information to contribute.

Last Modified: Sunday, October 15, 2017