About Iacobo Dionis (ibn Yahya)
Reference: "Divrei ha-Yamim le-Bnei Yahya,( דברי הימים לבני יחייא )", by Eliakim Carmoly, Printed in Frankfort am Main/Rodelheim, Published by: Isak Kaufman, 1850. Genealogy of, and biographical work on, the Yahya family by Eliakim Carmoly. There is an introduction from Carmoly, in which he informs that the Yahya family is one of distinction from the time of Maimonides. Originally achieving greatness in Portugal and Spain, they after settled in Italy and Turkey. The text is preceded by a chart of the family, beginning with the Nasi, Don Yahya, and concluding with Don Gedalia. The text, in seven chapters, is set in a single column, primarily in rabbinic type although there are instances of vocalized square letters, and is accompanied by extensive footnotes. The final page is an announcement of the forthcoming publication of seven minor Yerushalmi tractates by Carmoli. The text of this book was compared to the "bin Yahya Family Tapestry", currently stored in the antiquity archives of Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City, by Abraham Greenstein - grandson of Abraham Gindi HaKohen. The text matches the Tapestry.
Iacobo inherited a large fortune from his father, and used his wealth to promote Jewish literature. Upon the death of his father he settled in the neighborhood of Salonica, where he was intimate with several well-known poets, among them Abraham Reuben and Saadia Lougo. His own literary efforts consisted in compiling the commentaries left by his forefathers on the writings of Alfasi, R. Nissim, and Moses ben Naḥman. He completed this task in 1595, but died before the work was published. Eliezer Shoshan and Meïr Yiẓaḳi were called to his deathbed and entrusted with the task of publishing the work, which appeared at Venice in 1622, q under the title "She'elot u-Teshubot Ohole Shem." He had a son who left Salonika for Slonim. Ibn Yahyas had entered Poland through the Baltic route and along the Volga River. Along with Charlaps, they appear in early records of Jewish communities in towns where trading was an important economic factor such as Zamosc and Bialystok.
The mention of Sephardic Jews in the records of northern Poland is extremely rare. At the beginning of the 17th century, however, a merchant from Hamburg, Alvaro Diniz (also known in German sources as Albertus de Nyes), moved to Lubeck and had business contacts in Gdansk and other Polish towns. For some time, Diniz's brother-in-law, Paolo de Miller (also called Paul Dirichsen in German records) lived in Gdansk during the 1610s (Kellenbenz 1954:247,248). Certain other Sephardic names borne by merchants from Hamburg/Altona and Amsterdam were also found in Gdansk from the 1620s through the 1640s: Abenjacar, Castiel, Dias Nunes, Dubetent, de Lima, Pallache and few others (Kellenbenz 1958:80,83). During the last two decades of the 17th century, another merchant, Jacob Abensur from Denmark, lived in Gdansk and, for a while, in Courland and Riga (Kellenbenz 1958:401-11).
In 1588, Polish Chancellor Jan Zamoyski established a special privilege allowing Sephardic Jews to live in his own newly founded private town of Zamosc. (Ashkenazic Jews from neighboring towns were not authorized to settle in Zamosc.) Many advantages were offered to those Sephardic Jews who decided to move there, which prompted a number of Sephardic families to migrate to the town. Zamość is a city, Lubelskie województwo (province), eastern Poland. One of the few large communities in the Lublin Uplands, it was founded on the estates of Polish chancellor Jan Zamoyski (1542–1605) that lay on the trade route between the Black Sea and northern and western Europe.
In 1578 the Paduan architect Bernardo Morando conceived and implemented the city’s modern design, which remains a fine example of grid-based urban planning. Italianate Renaissance architecture dominates the main square, with uniform but ornate two-story houses clustered around Town Hall.
Toward the end of the 16th century, they included families from the Ottoman Empire (for example, Moses, the brother of the above Abraham de Mosso Kohen, who moved from Lvov and became the first Jewish inhabitant of Zamosc [Shatzky 1957:85]) and Italy (for example, Abram Misrachi and Salomon Marcus from Venice [Balaban 1906:467]). During the first part of the 17th century, new settlers generally came from Italy and Holland, and the documents of that time cite the existence in Zamosc of families named de Campus/ Kampos, Castiell/Kastiel and Sacuto/Zakuto (Morgensztern 1961: 75,76).