Soudah Family






Family tree



Map of Palestine

Origins of the Soudah Family

All in all, 600 persons, present and past, carrying the Soudah family name were identified in some 12 countries. Soudah is the most usual spelling (Souda, Sudah and Sodah are others) but the common factor is this surname as written in Arabic and as can be seen on the welcome page.

Through personal contacts, phone and e-mail communication and substantial information from the Latin Convents in Jerusalem and Rafidia (Nablus) the relation between all these 600 persons was positively defined and thus it was found out that they all are descendants of one or more of nine ancestors, men born in Rafidia in the first half of the nineteenth century, all carrying the surname Soudah. To be exact one of these men, Mikhail, whose year of birth is estimated as being 1819 and whose descendants were traced to Acre in the North of Palestine (and now are in the US ) could not be positively tracked to Rafidia but has been assumed to originate from that place.  

Were all these nine men brothers and cousins?
Did they really belong to the same clan? There are no credible answers to these questions but it is difficult to imagine that there were two or more “clans” with the same family name in that small village given that the name Soudah is quite particular in its etymology. It would have been different if we were dealing with very common family names like, for example, Khoury (meaning priest), Haddad (smith) or Nasser (victor). So the assumption that these nine men were closely related to each other is quite safe.

So how did they relate? Whereas the 600, or so, names recorded in the family tree are based mainly on specific information, what follows is guesswork. In this guesswork we are helped by some helpful observations.

One such observation is that in Palestine and elsewhere in the surrounding countries, it is obligatory to add the father's first name after a person’s proper name, whether male or female, on any official document. Sometimes even the grandfather's first name is added. For instance the birth certificate issued by the Franciscan Parish church in Rafidia/Nablus states the complete name of Salem Soudah (611)  as Salem Moussa Sliman Soudah. So there is no doubt about the genealogy of Salem. Also when Robert Souda(h) (91111), a US resident, reports the name of his grandfather as being Elias John Michel from Acre, the name tells us that Elias is the son of Hanna or John, who in turn , is the son of Michel or Mikhail.

Another feature which can help us along the way is the fact that tradition requires that at least the eldest son in a family should give his first born son the same first name as his own father's.  Also cousins tend to have the same name.

A third feature, which is still very popular, is to give to one’s children names that start with the same letter and/or which have two or more letters in common: Randa, Randy, Rula and Rania are sisters just as Salem, Salim and Sliman are brothers.

Using some inspiration from the above we have traced the hypothetical ancestry of these nine men one generation back in time and “found” the three men who are the ancestors to all the Soudah descendants. Boiling down the ancestry to just three men was done on purpose to take into account the legend which says that the nickname Soudah was given to three brothers who were good singers. 

Child mortality in those days and places was very high so it is probable that these seven forefathers could have descended from the three founders (if really they are three) over two generations instead of just one as we chose to assume, but this should not make a big difference as we do not possess any information on that period whether it be late seventeenth or early eighteenth century.

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