The Jewish Pope

For generations, a Jewish legend has been told concerning Elchanan , the only son of Rabbi Simeon, which is both curious in its details and the fact that it has survived some 1000 years of oral transmission. Many versions exist, but the gist is well covered by Rabbi Eugene & Annette Labowitz in their book, A Sacred Trust (Volume 1. 304 pages, ISBN 0-914615-12-2).

Part of our family tree extends back through the Shalita family to Rashi, the great medieval Jewish commentator and philosopher. Rashi's maternal line, in turn, extends back through Rabbi Isaac (not to be confused with Rabbi Isaac "The Tzarfati", Rashi's father) to Rabbi Abun. Rabbi Abun's son, Rabbi Isaac, had at least two children. One daughter (see genealogy diagram) was Rashi's mother; unfortunately her name is currently not known. A son, named Simeon, continued in the long family rabbical tradition. Simeon distinguished himself as a scholar, judge, and landholder, and was generally known as "Simeon [Simon] the Great". Our research indicates that this branch of the family lived in Mainz, and it is possible that Rashi was born in Mainz as well, although he spent his youth in Troyes. Rabbi Simeon had only one son, named Elchanan, who was Rashi's first cousin. A son was extremely important to rabbical families to enable a continuation of religious learning and tradition.