website for the descendants of the Dutch Cassuto's

familienamen/family names
family main page | pedigrees |documents | photo galleries | specials | sitemap
what 's in a name?

                                                         the name Cassuto

Berber origin
According to Beth Hatefutsoth, The Nahum Goldman Museum of the Jewish Diaspora, (P.O.B. 39359, 61392, Tel-Aviv, IsraŽl), letter received august 3 1998 by The French Bob Cassuto part of the name is of berber origin: CASSUTO, CAPSUTO, CAFSUTO.

Many Jewish family names are linked to places of origin or residence. The three surnames in this group are based on CAFSA/GAFSA in Tunisia. The suffixóUT is of Berber origin and the suffix óO was added under Spanish and Italian influence. So the name means: coming from Cafsa.

The family name CASSUTO is documented since the mid-17th century. Distinguished bearers of the Jewish family name CASSUTO include the Italian Historian, Educator and Author, Moshe David (Umberto) CASSUTO ( 1883-1951, see below).
These data are derived from the site of Bob and Francine Cassuto. See more about the name of Cassuto through all ages and on all continents on this site.

Another hypothesis
Another hypothesis is also based on the original spelling of CAFSUTO and takes it, that the O is added later. In old documents the name is noted in Hebrew als "Kaftsut" - - which could be understood as a substantive form of the hebrew verb "kafats" - - which has several meanings: to close, to spring, to bounce.
In that case the name has a Hebrew origin. Most acceptable is the meaning: to close.

My fantasy pictures ancient Cassuto's or Kafsuts as gatekeepers in Jerusalem, Hebron or why not Gafsa? Moreover there is a rumor to be found in letters of Italian Cassuto's, written to the late George Cassuto Izn, that there once was a family coat of arms with a key.
But of course this is all pure speculation. Further research is needed.
In Holland there are several surnames which are analogue to this interpretation of Cassuto as a derivation of "kafats": Springer, Sluiter etc.

A weak point is that the suffix "ut" points to a state: the closing, or the closedness, or the bouncing. It seems not to be an existing word nowadays, I can't find the word Kaftsut in my dictionaries. The suffix for an active doer - a closer or bouncer - in Hebrew is "an".
"Kaftsan" - springer, jumper - is an existing word and means: water-flea!

Big head?

Bob Cassuto mentions on his site:
'Another interpretation can be found in the dictionary recently published  in Brazil "Dicionario sefaradi de sobranomes". The name Cassuto could find its origin in the name "Cabeçudo" meaning big head. This name was localized in Portugal, in Tavira, before 1400.'

Cassuto or Sacuto?

Lately I struck upon the suggestion, that the name Cassuto results from the inversion (metathesis) of consonants in another sephardic name: Sacuto.
Read more about a wealth of Sephardic namens on this page:
To me this hypothesis sounds not too plausible; it is hardly thinkable because of the considerable difference in pronounciation, which would not go unnoticed in everyday life.

Cassuto or Cassutto?

I must mention the spelling Casutto with double t. This originated from an inadvertent registration in the 19th century by my greatgrandfather or his father Juda Cassuto. So my grandfather and his children Max, Ernest and George spelled Cassutto. George Cassuto saw to a correction after having in a juridical procedure demonstrated the mistake. This took place about 1960. Max, his elder brother and my (Rob's) father, followed him (and consequently his children Albert, Robbert and Irene), but not Ernest. So the children of the latter still spell Cassutto.

known Cassuto's
Moses Vita Cassuto (plm. 1700-1760?)

Moses Vita Cassuto is a little-known member of the early eighteenth century of a distinguished Jewish Florentine family of which happily representatives are still with us.
Posterity should know him as one of the long list of Jewish travellers whose painstaking records of their often painful journeys did so much to guide their contemporaries and to enrich our knowledge in later ages.

Moses Cassuto in his diary written for his wife discloses incidentally something of himself.
He was a merchant of reasonable means, a dealer in precious stones but an educated man of the world, accustomed to mix in the highest society; he was devoutly religious and devoted to his family, and we see him as a patient (if not always very precise) recorder of things seen and heard, and a careful scribe. In visiting places attributed Biblical or other pious associations, he is frankly credulous and uncritical. Perhaps be is not to be reckoned in the front rank of either diarists or travel writers, but in this restricted field he certainly by his sincerity holds his place and our interest, whether as Jews or historians.

Moses's diary is written in the Italian of the period, but bas occasional descriptive rubrics and quotations in Hebrew, usually concerning Hebrew communities.

His first journey to the Holy land took place 1733-1735
At the commencement of the diary proper, he explains that the reason for his journey was to take his new-born son to be brought up in the Holy Land, to study the law of God and nothing else; accordingly he travelled to Hebron by way of A1exandria and Cairo with this infant-in-arms, and accompanied by one servant - returning overland through Northem Palestine, Saida, Damascus, A1eppo, Istanbul, Belgrade, Vienna, and Venice, then home to Florence. The journey took a year and a half, from 8 October 1733 to 5 April 1735, and proved most arduous.

Second journey was to the north, 1741-1743.He travelled partly in company with his brother David Cassuto and his faithful servant, the companion of his previous journey, Isache di Tranquillo Gallico, and two others. The party first visited Genoa, his wife's home town, where he had met and married her in 1723. From there the itinerary takes him through Monaco, Paris, and Calais to England. After a short stay in London they retumed to Holland and journeyed through Germany and Austria back to Florence.

More about Moses Vita Cassuto and his journeys on a special Moses Cassuto travels page

Judah Cassuto (1808 - 1893)

Hazan of the Portuguese-Jewish community of Hamburg; born in Amsterdam 1808; died at Hamburg March 10, 1893. In 1827 he was elected hazan of the Portuguese-Jewish community,
a post which he held until his death.
Cassuto was not only cantor, but also spiritual chief of the congregation, and was entitled to act as rabbi at the solemnization of marriages among its members. He was a very learned man, and possessed a thorough knowledge of many modern languages. His lay occupation was that of teacher and translator. In 1843 Cassuto was appointed sworn interpreter and translator to the city of Hamburg.
As a teacher he was active up to the hour of his death, which occurred suddenly. Until 1894, when a successor to Cassuto was chosen, the Portuguese congregation had no spiritual chief, marriages being solemnized by the rabbi of the German congregation.

Umberto Cassuto (Moshe David, 1883-1951) w+ws)q dwd h#wm

Bible scholar. Born in Florence, Italy, he studied there at the university and the Collegio Rabbinico. After graduating in humanities and receiving his rabbinic diploma, he took up teaching positions in both institutions.
At this time his main research was on the history and literature of the Jews of Italy.
From 1914 to 1925 Cassuto was chief rabbi of Florence and then in 1925 became professor of Hebrew language and literature in the University of Florence and then took the chair of Hebrew at the University of Rome.

Here he began to catalogue the Hebrew manuscripts in the Vatican but the 1938 anti-Semitic laws forced him out of his positions and he continued his academic career at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.
He had a son Nathan and a daughter Hulda, see below
He edited a Bible with Hebrew commentary that has remained an Israel school classic. His interests focused on Bible exegesis in which he contested the documentary theory of Wellhausen on the origin of the Pentateuch, postulating its redaction to a school around the 10th century BCE.
Cassuto also made important contributions to Ugaritic studies.

Bibliography CASSUTO, Umberto.
The documentary hypothesis and the composition of the Pentateuch: eight lectures by U. Cassuto. Translated from the Hebrew by Israel Abrahams. Pp. xii, 117. Jerusalem: Magnes Press, Hebrew University, 1961
CASSUTO, Umberto. A commentary on the book of Genesis. Translated from the Hebrew by Israel Abrahams. 2 vols. Jerusalem: Magnes Press, Hebrew University, 1961-1964
CASSUTO, Umberto. A commentary on the book of Exodus. Translated from the Hebrew by Israel Abrahams. Pp. xvi, 509. Jerusalem: Magnes Press, Hebrew University, 1967
CASSUTO, Umberto. Biblical and oriental studies. Translated from the Hebrew and Italian by Israel Abrahams. 2 vols. Jerusalem: Magnes Press, Hebrew University, 1973-1975
CASSUTO, Umberto. Storia della letteratura ebraica postbiblica. Pp. xvi, 212. Firenze: Casa editrice Israel, 1938
Links: The Virtual Jewish History Tour - Florence Tempio Maggiore, The Great Synagogue of Florence

from Wikiverse:
Umberto Cassuto, also known as Moshe David Cassuto, (1883 - 1951), was born in Florence, Italy.
He studied there at the university and the Collegio Rabbinico. After getting a degree and Semicha, he taught in both institutions. From 1914 to 1925, he was chief rabbi of Florence. In 1925 he became professor of Hebrew language and literature in the University of Florence and then took the chair of Hebrew at the University of Rome. When the 1938 anti-Semitic laws forced him from this position, he moved to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Umberto's son Nathan was also a rabbi in Florence. He went into hiding during World war II, was betrayed and perished in the Nazi death camps. Nathan's wife and children were saved and emigrated to Israel. One child, the architect David Cassuto (born 1938), played a key role in rebuilding the Jewish quarter in the old city of Jerusalem. In the 1990s he was for some years deputy mayor of Jerusalem.

more on Wikipedia or on wikipedia hebrew

Nathan Cassuto (? - 1944/45)

Son of Umberto, first eye specialist then Chief Rabbi in Florence in the time of the German occupation. He organised refuge for the persecuted Jews but was himself arrested by the SS and he perished in the death camps. His wife survived, but was killed in an ambush on an autobus full of nurses on its way to the Hospital on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem 1948.
Parts of the witness of Hulda about her brother in a verbatim of the Eichmann proces:

A. (=Hulda): And my brother, who was an eye specialist and also an assistant at the University of Florence, returned to Jewish studies, which were also very close to his heart, and this became his occupation up to his last years; he returned to this, was ordained Rabbi, and served afterwards as Assistant Rabbi in Milan, and later on as Chief Rabbi in Florence.
Q. Did your brother also live in Florence?
A. He lived in Florence and was Rabbi of the community.
Q. Was any attempt made by the Jews in those days to escape?
A. In those days there was general panic among the Jews of Florence, but they did not properly understand the danger. My brother, Dr. Nathan Cassuto, took energetic action and tried hard to make the Jews aware of the great danger threatening all the Jews of Italy.
Q. How did he try to do that?
A. He tried, he actually went from house to house, warned the Jews to enter monasteries, to flee to the villages where they were not known as Jews, to hide under assumed names. Furthermore, he also tried to find financial help for those who needed it. At that time, he organized a kind of committee for the aid of needy Jews, consisting of a very small number of local Jews, and a priest from Florence also worked with them, but I do not remember his name. They helped not only the Jews of Florence, but also tens and hundreds of Jews who came from Northern Italy, to cross over into the area where the Allies were already stationed.
A. ..... On 27 November of that year, after there had already been a number of operations against Jews, who were simply taken from their homes - on that day, a Sabbath, my husband came to the monastery, a very rare occurrence, since we had indeed met him and my brother before, but outside the place. That day he came to look for me and told me that the day before, Friday afternoon, my brother had been taken, together with the members of his committee, while they were having a meeting somewhere, organizing their assistance work for the Jews.
Q. By whom was he taken?
A. He was taken by the SS.
A. About my brother's fate I know only that he was taken from one camp to another. After he had been in prison in Florence for three months, they - both my sister-in-law and my brother - were transferred to camps. They were both, for a certain time, in Auschwitz, and they even managed to exchange some words in writing; he would send a note to her, and once she sent a note to him. Afterwards they were separated. She was sent to Bergen-Belsen and finally to Theresienstadt, and there she was liberated. She reached this country in 1945. It is from her that I heard many of the details I have just told you. Later she was herself killed by Arabs in the convoy that went up to Mount Scopus in 1948.
Of my brother's fate we only know that he was taken from one camp to another and that, in the end, he was in a camp of which one part was apparently in Russian hands and another part in American hands. People who came out of there and were liberated by the Americans gave us information about him, about the final days, but since then we have heard nothing more to this day

Apparently a book about Narhan Cassuto has been published:
Title: Scritti Memoria Di Nathan Cassuto (Italian and Hebrew) Author: Cassuto, Nathan

Description: Jeruasalem: Yad Ben Zvi, 1986. 100 pages in Italian and 100 pages in Hebrew. In Florence, Rabbi Nathan Cassuto, a physician and the son of a renowned biblical scholar, went from house to house urging Jews to hide during the holocaust. As a result, only 400 Jews were deported from florence. This book remembers the Rabbi in his own language. S. Good.
Item # 000000000010083 $40.00 Buy Now

I found a review of the book om internet, a copy of a page from the Jewish Quarterly:

from The Beth ha-Tefutsoth website: Recollections from the Synagogue in Florence
Dr. Enzo Nitzani

The Great Synagogue of Florence, Italy.
Model in the Permanent Exhibition of Beth Hatefutsoth
Beth Hatefutsoth Visual Documentation Center

On the Ninth of Av, 1938, I sat with my father and brother on low benches in a room adjacent to the synagogue. We had already heard of the imminent racial decrees. In the dark we sang AL HEYKhALI ChEVLI KENAChASh NOShEKh (“For my Temple I ache like someone bitten by a serpent”). I was too young to understand the note of anguish in the conversation between my father and Prof. David Cassuto – he too was planning his immigration to Eretz Israel – but I remember the sadness of the meeting to this day.

Fate was particularly cruel to the Cassuto family. After immigrating to Israel and joining the ranks of the Hebrew University, his son Nathan – a doctor and rabbi of Florence – was killed in Auschwitz. His daughter in law Hannah – who was saved from the furnaces of Auschwitz – was killed by a sniper when a convoy to the Hebrew University campus on Mount Scopus was attacked by the Arabs in 1948.

David Cassuto (Israel)
David Cassuto is the grandson of Umberto Cassuto.
The son of Umberto Cassuto, Nathan Cassuto, was also a rabbi in Florence. He perished in the Nazi death camps. Nathans children have been saved and they emigrated with their mother to Israel. One of the Nathans children is David Cassuto (1938), who became an architect, played an important role in rebuilding the jewish quarter in the old city of Jerusalem.
In the nineties he was for some years vice mayor of Jerusalem.

architectural page (Italian)

Alfonso Cassuto (1910-1999)

On 25 March 1975 the librarian of Amsterdam University Library, Professor S. van der Woude, and the Portuguese antiquarian bookdealer and collector Alfonso Cassuto signed an agreement of sale whereby the famous Cassuto collection came into the possession of the library, to be housed in the Bibliotheca Rosenthaliana.

Originally from Hamburg and having emigrated to Portugal when Hitler rose to power in 1933, the Cassuto family built up the library over four generations to form one of the most outstanding Sephardi collections of works by and about Jews originally from Spain and Portugal. It contains around 1,500 items, more than a third of which date from before 1800 (among them various unica), alongside publications from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, studies on the subject, bibliographies, broadsheets, portraits and other objects, in addition to around sixty manuscripts and numerous letters, extracts and documents.

The foundation for the collection was laid by Jehuda de Mordechai Cassuto (1808-1893), a native of Amsterdam who moved to Hamburg and who acquired a sizeable library of Spanish, Portuguese and Hebrew works in 1835 in the form of a collection started in the seventeenth century by a Portuguese Jew in Hamburg. Isaac Cassuto (1848-1923), Jehuda’s son, expanded the library considerably and published historical articles based on the collected material.

His son Jehuda Leon Cassuto (1878-1953) had little time to devote to the contents of the library, although he lavished large sums on new acquisitions, leaving the study and description of the books to his son, Alfonso Cassuto (1910-1999). A task which the latter took up enthusiastically, while later also contributing to the further extension of the collection. In 1972, for example, he published a significant article in Studia Rosenthaliana on some of the more costly items in the collection, entitled ‘Seltene Bücher aus meiner Bibliothek’; the good relations with Bibliotheca Rosenthaliana which developed (building on earlier contacts too) probably helped persuade Alfonso Cassuto some years later to sell his collection to the Amsterdam University library. There it is included in the famous Bibliotheca Rosenthaliana

^Isaac Cassuto

Álvaro Leon Cassuto (b. 1938)

Son of Alfonso Cassuto, who lived in Hamburg and fled the nazi's to Portugal.
Appointed subdirector of the RDP Symphonic Orchestra {Portuguese Radio Broadoasting Station) in 1970, and elected conductor in 1975, Álvaro Cassuto entered upon an active International career conducting some European and American orchestras {BBC, Berlin, Prague, Brussels, London and Philadelphia Phillarmonic Orchestras among several others). He studied with ,Freitas Branco in Lisbon and with Von Karajan in Berlin, became assistant of Leopold Stokowsky in New York in 1968, and fn 1969 he was awarded the prize Koussevitzky by the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He also graduated in Law by the Lisbon University and in Orchestra Conduction by the Vienna Conservatory.
He was director of the Symphony Orchestra of the California University since 1974. As composer, he writes mainly for orchestra; his works have been performed in several countries and already published in the USA and Germany.

from the Jerusalem Post:

Wandering maestro
By Michael Ajzenstadt
(November 7) - Like most orchestral conductors these days, the life of Alvaro Cassuto resembles that of a vagabond who spends most of his time in airports and hotel rooms.
The Portugese maestro now spends part of his time in a hotel room in Herzliya, in preparation for a series of concerts with the Ra'anana Symphonette Orchestra starting tomorrow night.
"You cannot imagine how calm I am when I realize that what is happening here has nothing to do with what people see on television [about the rioting]. To be here these days and see the country living normally is a great joy," he says.
Cassuto's family history epitomizes the concept of the wandering Jew through the ages. "My ancestors come from Livorno in Italy, and as the Cassuto of the Bible fame came from Florence, I know that sometime in the 18th century we were cousins. My grandfather left Italy and came to Hamburg. And then in 1933 my grandfather and my father moved to Oporto in Portugal, which is where I was born 61 years ago."

Why Oporto of all places? "There was a small Jewish community there and they invited my father, a 22-year-old philology student in Hamburg, to come and teach in their school," he says.
And so Cassuto himself was educated in Portugal, but enjoyed a Germanic education. "Music was part of the household. My grandfather played the violin and my grandmother played the piano, so music was in the house day in and day out."
In Vienna, Cassuto went on to study conducting, and after he won the Koussevitsky award in Tanglewood in 1969, his conducting career began to flourish. He lived in the US for 18 years, and worked as a professor of music at the University of California, music director of the Rhode Island Philharmonic and of the National Orchestra of New York.
In 1986, Cassuto was invited to return to Portugal. There he became founder and music director of the private New Portuguese Philharmonica and in 1993 of the Portuguese Symphony Orchestra.

Cassuto first conducted in Israel in the late 1970s, when he was invited by Lukas Foss to lead the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra. Then he returned three years ago for a series of concerts with the Ra'anana Symphonette, and now is back again with the same orchestra.
"There is a lot of potential in the Symphonette. The musicians are very dedicated and extremely professional - they have a great willingness to make music and so it remains in the hands of the conductor to make music. " Alvaro Cassuto leads the Ra'anana Symphonette Orchestra in music by Rossini, Korngold, Beethoven and Bach, the latter in memory of Yitzhak Rabin. The soloist is Symphonette concertmaster Nitai Tzori. Concerts take place in Ra'anana's Yad Labanim tomorrow, Thursday, and Saturday at 9 p.m.

(source Jerusalem Post, 2000)

David Cassuto (USA)

is a former assistant professor of English at the University of Missouri-Rolla and currently a J.D. candidate at the University of California-Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law. He is the author of Cold Running River (University of Michigan Press, 1994), an ecological biography of Michigan's Pere Marquette River and has just completed another book, this one focusing on water-use in the Southwest and its representations in twentieth-century literature. Cassuto inititated the "green" thread in ebr with a review of the essay collection, Wild Ideas, entitled Wild Ambitions, and he has a review of Johnathan Harr's A Civil Action in the green section of critical ecologies (ebr4), entitled: No More Heroes.
David N. Cassuto, assistant professor of English specializing in literature and ecology at the University of Missouri-Rolla, is the author of Cold Running River (University of Michigan Press 1994).
He is currently on leave to study environmental law at the University of California at Berkeley and is completing a book about the interface between literature and politics concerning water use in the Southwest.
Apparently he is now an attorney, specialized in water issues. For an example of one of his books: See

Susan J. Cassuto
I happened to bump into her on the net as a writer of a sympathetic article on business ethics; she reveals herself to be "Co-manager and V.P. Finance of Kettle Foods, Inc., makers of Kettle Chips right here in Salem".

Leonard Cassuto
Leonard Cassuto is an associate professor of English at Fordham University. He is the author of The Inhuman Race: The Racial Grotesque in American Literature and Culture (Columbia University Press, 1997). His science reporting, which recently appeared on, was selected for inclusion in the forthcoming Best American Science Writing 2003 (Ecco Press).


Emanuele Cassuto

About him I found out he was occupied in the film business in Italia. Most known feat: He was producer of "La notte", the classic by Michelangelo Antonioni.
I wonder what became of him and if he is still alive. I found a picture of him and Sophia Loren, taken in the fifties (1955). There he appeared to be in his forties.

The answer came in may 2006:
",Dear Rob,
i am the nephew of Emanuel Cassuto, who was born in Salonika in 1916 and died in Paris in 1994. He had a very interesting life, never told. He has a daughter in Paris, two sons in Rome and a son in London whose mother is japanese (again!).
Shalom Marco Morselli".

Thanx Marco!

and later I got this message:

"je suis la fille d'Emmanuel Cassuto j'habites Paris et Marco donc le neveu est mon cousin. Effectivement mon grand-père qui s'appellait Joseph était italien et je pense que nos origines sont de Livourne et un des grands Rabins de Florence était Nathan Cassuto qui a donné son nom à la synagogue. Et vous où habitez-vous? Qui est Elissa ? ou peut on voir ce documentaire car nous avons en commun un grand-père du même prénom! Best regards.

Emanuele Cassuto and Sophia Loren more pics of Emanuele and Sophia

family main page | pedigrees |documents | photo galleries | specials | sitemap