The roots of a Jewish family lead everywhere over the world


Oral tradition tells that ancestors of the modern Biterman family originated in Spain. In March of 1492, when King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain ordered all Jews to either convert to Catholicism or leave Spain, ancestors of the Biterman family refused to convert. The family was forced to leave Spain. At that time, the Biterman family may have sought refuge the Netherlands, as the Dutch were the enemies of the Spanish.

After massive expulsions of Jewish from the Western Europe (England, France, Germany and Spain) many Jews found refuge in the Polish-Lithunian Commonwealth. Jewish immigrants brought valuable manpower and skills to rising state of Poland.


We are not sure where Biterman ancestors were from the late 1400s to the mid 1500 s, but oral tradition tells thatBiterman ancestors settled in Hrubieszow, Poland in the mid 1500 s. during the Jagiellon Era (1385-1572) Poland became the home to Europe's largest Jewish population. In particular, after the mid-sixteenth century the Polish lands supported the world's largest concentration of Jews, whose number was estimated at 150,000 in the year 1582. Under the Jagiellons, Jews suffered fewer restrictions in Poland-Lithunian than elsewhere in Europe while establishing an economic niche as tradesmen and managers of noble estates.

The 16th and the first half of the 17th century saw increased settlement and relatively fast rate of natural population growth among polish Jews. The number of immigrants also grew, especially in the 16th century. Many Sepharadic Jews from Spain, Portugal, Italy and Turkey came to Poland of their own free will.

The travails of Spanish Jews as they sought refuge wherever they could and their persistent identification for generations with the land they still considered home is a unique and fascinating story. Deprived of their possessions, often murdered on ships for whatever little had left, their travels took them to nearby North Africa, Italy, the Ottoman empire whose sultan welcomed ("if the Spanish sovereign is foolish enough to expel his Jews, his loss will be our gain"), and the frontier edges of the Mew World in their attempt to flee the Inquisition which followed them wherever it could. As concluded, the Biterman family may have stayed in any of the countries of Europe, but by 1560 had settled for sure in Hrubieszow of Poland.


In the 12th century, 90% of the world's Jewish population was Sepharadic. But, by 1700, only 50% of the world's Jewish population was Sepharadic. By 1930, a mere 10% of the world's Jewry was Sepharadic. Today the world Sepharadim has taken a much wider meaning and includes Jewish communities in North Africa, Iraq (Babylon), Syria, Greece, turkey and most Jews who are Ashkenazim.

Today the distinction between Sepharadim and Ashkenazim is primarily one of differing traditions due to their backgrounds. Differing languages (Ladino and Arabic vs Yiddish and Polish), religious melodies during the religious services, festival traditions, Hebrew pronunciation are among the things that differ between Sepharadim and Ashenazim.


In the middle of the 17th century there were 500,000 Jews living in Poland, which meant some five percent of the total population of Poland. This large population of polish Jews, of which the Biterman family was a part, was primarily Ashkenaz in origin. The Biterman family is no different.


By April 1797, Jews in South & New East Prussia (including Poland) were required to adopt surnames, however many families escaped name assignments. It is unknown when or how the surname Biterman came about. There are numerous possibilities regarding the meaning of the surname Biterman. Derivatives were also common as Fiterman, Biderman, etc. one explanation of the surname is that "biter" is polish translation of "bitter", assigned to a sour, bitter, or severe person. If this is the derivative of the name, perhaps it was a surname assigned to the family by gentile Polish officials. An alternative explanation is that the surname is an occupational name derived from the middle-high German bitten, meaning TO BID for a bidder, broker, suitor, or municipal collector. The latter explanation is more logical.


"Yechus" means lineage, distinguished birth and pedigree, and means much more in Yiddish culture, demonstrating healthy and cherished genes, educated and deep Jewish tradition. Most of the Jewish families in the Diaspora adopted this behavior of engaging with Jewish families of same social and educational status, like other families the Bitermans were among the more religious families of Hrubieszow, and thus, married with other religious families, such as Ajdelman, Cimet/Cymet, Finger, Folk, Geryng, Truk and other surnames in the same social class, and thus eligible for intermarriage and suitable for social engagements.

Biterman family members like other Jewish families, were trained in the Jewish traditions of the ancestors. Judah Biterman was trained and instructed in Torah, Talmud and Hebrew language. His father Josef Biterman was devoutly pious man. The Biterman family obviously represents hundreds of Jewish families over the world, and their aim was especially to keep and guard the Jewish ancient legend of culture and history of three thousand years ago.