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Will Israel get a prime minister of Groningen descent for the first time?

Father of Naftali Bennett was snooping in Groningen archive


It is not clear who will eventually succeed in forming a coalition government in Israel. But in the tug-of-war between the various candidates, a name increasingly emerges as a possible future prime minister of Israel: Naftali Bennett. Special for us: his ancestors come from Groningen. Naftali Bennett (49) is the son of American immigrants who settled in Israel shortly after the Six Day War. His father Jim Bennett was an avid genealogist and many years ago he could be found in the State Archives in Groningen, delving into the family tree of his family. He knew that his great-great-grandfather was born in Groningen.

Bennett's great-great-grandmother was Sarah Solomonson, born in 1865 in Memphis, Tennessee. Her parents were born and raised in the Netherlands. Sarah's father, Joseph Jojada van Ronkel, was born in Groningen in 1835, emigrated to the United States and died in Chicago in 1920. Van Ronkel and the separation

If we go back one generation, we meet the great-grandparents of Naftali Bennett, both born and raised in Groningen where they lived all their lives: Samuel Joseph van Ronkel (1794-1877) and Eva Joseph Cohen (1798-1850).

It is this ancestor of Naftali Bennett, who played an important role in the history of Jewish Groningen. In Groningen in the first half of the 19th century, voices were raised to reorganize the service. Among other things, they wanted to introduce choral singing into the service. Chief Rabbi Dusnus was strongly against choral singing. A split was the result and in 1852 a separated congregation was founded under the leadership of Samuel Joseph van Ronkel. In 1856 this ancestor of Naftali Bennett wrote the program for the dedication of his own synagogue on the Zuiderdiep.


Whether Naftali Bennett will follow in his illustrious ancestor's footsteps and break away from the right-wing bloc in Israel remains to be seen.

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