Hidden Inside a Book

Folded inside a book I found two birth certificates. The certificates were very old and scripted in Turkish. Since old Turkish, like Farsi, uses the same characters as Arabic, I was able to decipher enough to figure out that it is the birth certificate of my great great grandfather Yacoub Elias Khashan.

He was born around 1859 (1275 Hijri as it said on the certificate), and died in 1933 as engraved on his tombstone at the Ramallah cemetary. According to Aziz Shahin’s Ramallah book, he got married on Dec 7, 1883 to Hilaneh Salim Yacoub Ajlouni and had two sons (Ayoub and Musa) and two daughters (Nimeh and Hilweh).

Now, why is this specific grandfather so special? No, he did not fight with another bull! It is the fact that he is the reason our family name today is Rabah. See, he used to work in selling olive oil, and apparently, made good money doing so. Eventually, people starting calling him Rabah which means the one who makes good profits. Consequently, his grandchildren took Rabah as a family name until today.


The birth certificate is from the times of the Ottoman Empire’s rule in Palestine. Someone detached the duty stamps from the document. The other certificate I found has the stamps intact, but we’ll leave that one for another time.

— Jack Rabah


3 thoughts on “Hidden Inside a Book

  1. You have to believe me that I didn’t know you post about Le trio Joubran – I love their music!. 🙂 Today a was looking on youtube for arabic music and I discover the Olympia concert! I had a great joy and I must tell that you must be very proud of you ancestors!


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