BELINFANTE , Sephardi family. Its paterfamilias, joseph cohen belinfante, fled Portugal in 1526 because of the persecution of the Jews. The family settled in the Balkans, in the city of Belgrade. After the Austrian conquest of Belgrade, the Jews were denied access to that city, and for this reason a part of the family came over to the Netherlands.
One example is elijah hezekiah, born in 1699. He played an important part within the Portuguese community in Amsterdam. Isaac *Belinfante (d. 1780), son of Elijah Hezekiah, was a Hebrew poet and writer. Elijah Hezekiah's brother, meir Ḥayyim (d. 1721), settled permanently in Amsterdam. His son, saddik (1675–1750), became the chief rabbi of the Portuguese community and was the author of several Bible commentaries and some halakhic writings: Simḥat Ẓaddik, Neḥamot Ẓaddik, and Peri Ẓdadik.
The son of Saddik, moses cohen belinfante (The Hague, 1761–1827), was actively involved in the struggle for Jewish emancipation in the Netherlands. In 1806, Moses moved to Amsterdam, where he became the editor of the official newspaper published in the Netherlands. Moses' brother, jacob cohen (1780–1845), was editor between 1807 and 1837. He also published several Jewish almanacs as well as the Jaarboeken voor de Israelieten in Nederland between 1835 and 1840. Their sister sara belinfante was the headmistress of an Amsterdam school for Jewish girls.
In the 19th century, the Belinfantes were primarily active in the field of journalism. aron belinfante (1811–1881) became a member of the editorial staff of the Dagblad van Zuid-Holland en 's Gravenhage, which was merged with the Nieuwe Dagblad.isaac belinfante (1814–1892) worked for the Nederlandsche Staatscourant and the Algemeen Handelsblad' and was also a co-founder of the Weekblad van het Regt. His brother josephus justus (1812–1882) was co-director of the Nederlandsch Correspondentie Bureau and compiled the Rijks- en Residentie Almanak.maurits ernst belinfante (1849–1903), son of Josephus Justus, succeeded his father at the Bureau and worked as a journalist for several newspapers, among which were the Revue des Deux Mondes and the Chronique Politique.george belinfante (1837–1888), son of Isaac, became known for his polemical writings in the Haagsche Courant and his political letters in the Zaanlandse Courant. In the field of politics, he became known after 1870 as the writer of the chamber reviews for the Nieuwe Rotterdamse Courant.
ary belinfante (1870–1925) became famous in Dutch music circles as a pianist and a teacher at the Amsterdam school for orchestra, and as the founder of the first private school of music. He published several studies on the history of music and on the science of music education.
In the 20th century, also the female members of the family stepped more into the limelight. emilie josephine (or Emmy), belinfante (1875–1944) was educated as a primary schoolteacher, but she became famous as a journalist. In 1901 she became the chief editor of Het Familieblad – 's Gravenhaagsch Nieuws – en Advertentieblad. She was in charge of her own section, using "May" as a pen name. In 1905, she started working for a daily paper called Land en Volk, in which she ran her own women's section. In 1908 she was appointed to work as a regular member of staff of the Nieuwe Courant, in which she reported extensively on the emerging women's movement and on women's issues. Her work as a reporter focused mainly on the women's movement until World War ii. In February 1944 she was arrested and a few months later she was murdered in the concentration camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
judith belinfante (1943– ) was prominent in the cultural and political life of the Netherlands. In 1976, she was appointed director of the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam. From 2003 she was chief curator of Special Collections of the Amsterdam University Library. She was a member of parliament for the PvdA (Dutch Labour Party) from 1998 to 2000.
S. Boas, in: Habinjan, 38 (1984) 22–23; E. Carmoly, in: Revue Orientaleiii (1843–1844), 134–38; J. Divendal, in: H. Berg (ed.), Gelykstaat der Joden. Inburgering van een minderheid (1996) 35–45; idem, in: Studia Rosenthaliana, 31 (1997) 94–138; C. de Greef and J. Salman, in: Historisch Tijdschrift, vii (1991) 35–53; S. Jacobus, in: Hakehilla 42 (1996), 4, 10–11; Nieuw Nederlands Biografisch woordenboeki (1911) 281–82; H. Lakmaker, in: Biografisch Woordenboek van Nederland (2002); J. Meijer, in: Maandblad voor de Geschiedenis der Joden in Nederland 1 (1947–1948), 50–57, 90–94, 141–48, 243–52, 279–86; P.M. Netscher, Levensschets van Josephus Justus Belinfante (1883); L. Shirah, in: Levend Joods Geloof, 43 (1996), 21–22.
[Monika Saelemaekers (2nd ed.)]