Quite a lot of frummers in this batch:
Adolf Cremieux was the son of a Jewish silk merchant from Nîmes. Born in 1796, he practised as a lawyer in Nîmes and also spent time in parliament. A liberal.
Fact: I once spent a night in Nîmes while trying to make my way back from Athens to London during the great Icelandic volcano pronunciation crisis of 2010.
Moshe Hayim Luzzatto, also known as Ramhal, was born in Padua in 1707 to Jacob Vita and Diamente Luzzatto. He became a kabbalist at an early age, but for reasons we won’t go into here (but which you can read about here), was forbidden by some rabbis to engage in further kabbalah study until he turned 40. He moved to Amsterdam with his wife in 1735. Like Spinoza, he made a living grinding optical lenses. He subsequently moved to Palestine and died in Acre in 1746.
As far as I can tell, Nachmani Street is named after Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman (1195-1270), otherwise known as Nachmanides or the Ramban. Born in Gerona, Spain, he was something of a Talmudic prodigy and is reputed to have mastered the whole Talmud with all its commentaries by the age of 16. Though carrying out rabbinical duties, he made his living as a physician.
In his late 60s, he took part (reluctantly) in a public disputation with Paulus Christiani, a convert from Judaism, under the aegis of the King of Barcelona. Although his defence of Judaism won the admiration of the king, he eventually got booted out of Spain and moved to Palestine. He died aged 75. Among his writings is a letter to his elder son, Nachman, which he instructed him to read once a week. It includes the following advice, inter alia:
Get into the habit of always speaking calmly to everyone. This will prevent you from anger, a serious character flaw which causes people to sin.
Betsalel Yafe was born in Grodno, Lithuania in 1868. He emigrated to Palestine in 1909. He had a brother. Sorry; I don’t know much else. (According to Harvard University library photo archive, he had a decent enough moustache and goatee. Wikidedia has him with a full beard.)
Yaakov Mazeh (1859–1924) was a Russian rabbi, publicist, and Zionist leader. He practised law for a while after graduating from Moscow University. In 1893, he was appointed state rabbi of Moscow. He played an important role in the acquittal of Mendel Beilis, a Jew accused of murdering a Christian boy in Kiev in 1911 for ritual purposes. Mazeh appeared as an expert witness for the defence. He died in Moscow in December 1924.
Probably his most famous saying:
“It's the Trotskys who make revolutions, and it's the Bronsteins who pay the price."
(Detour: while looking for information on Mazeh, I came across a blog post of an ad for kosher beard removal from the 1880s. (Before you get too excited, I’m not sure this product is still available.)
Samuel David Luzzatto (1800-65) was an Italian rabbi, known, after the initial letters of his Hebrew name, as Shadal (Yes, I know the spelling is different on the street sign). Unlike Moshe Luzatto, he was an opponent of the Kabbalah. He was also critical of Maimonides' attempt to interpret Judaism in the light of Aristotelian philosophy. Not a fan of the golden mean, he argued that the disciples of Abraham are required to go to extremes in generosity. In 1829 Shadal was appointed Principal of the Rabbinic College in Padua. More here.
A.M. Lunz was a travel writer (of sorts) and Hebrew scholar. He published a “Guidebook to Eretz Israel and Syria” in 1891. Born in Kovna, Lunz settled in Jerusalem in 1869. At the age of 25 he became blind. He nevertheless continued his geographical writing and research.