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animated rose blooming

"What is in a name?
A rose by another name is still a rose."

Song by the poet Zelda: "Everyone has a Name"


Except for aristocrats, wealthy people and well off Jewish merchants did not get surnames in Eastern Europe until the Napoleonic years of the early 19th century. Most of the Jews from countries captured by Napoleon including Russia, Poland, and Germany were ordered to get surnames.

The reason for the last names were for tax purposes. After Napoleon's defeat many Jews dropped their surnames and returned to "son of" names like MENDELSOHN, JACOBSON, LEVINSON, etc.

During the so called Emancipation, Jews were once more ordered to take on surnames. When Jews adopted family names in the 18th and 19th centuries, the choice was frequently the patronymic and first names thus became family names.

"Jews in the 1800's in Eastern Europe were generally not real attached to their last names - they didn't use it among themselves. And they tried to avoid the draft in Russia by 'fiddling around', having baby boys registered as belonging to another family which had no sons, and doing other things to make it hard for Russia. It was also not uncommon when the couple was not allowed to marry civilly that a couple would marry religiously and the babies would be considered 'illegitimate' by the government and have the Mother's surname (the Father was not her husband according to the government)." From a posting by Sally Bruckheimer

Around 1800 in Germany, Hebrew names were often back-formed from the kinnuy, so Judah Loeb (lion) became Aryeh (lion) Loeb and Issachar Ber (bear) became Dov (bear) Ber.

In Austria The Emperor Joseph made Jews take on last names in the late 1700s. Poland in 1821 and Russia in 1844. Probably some of our families have only had last names for 175 years or less. In France and the Anglo Saxon countries surnames went back to the 16th century.

Also Sephardic Jews had surnames stretching back centuries. (Spain prior Ferdinand and Isabella was a golden spot for Jews) They were expelled by Isabella in the same year that Columbus discovered America. The earliest American Jews were Sephardic.

In the US until relatively recently, and certainly before 1900, you could call yourself anything you wanted. No driver's license, no social security -- call yourself Smith and Smith it was. So if "they" wanted to be Hollanders they called themselves Hollander -- it didn't happen at Ellis Island and it didn't happen in Castle Garden at the whim of a immigration agent. They probably figured Hollander was easier to understand and less 'foreign' to the Americans." From a posting by Sally Bruckheimer

Knowing the naming patterns (and Hebrew holy names) can be very helpful in identifying ancestors and sorting generations.

Alexander Sharon, a noted genealogical authority, posted the following answer to a question by Marlene Bishow

"The list of the permitted name, if (one) exists, should be available through the Austrian Archives in Vienna or the two main Galicia branches in Lwów and/or Krakow. I personally have not come across one as yet.

Katz is a Sefardic surname (see Katz below) and it appears in the Jewish Galicia records before the introduction of Germanic names.

While Sephardi Jews have long since adopted the Spanish practice of surnames, the Ashkenazi have been very conservative, still following the antique custom of using their first, plus father's first name, in a Hebrew -Yiddish form, Dawid ben Solomon, for example.

Sefardi Jews have started to arrive in the territory of Polish Eastern Galicia following their expulsion from Spain and Portugal, (1492 and 1497, respectively) They have been settling in towns and suburbs of Przemysl, Drohobycz, Lwów and Stryj.

According to M. Horn [1] in the Red Rus (Eastern Galicia and Wolyn) lands there were in existence 110 towns and in the 25 of them have been already established Kehillot (Jewish communities).

Jewish Kehillot at this time were located exclusively in the 19 royal ("miasta krolewskie") and 6 gentry towns (miasta szlacheckie), mainly in the eight (8) towns of Lwów and seventeen (17) towns of Przemysl, Belz and Chelm lands.

Sephardim were not accustom to the eastern Jewish lifestyle and the majority of them have moved south to Balkans, Turkey and Greece.

Some of the Sephardim families stayed in Galicia and from those families have originated (known in our proud history) such distinguished scientists, writers, philosophers and medical doctors as Abraham Halevi, Abraham ben Yehuda, Shabtai ben Joseph, a brilliant historian Nathan Hanower, and others [2].

I have been working for sometime on the translation of 17th and 18th centuries Drohobycz Jewish community records but the archaic Polish mixed with the Latin very long law sentences are very challenging.

In the one of those documents [3] there is a short list of the names of Drohobycz Jewish Community executives for years 1716-1765. List is not completed, in some years only Rashim (Heads or Ratmans) and the Head Rashi are listed, in some Anashim Tovim (Good Men) are also added. It also evident that some names were not readable in the original manuscript damaged by humidity or mold.

Name Yehoshua ben Yosef KATZ (kaf-tsade sofit) appears amongst the other Anashim Rashim in Kehilath Vaad 1730 and 1734. Katz is definitely appears as his surname or perhaps his Kohen roots, as his and father's first names (Yehoshua ben Yosef) are follow by Katz.

I recall from my discussion with Israeli friend named Katz, that his surname depicts an alternative meaning of Kohen (Cohn, Kohn) - Kohein Tzaddik (hence: kaf tsadeh), and is definitely not German for a cat.

This is probably the answer to Marlene's question about the special meaning of Katz in Galicia - it is a written proof that Katz was a Kohen indeed."


[1] Horn, M. " Zydzi na Rusi Czerwonej w XVI i pierwszej polowie XVII wiekow.", Warszawa, 1975, page 32 "Jews in the Red Rus during 16th and the first half of 17th centuries"

[2] Caro, J., "Geschichte der Juden in Lemberg, Krakow 1894, page 45 "A history of the Lemberg Jews".

[3] "Reshimat Anshei Hakehilla beDrohobych bshanim 1716-1765"

Further regarding the surname Katz, Alexander Sharon posted the following on 6/2/2005 "It was my understanding that Ashkenazim Jews in Galicia had no official surnames prior to the introduction of the Austrian legislation.

Mention earlier
Drohobycz Kehila records lists Yehoshua ben Yosef KATZ, Rashi of the Kehila in 1730 and 1734. Since Yehoshua ben Yosef was already his Hebrew name, how KATZ was added to this name:

Yehoshua ben Yosef, KZ, or Yehoshua ben Yosef KZ?

And since German Jews had no official surnames prior to the introduction of Judenregelment in 1797, how KATZ surname appeared earlier in Drohobycz ? Couldn't Sefardim use Kohen Tzedek as the surname?"

"Jews in most of Europe did not use surnames until forced to take them by the governments in power from about the time of Napoleon. Before Napoleon, Jews used patronymics (Israel ben Chaim, for example, meaning Israel the son of Chaim). The Napoleonic reforms gave Jews more equal treatment by government but required that they take permanent surnames. The central and eastern European Empires saw the advantages of permanent Jewish surnames in terms of better tracking for taxes and military service. They adopted this requirement in the early 19th century, with less attention to granting more equal treatment for the Jews."

"Most states required that the selected surnames be in the language of the state, or at least that the names not be Biblical in some senses. The language of the Austrian Empire and of the Germanic states was German. The secular language of the Jews of central and eastern Europe was Yiddish, a language with substantial roots in medieval German. The language of the Russian Empire was Russian, a Slavic language. Thus the surnames of central and eastern European Jews sound Germanic or Slavic because they are."

"Sometimes there was indeed a meaning that might translate from a Hebrew term, but in some areas only a limited number of specified names were available for Jews to choose from. From a submission to Gesher Galicia SIG by Peter Zavon

"In much of Germany, Jews did not have fixed surnames until 1812 or even later. At that time, German Jews took all kinds of surnames. Many of these names were based on the profession of the person taking the name. Someone who ran a small shop might well have called himself Kramer or Kraemer." From a posting by Roger Lustig.

Last Name Meanings
Find the ethnic origin and meaning of last names. Surname dictionary and genealogy helps include names of Irish, German, English, French, Italian, and Jewish descent.


"As continuation on the Poland's Partitions subject, please allow me to initiate discussion on the origin of the Jewish surnames in Galicia and lands that were under the Prussia and Austria rules, since they are closely related.

All of us have been always interested with the issue of the origin of the Jewish surnames since this is our only link to the written genealogical records.

Appendix: Jewish surnames - a list of Jewish surnames along with a lot of information about names

Argentinean Surnames

On this web-site you'll find an index of almost all the surnames actually in use in the Argentine Republic (based on 1997 data), with an indication of how many people, aged 18 or more, have each surname.

Belarus Given Name Database


JewishGen Name Database

Chinese Names

During the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644), a Ming emperor conferred seven surnames on the Jews, which still identify them today: Ai, Lao, Jin, Li, Shi, Zhang and Zhao. Shi and Jin are the equivalent of common Jewish names in the west: Stone and Gold.

Dutch Names




Galician Names

As it is generally known, Galician Jews have been compelled to adopt German sounding surnames on July 23, 1787 during Joseph II, Empress Maria Theresa's son rule, following the introduction in 1781 the first genuine reforms in Central Europe - Judeneformen und Toleranzpatent (Jew-reforms and Edicts of Tolerance).

When in 1772 during the 1st Partition, Austria has captured new lands, which covered all of Western and Eastern Galicia, the Empire 1787 rule of surname adoption was extended to the all territories. This also included parts of Wolyn and Podolia that were captured by Austria at the same time.

This rule was extended to the regions of Sandomierz, Lublin and Radom acquired by Austria in 1795.

"There were some Jews who had previously adopted fixed surnames. While not a large proportion of the population, keep in mind that there were many circumstances that might have led to the use of fixed surnames.

When the Jews were invited to come to Poland by the Polish rulers, the idea was that the Jews would bring their financial skills and connections to the country. Many of the Jews welcomed in were from French and Germanic territory and some used fixed surnames because they were business people. Among those early settlers were important and influential rabbinic families seeking a haven where they could feel safe.

Rabbinic families had long used fixed surnames, though there were instances when the husband adopted his wife's surname if it were more prestigious than their own family name. When Poland exiled the Jews, they scattered widely. Some adopted surnames during their exile and returned to Poland with them when they were able to return to their interrupted lives and businesses. For instance, families who went to Italy adopted surnames there. The name Rappaport and other configurations of that name stems from that period. Some rabbinic families had long had surnames like Katz and Sack/Zack that are derived from Hebrew acronyms. Another example of a family with a surname was a Fischel family that was invited to Poland by the king in the mid 1500s. The family came from Bohemia. They were prominent court physicians, rabbis and money lenders for at least the next century and marriages to the females spawned several rabbinic families.

So, while the vast majority of Jews didn't have true surnames but used patronymics and matronymics, i.e., the names of their fathers usually but occasionally, their mothers, some Jews did have fixed surnames prior to the law mandating the adoption of surnames. Then too, Josef II and his mother, Maria Theresa, had made one or two previous, albeit weak and mostly unsuccessful efforts, to require surname adoption during the earlier years of Austrian rule so, presumably, some people did comply with those earlier laws.

The vast majority of Jews did not have fixed surnames in 1788 and so had to adopt one. I have never been able to find any official list (as there were in Germany) providing us with a link for the name used before and the new name. I have written to Vienna and for some years had conversations with people within the Mormon circle interested in Jewish records but no such lists have come to light as yet. There are numerous lists of people in old documents that give us a clear picture of what surnames people used prior to 1788 but without a conversion list, it is very difficult to make the leap from Chaim Dawidowicz to Chaim Rosenberg. From a posting by Suzan Wynne

German Names

German Jews had no official surnames prior to the introduction of Judenregelment in 1797

List of Surnames in Dictionary of German-Jewish Surnames





Hebrew Names, Meanings and What Happened on Your Birthday


"Imperial Statutes Concerning the Organization of Jews,"

Which required Jews to take surnames. Vysochaishe utverzhdennoe Polozhenie. - O ustroistve Evreev. Link to the December 9,1804 and 1835



In general there were Five types of names: (people had to pay for their choice of names; the poor had assigned names)

Names that were descriptive of the head of household:

HOCH (tall)
KLEIN (small),
COHEN (priest),
BURGER (city or village dweller),
SHEIN (good looking),
LEVI (temple singers),
GROSS (large),
SCHWARTZ (dark),
WEISS (white)
Kurtz (short)

2. Names describing occupations:


EISEN (iron),
FISCHER (fish)
GELTSCHMIDT (goldsmith)
Holtz (wood)
HOLTZKOCKER (wood chopper),
KirzneR (a variant of Kirszner,which means "furrier" in Yiddish)
KREIGSMAN (warrior)
Malamed (teacher)
SCHNEIDER (tailor)
Shenker (saloonkeeper)

3. Names from city of residence:



Deutsch (German)
Dreyfuss (Alsatian corruption of Treves)
Dresner (Dresden)
Frank (From Franconia) --some say it's like Frankel, a sobriquet for Ephraim
Horowitz (Slavic: Gurovitz)
Landau (From London)
Littauer (From Lithuania)
Pinsky, Pinsker (From Pinsk)
Pollack (Polish)
Schlesinger (From Silesia)
Schwab (From Swabia)
Spiro (Speyer from Speyer, whence also Shapiro) Pollack (From Poland)
Wiener (From Vienna)
From a posting by Nick Landau

4. Bought names:


Berg (mountain)
GlucK (luck)
Kershenblatt (church paper)
KOENIG (king)
Koenigsberg (king's mountain)
LIEBER (lover)
ROSEN (roses)
ROSENBLATT (rose paper or leaf)
ROSENBERG (rose mountain)
Rothman (red man)
SPIELMAN (spiel is to play)
Stein (glass)
Wasserman (water dweller)

Assigned names (usually undesirable)
PLOTZ (to die)
KLUTZ (clumsy)
BILLIG (cheap)

Italian Names

In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in Italy, the following first names recur: Leucio (or Leucius) Museto, Pitigianus, Picetus, Bonaventura according to a posting by Bruno Bersano.

A partial list of Italian Jewish surnames

Jewish Women's Names in an Arab Context: Names from the Geniza of Cairo


Jewish Surnames


Jews - who we are. Tribe Finder


It was very common in the 19th century that sons took different surnames to avoid military service. It was also common that sons took their mother's surname.


A "secular" name (i.e., another name for a Jewish person, other than his more important Hebrew name which was used to call him to the Torah on Shabbat, Monday, or Thursday, when the Torah is read in shul), which can be in any language (other than Hebrew) which was used in countries in which Jews lived - Aramaic, Arabic, German, French, Slavic, etc. During their sojourn in these countries, such kinuim were found to be attractive to and became used so much by Jews that eventually the Rabbis ruled that they could be used to call a man to the Torah (but only in combination with the man's first Hebrew name). In effect, this means that a name from another language "became" a Hebrew name. From a posting by Professor G. L Esterson

Lithuanian Names






Polish Names

JRI-Poland also has their website Patronymic files which can be downloaded and viewed. These files cover the years 1808-1825 when many Jews did not have surnames and when the Jewish records were recorded together with their Christian neighbors. JRI-Poland volunteers have extracting data from these LDS film in order. Look on the homepage for the link to the patronymic files.
http://www.polishmigration.org/index.php?names=O (Change the letter "O" to the letter you are searching)





Poles do not use patronymics. An unmarried woman may attach "owna" to her maiden name. In some cases she would use "anka" rather than "owna". In similar way a married woman would attach "owna" to her husband's surname. These forms are used less often nowadays.

Prussian Names

Prussia introduced similar to the Austrian law in 1797 known as Judenregelment and forced the use of Germanic surnames on the Jewish population of captured during three Partitions:

Pomorze (Gdansk), Chelmno, Warmia part of Wielkopolska with Bydgoszcz, Torun and Malbork were captured in 1772. This territory became known as West Prussia.

Following Prussian 1793 acquisitions (2nd Partition) the rest of Wielkopolska (Gniezno, Poznan), Plock, Lodz, Czestochowa regions were also incorporated and became known as South Prussia.

1795 (3rd Partition) Prussian new acquisitions of Mazowsze (included Warsaw) became known as Mazovia, and NW region west of Niemen River (Bialystok) was named New East Prussia. The new territory located south of Czestochowa was named New Silesia.



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E.T.A ( Ernest Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann)
A vicious anti-Semitic Prussian law officer was placed in charge of the enforcing Germanic sounding surnames through the new Prussian territories.

Hoffmann developed a list of an 'acceptable' for Jews surnames, and he and his malignant staff clerks foisted unpleasant surnames on the poor Jews, who were unable to come up with a bribe to secure a 'pleasant' surname. Hoffmann became later famous after the publication of opera "The Tales of Hoffmann".]

Russian Names

"A Dictionary of Period Russian Names"
Over 25,000 surnames




Russia has introduce law for surnames use for Jews in 1804 during but in reality start enforcing this policy only in 1834.

And this is my point - Jewish people that have been under Austrian or Prussian reign prior to 1815 Vienna Congress have been already given German sounding surnames which have been later accepted by the Russian administration. And this is a main reason for the Jews having German sounding surnames through the Congress Poland."


[1] Karl Emil Franzos, "Namensstudien", 1880
[2] Erwin Manuel Dreifuss, Die Familiennamen der Jude, 1927
[3] Dietz Bering "The Stigma of Names. Anti-Semitism in German Daily Life, 1812-1933", Cambridge 1992 The above dissertation was posted by Alexander Sharon on 5/25/05

"For those of us interested in genealogy, it is important to know exact origin of the family name: is it Poland, Ukraine or Russia? It can tell where this name was adapted - where your ancestors used to live. What's more - Russian, like some other Slavic languages, has three forms of adjectives: masculine, feminine and neutral. In Polish, the name Charny would be: Charny - Carna - Charno (in Polish Ch = Cz and in Cyrillic, it is one letter not present in Latin). When I was Charny in Russia, my wife was Charnaya. If you are Charny in Lithuania, it would be Charnas (or Charnis) and your wife and daughter would be Charnene and Charnaite. Charny is Polish and - Chorny in Russian and - Cherny in Czechs, etc. In Russian, it is "Black", "Dark" is "Tyomny" (Tyomnaya, Tyomnoe)." From a posting by Vitaly Charny.

Searching for First and Last Names

In many on-line database search forms, the first name field is optional, so how do you know whether you should include a first name in your search? Searching on-line with only a surname increases the number of 'hits' you will get, thus increasing your choices of sites to visit and potentially find information. Using a full name on the other hand, reduces the number of hits you get, which can be helpful when you're dealing with a popular surname. When searching with an uncommon name, search with only surnames; use full names when you're searching for information about someone with a really common name.

A Surname taken from a place is called a Toponym.

Surname Navigator

Search multiple databases with one surname entry. This is a very interesting site as once you fill in with a surname, because of its unique multiple database searching, many different sites that the site finds containing the surname selected by you pops-up. Although I didn't find any truly relevant connections, it did provide me with some interesting links.

There has been a major update for the Surname Navigator, a simple one- button-form METAsearch engine for surnames and "cross-border" emigration research with the click of a button. Surname Navigator facilitates the searching of multiple databases with one entry.

In addition, other sections of the site are applicable to other countries. There is a global version and separate versions for 45 countries. It's a good starting point to search for a name. Researchers can save many hours using METAsearch engines such as these. Some have reported excellent results. (Works with functional pop-ups) If you leave all the boxes checked, it will open 6 to 10 windows. If you want less windows, just uncheck the databases you don’t want to have searched.


These are the countries that Surname Navigator searches:
Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Czech Rep., Denmark, Ecuador, England, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine


"A Dictionary of Jewish Names and their History"
Authored by Benzion C. Kaganoff published by Schocken Books, New York in 1977 Buy from Amazon.com Buy from Amazon.comBuy from Amazon.com Buy from Amazon.com and "The Complete Dictionary of English and Hebrew First Names" are two fine books with realistic naming information. Bear in mind though, that names of ancestors or the correct spellings of names is not scientific.

"A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Kingdom of Poland"
Authored by Alexander Beider.
Note that many times, old records spell a name one way, while shtetl records may spell (or even name the same person) differently. Much of these differences come about because of the specific location within a country. My surname, Margulis, is pronounced Mar goo liss in Ukraine, and Mar GO liss in Lithuania and Poland. This is one of the problems that a Jewish genealogical researcher faces, so therefore Mr. Daitch and Mr. Mokotoff created a Jewish version of the Soundex system. This system allows a search on every possible name that uses most of the same letters and will return every possible name it identifies with those letters. A free database covering these area include: the Ukraine, Belorussia, Bessarabia, Lithuania, and Russia.

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"A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire" and "A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Kingdom of Poland" Buy from Amazon.com Buy from Amazon.comBuy from Amazon.com Buy from Amazon.com
Authored by Alexander Beider. Beider is a Moscow born Jewish émigré living in Paris and is a proven skilled and savvy name smith. He is a computer consultant and project analyst by day, and moonlights in libraries and archives, in Paris and elsewhere, to research his favorite topic -- Jewish names. His books are published by Avotaynu, Inc. of New Jersey. Check this site for Jewish names:


"Alternate Surnames in Russian Poland"
Authored by Lauren B. Eisenberg Davis's JewishGen InfoFiles. It is about Polish names


"Everyman's Judaica"
A great research resource. Click on the image for additional information.


Family Chronicle Cover"From A Dictionary of Ashkenazic Given Names: Their Origins, Structure, Pronunciation and Migrations"
Authored by Alexander Beider


"Hebrew Deeds of English Jews Before 1290"
Authored by Myer David Davis and published in London by Publication of the Anglo-Jewish Historical Exhibit, No. 2, Office of the "Jewish Chronicle", 1888).


"Jewish Family Names and Their Origins: An Etymological Dictionary"
Authored by Heinrich W. & Eva H. Guggenheimer Buy from Amazon.com Buy from Amazon.comBuy from Amazon.com Buy from Amazon.com

"Jewish Naming Convention in Angevin England"
By Eleazar ha-Levi. The purpose of this paper is to use the naming conventions adopted by the Jews of Medieval England (c.1070 - 1290) as a way of generalizing the rules of period Jewish naming. Three basic rules were applied in naming Jewish children throughout the medieval period and, even, up to the present time: the Talmud, kinnui (secular) versus shem ha-kadosh (sacred) names, and the role of the female in Jewish ritual practice.

"Jewish Personal Names: Their Origin, Derivation and Diminutive Forms"
Authored by the late Rabbi Shmuel Gorr and later edited by Chaim Freedman and published by Avotaynu in 1992.

"The Origin of Jewish Surnames"
Authored by Benzion Kaganoff

"Russian Jewish Surnames"
Authored by Boris Feldblyum


General Name

"Inherited surnames were virtually non-existent among European Jews at the beginning of the 19th century. Depending on where your family came from, adoption of surnames occurred officially as late as 1845 in Prussia, 1826 in Russia. Jews in Prussia were forced to take surnames in 1812. The rules were applied in Austria in 1787, under French (Napoleonic) rule in 1808, and in most of Germany before 1820."

"The Jews however did not adopt the names with enthusiasm -- they helped the government tax and draft and restrict the Jews. In the culturally more advances countries, the adoption of surnames was linked to a wide range of civil and civic rights; in many cases, however, these rights were soon limited again or rescinded."

"Brothers often took the same surname; cousins didn't coordinate. It wasn't just a matter of indifference, though, that cause different names to be adopted." From a posting by Michael Bernet

"In the case of oral traditions, the number of generations from the event will impact the story. Says Chaim Freedman, noted genealogists and author, "If someone's grandfather says HIS grandfather was a fourth generation descendant of a famous rabbi, there are 32 possible lines of descent." If the link is not found by the current generation, and the next generation must look for it, there will be 64 lines to research." This was obtained from an article entitled "It's All Relative: Seeds of Truth" by Schelly Talalay Dardashti in her column - City Lights -in The Jerusalem Post dated February 14, 2002 - Schelly Dardashti Email: address: schelly@allrelative.net

I found the following posting on JewishGen of February 20, 2002 by Jeanne Gold quite interesting as she showed the sources she had used to find Lomza - and Israel MORRIS. This information could be used by others - a sort of a template to follow for finding information. Thank Jeanne Gold Groupie@digging4roots.com not me.

Using the Morse/Tobias search pages stevemorse.org for the Ellis Island database produced over 200+ hits for the surname MORRIS.

Consolidated Jewish Name Index

and more than 180 names came up for the DM 694000 (MORRIS). Specifically for this surname, I found the following references most suggestive:

MORES - A, B; MORETS - B, J, N; MORETZ - B, M; MOREZ - B; MORICE - S; MORIS - I, Q, m; MORISSE - R; MORITS - C, H, J; MORITZ - A, H, I, L, M, P, Q, R, S, T, i ,j, n

which means these surnames can be found in the following:

B: All Lithuanian DB
C: All Belarus DB
H: JewishGen Family Finder
I: Family Tree of the Jewish People
J: Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire
L: Sourcebook for Jewish Genealogies and Family Histories
M: Index to Russian Consular Records
N: Belarus Surname Index
P: First American Jewish Families
Q: Palestine Gazette
R: Gedenkbuch (128,000 German Jews murdered in the
S: Index to Memorial to the Jews Deported From France
T: National Registry of Jewish Holocaust Survivors
i: Cleveland (Ohio) Burials
j: Birth Index for Buda Jewry 1820-1852, 1868
n: ROM-SIG Family Finder

     and most interesting:

m: Surnames in the Lomza, Poland, Yizkor Book

The Quantitative Analysis of Family Name: Historic Migration and the Present Day Neighbourhood Structure of Middlesbrough, United Kingdom


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Behind the Name

The etymology and history of first names
Deals with English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Muslim,
Indian, Irish, Mythology, Biblical
and many more name subjects

Kabalarian Philosophy behind a name
Ask yourself: "If I did not have a name, how could I identify myself? If I had no name, who would I be?"

Personaemicon Online
Facts about people's names and their meanings.

Boy  Names

The origin and meaning of some of the most common Jewish names for boys

Definition of Given Names

(Note there are no absolute Hebrew/Yiddish/English equivalents. Originally, various Biblical names were translated into German and were known as "kinnuyim.")

Later on, these German names were translated back into the
Hebrew equivalent
of the Germanized name. Hirsch, for example, became Zvi - another name for deer.) Binyamin = Wolf = Ze'ev, Judah = Loeb / Leo = Aryeh. Issachar is rendered as Baer / Ber which is translated back into Dov; (the Issachar = Baer / Ber process i a little complicated) Generally, the Biblical names are older, the Dov, Ze'ev, Aryeh, Zvi names appeared in the last two centuries or so. an in Poland, for example.

There are four very commonly used animal names (both in Hebrew and in Yiddish) which are frequently used in the naming of boys, especially in Eastern Europe, over the last few hundred years. Therese are the Hebrew names Aryeh, Tsvi, Dov and Ze'ev (In Yiddish - Leyb, Hirsch, Behr and Wolf - meaning literally in English, Lion, Buck, Bear and Wolf). In Hungarian, wolf is Farkas (pronounced Farkash)

Because of the tendency for many Jews to move around in Europe and North America during this period, many Jews often tried to 'localize' their names into the local linguistic equivalents. The result was that, for example, Aryeh or Leyb often became Leo, Leon, Loeb and other equivalents in various parts of the world. Very often, diminutives were also used, such as Velvel for Wolf and Beryl for Behr. From a posting by Chaim Charutz

Many 'popular' names were simply adopted by Jewish people for what can be described as the need 'for the local consumption' without any direct equivalency. Selection was simply based on the finding a popular local equivalent, retaining usually the first letter of the Jewish name. Thus Izak was 'converted' to Izydor or Igor, Chaim to Heinek and Rubin to Rom

Denmark: Top 100 Surnames in Denmark


English Versions Of Foreign Names

This list is not a bible, just more commonly acceptable name conversions.

The population of the 19th century England to which most of today's Anglo-Jews emigrated was far more homogeneous; thus, "foreign" names stuck out like a sore thumb. So the rate of Anglicization of Jewish names was far higher than in USA -- where Jewish names would hardly stand out in the New York City phone book among the names of German or Russian gentiles. From a posting by Judith Romney Wegner

Family Chronicle

Surname Origin ListFamily Chronicle

Family Names (Surnames)

Family names were not used officially by Jews in Germany (except in Hesse-Cassell) until the early years of the 19th century (the year depends on location). Male Jews were known by their first name followed directly by the name of their father sometimes with the addition of Jud; Females were known by their first name+wife/widow/daughter of [full name].

Try a membership at Ancestry.com Register to win the Ultimate Family History Journey at Ancestry.com!

Check out this newsgroup alt.family-names You have to type in this URL in order to join this site, but you will find users posting names, birth dates and other information.

Titles such as Reb is a Yiddish honorific equivalent to Mister.

Foreign Name Cross-Referenced

This site allows you to cross-reference English given first names to their Czechoslovakian, German, Hungarian, Polish, Slovakian, Russian or Yiddish or equivalents. Great site!

German Names

According to Alexander Beider, author of several books on the subject of names, he observed that "Jews borrowed a very significant number of names from their Christian neighbors during the 11th to the 13th centuries." His research into Jewish first names also led him to question what many Jewish historians have long held as fact -- that the Jews of Eastern Europe were descended from the earlier Jewish settlements in the Rhineland. "This idea is very simplistic" and accounts for only part of the picture, he said. "It should be nuanced"

"German Jews did not name children "after" a living ancestor. That was as much a non-no as it was in Eastern Europe. Nor was there a hard-and-fast rule about whom children were named after ; it was something worked out by the parents on the basis of those who had died, those who had already had a child named after them, the social or rabbinic standing of an ancestor, whose side of the family needed appeasement and so on--and often on the basis of a relative who had died in the months immediately preceding the birth."

"There are two reasons why some mistakenly assume that children were named AFTER a certain living person.

1. In Western European countries it was the official civil (not Jewish) rule that Jews without specific surnames had their fathers' names tacked on after their own. My oldest recorded ancestor in the direct male line was Suessel Hirsch; all his children had Suesslein tacked on their names: Hirsch Suesslein, Salomon Suesslein, Mandel Suesslein, Elkan Suesslein and so on. Hirsch's son Suesslein was called Suesslein Hirsch, Salomon's son might be names Suesslein Salomon and so on. This was very close to the Hebrew naming system where the word for "son of" (Heb. "ben," Aramaic "bar" would be placed between the name of the son and of the father. This pattern often continued for a generation or so after family names were acquired; often these family names were the names of the father, e.g. my ancestor Baruch, son of Wolff took the full official name Baruch WOLFF. Again, though the second part of their name was that of their father, it remained the father's personal name and was never the son's personal name."

2. "
There was no rule about giving someone the same first name as that of a living person. In my mother's family there were many ancestors named Leo and many named Jonas. As a result my mother had nearly a dozen cousins named Jonas (her grandfather had 16 children) and another dozen named Leo. She also had a brother named Jonas; the only reason why she didn't have a brother Leo was that she had only one brother."

"From about 1850, with the spread of reform Judaism and a giving up of traditions, some Jews in Germany (and France and Hungary and the United States . . . were less concerned about Jewish traditions and here or there a child might even be given the father's name, but it was relatively rare and cannot be said to have been part of a style or subject to a rule."

"It warms my heart to see how JewishGenners are eager to help fellow Genners understand their ancestry but we should all be careful not to simply repeat as if true stories that we have not properly learned or studied." From a posting by Michael Bernet

In the 19th century, Jews in Germany strongly began to adopt a certain set of about 500 German secular names which were ultimately recognized by the rabbis as acceptable to be written in a Get (Jewish divorce document).

"About 1948, a new German law removed the names Israel and Sara that had been added by the Nazis, and some birth records reflect this reversal. I have been puzzled, though, by the lack of a clear pattern as to which records show the removal. I have never seen the notation on the birth record of anyone who survived the Holocaust: only those who had been murdered seem to have 'benefited' from the 1948 law. I believe that in 1938/39, each individual had to appear at the Standesamt of the town where their birth was registered to take on the added name, so that those who had emigrated never had the name added; the notation of an added name provides a date on which the individual was definitely still alive and in Germany. Clearly, the individuals themselves were unable to participate in the removal of added names. So at whose instigation was this function performed? It was not done by systematically going through birth registers and adding a notation to each record with an added name. The process lasted over many years, well into the 1950s, and birth registers contain records with and without removals, apparently arbitrarily intermixed. From a posting by Dick Plotz Dick@plotz.com

Girl Names

The origin and meaning of some of the most common Jewish names for girls

Given Name Definitions

Bunya and Bona JewishGen Digest Archives of October 17, 1999

An informative discussion about the use of names is posted at the JewishGen Archives site. It is dated 12-04, 2002 and written by the eminent Professor G. L. Esterson. The title is "Re: Romanian first names for Daniel".

Given names were often changed when someone had a serious illness. I personally was given a second name of Harvey (English for Chai - life) when I was only a few months old as I had a serious health problem. This was done by my parents to "fool" the Angel of Death which explains why my middle name is Harvey (Chai for life).

A searchable data base has been set up for Jewish given names used in Lithuania during 1795-1925, and links are made in each record to the new local vernacular names adopted in this same time period in nine Foreign countries (Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Palestine, South Africa, UK, US) to which Lithuanian Jews immigrated. Thus, this data base includes the Hebrew, Yiddish, and local & other-European-country secular names used in Lithuania, as well as new vernacular names used in foreign countries. Visit the Lithuanian Given Names Data Base for more definitions

Remember that in certain locations and certain eras, it was common for a Jew's second name to be actually the first name of his father.

Another point to remember, when wondering why an ancestor's name on a tombstone (or in any other written form) was/is different is because of the following possible reasons:

1. People mumble
2. People forget
3. People decide they prefer one name over another
4. People are misinformed

The following information is attributed to Prof. G. Esterson jerry@vms.huji.ac.il as posted on JewishGen Discussion Group of December 27, 2001 and entitled

"GNDB Hints & Kinks: 1:Given Names Data Bases & Yiddish dialects"

"The new set of 15 Given Names Data bases provides excellent opportunities to find additional given names which may appear for your ancestors in various European archival documents. Since this (Hints & Kinks) is an on-going project, we are updating the data bases and text files periodically. This factor has implications for how you might want to use other GNDBs if the one for your particular European country of interest is less developed than that of some other countries.

You can visit the URL

and examine the large table there which summarizes the state of development of each European country's project in terms of a number of project phases and foreign-country vernacular names. This table is updated when new names are added to the data bases. Here is a short summary, breaking up the European countries into three approximate-development groups:

Advanced: Belarus, Lithuania, Poland

Medium: Galicia, Germany, Holland, Hungary,
Latvia, Ukraine

Elementary: Denmark, France, Prussia, Romania,
Russia, Sweden

"Elementary" means that the data base has a set of basic legal names plus a sometimes small number of other European Jewish names added. "Medium" means that certain project phases are well advanced, while others are not, and that some foreign vernacular names may be present. "Advanced" means that the number and quality of European Jewish names is good to excellent, and that the number of foreign vernacular names is medium to good.

Now, what does this mean to you, if your particular country of interest is not in the "Advanced" category? Here is one thing that you can do, depending on the Yiddish dialect spoken in your European country.

There were four main Yiddish dialects in 19th-century Europe: Western, Polish/Galician, Litvishe and Ukraine:

Western: Denmark, France, Germany, Holland,
Hungary, Prussia, West Romania, Sweden
Polish: Poland, West Galicia
Litvishe: Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania, Suwalk
Guberniya, Northeastern Ukraine
Ukraine: East Galicia, East Romania, Ukraine
(except northeastern)

Similarly, by examining the data bases of the "Big Three" (Belarus, Lithuania, Poland), you may get good ideas about other names that you have seen but not considered for your ancestors. A lot of the given names throughout Europe were well-shared among all of the countries, even though specific countries had their own preferences

for some names. Furthermore, the basic set of Hebrew names used to initiate each country's data base represents quite well the common choice by all regions of this small set of names, followed by the addition of other preferred names."

Database of likely Given Names abbreviations

Given Names Database

Some of the entries included in the
Vsia Rossia - "All Russia" Business Directory
refer to different state and local offices where Jews were not allowed employment. These entries are of less interest to Jewish Genealogy so, to save time and money, these fields may contain un-translated Russian transliterations.

Web Wide Surname Locator

Hebrew Naming

The website "My Hebrew Name" offers a free, online, database to look up, view, print and save your/their Hebrew name (s).

Your Hebrew name is displayed using the Hebrew characters with nikud (vowels) and provides a transliteration for those who have not yet mastered the reading of this ancient/modern language. You do not need Hebrew fonts to view or print the Hebrew names.

The database also contains thousands of English names linked to the Hebrew names, although one's English name (s) and Hebrew name (s) may not be related. The Hebrew Name database contains direct transliterations of many Hebrew names, offering many links between English names and Hebrew names based on popular usage. From a posting by Pamela Weisberger


In the Netherlands, as in all of French Napoleonic occupied Europe, the Jews were ordered to choose [and register with the local "Maire"] a surname [as all (!) inhabitants were considered citizens], over here that was in 1811.






Hungarian Naming

"Many of my Hungarian Jewish relatives had names that are on Rachel's list or are similarly Germanic or Hungarian."

"Rachel doesn't indicate the context in which she found these names (e.g. civil records, Jewish records, census records) or whether her relatives used these name in Hungary or after they emigrated. She also doesn't indicate whether they also Magyarized their surnames. My less affluent, more orthodox Hungarian relatives spoke Yiddish at home and used Yiddish names among family but had a Hungarian name used outside their immediate circle."

"For example, my mother has a cousin she always referred to as Pinchas who identified himself as Paul to immigration officials and was called Pityu in Hungary. Many affluent and assimilated Hungarian Jews spoke Hungarian or German at home and were given Hungarian or German names, rather than Yiddish names at birth. In the birth records their religious (Hebrew names) are in parentheses following the Hungarian given name."

"Other examples include my father B. Kereszt, Hung. in 1903, who was named Elemer, a very Hungarian name that is not really a Magyar version of Elmer. His family spoke Hungarian at home. He could only understand Yiddish, which my mother spoke at home, because he had studied German in school. He had a brother born Miksa who was called Max. Several cousins were named Arpad, another traditional Magyar man's name with no Anglo counterpart. I've also come across or have family named Maria (Marika), Ludvik (Lajos), Marta, Frieda (Fried), Hugo, Kornel (Cornelius)." Submitted by Vivian Kahn, Hungarian SIG Coordinator

Hyphenated names



Index to the Given Names in the 1292 Census of Paris


Iranian Naming

As in family names around the world, Iranian names (of any
origin) can indicate geographical location, physical or personality characteristics, occupation, etc.

Jewish Family Names and their Origins: An Etymological dictionary


Jewish Given Names




Jewish Given Names Found in Les Noms Des Israilities en France


Jewish Men Names, 6th to 11th Centuries


Jewish Naming Guide

A table listing many of the popular names with suggestions for what Hebrew/Jewish names they might take

"In traditional circles in the shtetl were kinuim fairly loosely associated in the way that secular names and their Hebrew equivalents are used nowadays, or were there more rigid naming conventions and if so how do we determine what applied at that time?"

Names in the Fayvush family of Yiddish names were kinuim for the Hebrew name Yechezkeyl in only the following countries: Austria, Germany, and Holland. To my knowledge, Fayvush was not a kinnui for Yechezkeyl in Lithuania.

One of the reasons for these variations from region to region in Europe for where kinnuim were used with specific Hebrew names, was that the Yiddish dialects were different across Europe. Thus in Western Europe, the Yiddish dialect was the Western European dialect (including Germany and Holland), in a transitional region (which included Bohemia, Moravia, parts of Hungary, and other regions) transitional dialects between Western and the Eastern European dialects were used, the Litvishe dialect was spoken in Lithuania, Belarus, Latvia, NE Ukraine and NE Poland, while in most of Poland and Galicia the Polish/Galician dialect was spoken, and in most of Ukraine, parts of Eastern Galicia, Romania, and SE Poland the Ukrainian dialect was spoken.

This topic of Hebrew name/Kinnui relationship was the subject of intense research by rabbis throughout Europe for a number of centuries, as the Yiddish dialects slowly changed and moved around. Their research results were compiled in Jewish law books for Divorce procedures, such as the "Aruch Hashulchan" which applied to the regions where the Litvish dialect was spoken, and the "Get Mesudar" which was mainly applicable to the regions of Germany, with additions for Hungary, and Poland.

For their region and time period, the rabbis' research consisted of gathering name data from Divorce Rabbis (those who wrote the Get for a couple who were divorcing) and analyzing these data statistically for names which must be written in the Gittin. The results of their data analysis showed clearly what were the Hebrew-name/Kinnui relationships which were chosen by Jews on a statistical basis. The rabbis summarized these results in their books of Hilchot Gittin (Laws of Divorce) and these books were guidebooks for the Divorce Rabbis.

One must not be rigid in using these regionalized Hilchot Gittin books, for Jews moved around from region to region for a wide variety of reasons, including finding a marriage partner, and also forced migrations as a result of persecution. So, it is possible to find exceptions to the rules listed in one region's book. Still, this exception only allows genealogists to adopt a trial hypothesis which much be proven by further research."

One can obtain more information by reading the discussions included in the JewishGen Given Names Data Bases web site at this address: From a posting by Prof. G. L. Esterson

Jewish Naming Traditions

There are many sources for explanation of Jewish naming traditions. Sephardic and Ashkenazic traditions differ greatly. For detailed information:






Jewish Naming Conventions in Angevin England


Khazarian Names

Kevin Brook

List of Names

Obtained from Avotaynu's List of Beider names

List of Names that start with "Katz"


Meaning of Names




Medieval Jewish Names

Organized by period and location and by etymological origin

Medieval Spanish Jewish Names of the 13th and 14th Centuries

And Spanish Names from the Late 15th Century

Middle Names

"We have to be careful in interpreting 'middle names'. In most places, Jews did not have middle names as we know them in the 21st century US."

"Many Eastern Europeans had a patronymic, usually with a '-witz' or '-owna' ending, with variations because of different languages. However, sometimes the patronymic did not have such ending- this was common in Western Europe-Marum Moses was Marum the son of Moses."

"It is also possible that the 'middle name' is not a separate name, but part of a double name- Abraham Samuel Ruslander had the first name 'Abraham Samuel' and no middle name. He could be called Abe or Sam or something else. It can be confusing as nobody specifies."

"The 'middle' name can also be a nickname, some characteristic which is used to distinguish the holder of the name from others of the same first name. My favorite is a Dutch 'Verooglooper' (please excuse the spelling, I don't have any copy of a document at hand). Abraham Verooglooper-Abraham the Gimp in English. Sometimes you get a place name used this way as well."

"It is possible that the wife's name is added-like Mina's Abraham (in English) as opposed to another Abraham. Minin could well be this, as the form is right."

"And there can be a Yiddish, a Russian, a Polish, a Lithuanian, a Hebrew name-it is possible that one of those got tossed in with another."

"And of course there are various types of diminutives of the various types, so there are lots of possibilities. For this particular situation I don't have any firm answer. " From a posting by Sally Bruckheimer sallybru@bluemoon.net


It is confusing to see a name sometimes ending in ski or ska, but it is very easy to overlook the names ending in -owy/ -owa. The explanation is the same; grammatically speaking, names ending in -ski and names ending in -owy originated as adjectives. As such, they change endings depending on gender (and other grammatical considerations). Stawowy means literally 'of the -saw_" (usually referring to 'body of water, pond," although -staw_ can mean other things).

It takes a masculine ending -y when referring to a male; but when referring to a Mrs. or Miss Stawowy, you would indeed say Stawowa. The bottom line is, whenever you make a general statement, count on it; there will be exceptions. But the only way to proceed is to start with the general statement, then tackle the exceptions if need be.

Written records exist for Ashkenazi Jewish common people mostly as civil records which began in most of Europe by Napoleon in 1812 when an edict, he directed, required a surname of all of his subjects.

A helpful surname search feature, besides searching in the usual manner, is now you can browse for family surnames at this site offered by Helm's Genealogy Toolbox

'Behind the Name'
A web site that offers 'the etymology and history of first names' relative to English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Indian, Irish, Mythology, Biblical and more at

Name Changing at Ellis Island

In the following excerpt from the Genealogical Journal, Volume 23, Numbers 2 & 3, 1995, the following information is of importance to the researcher. "Page 79: "Ellis Island's Myths and Misconceptions"

"Myth: Immigrants often had their names changed at Ellis Island."
"The majority of passengers were detailed on the ship's manifest before the vessel left the port of departure. The purser or ship's officer was familiar with the name and ethnicity of the many passengers who typically used the port. The ship visited the port several times each year. The captain and the medical officer swore affidavits to the accuracy of each group of lists, with one to thirty people in a group."

"On arrival in the port of New York,
The US inspectors boarded each vessel and examined the manifest and tickets of all classes of passengers. For those passengers taken to Ellis Island, immigration officials reviewed the questions and answers with each person. The inspectors developed systems to prevent the misspelling of names. To handle difficult names, interpreters were on hand who could understand more than thirty languages from Albanian to Yiddish."

"Between seeing the name on the manifest and writing it on a landing card there was a chance of changing the name. A few immigrants requested a name change, as a new beginning. Historical records and individual testimonies indicate that most name changes occurred during the naturalization process, not at Ellis Island."

"Names were rarely changed intentionally.
From mere confusion or a lack of communication, names were sometimes cropped, spelled phonetically, or substituted with the name of a hometown. Will this most common myth about Ellis Island ever change?"

"Names were *not* changed at Ellis Island as evidenced that passenger manifests were *not* created at Ellis Island. The stories that names were assigned at Ellis Island is pure myth, nothing more, nothing less and only serves to perpetuate misinformation for those searching their ancestry."

"Passenger manifests were created (usually) by the purser of the ship under the direction of the captain. Upon arrival at the port in the U.S. the passenger manifest was *handed* to the immigration officials."

"If a name was misspelled by the purser, and the immigrant was literate and could point out the error to the immigration official, the name was corrected on the manifest."

"Most name changes came about as a result of the immigrant desire to Americanize names and this usually happened some time after arrival. Try comparing the passenger arrival record to what appears later in either city directories, or on naturalization papers. Also bear in mind that immigrants arrived with identification papers ... and in some cases those papers were false and can thus explain a name different that what the family name actually was at the time."

Another possibility: there might have been relatives in the US who recommended a name to your ancestor who came to the US on a ticket with the name, or it may have been changed any time later. It the early days (1900 included), there was no necessity of changing a name through a court order, one day someone would decide his last name sounded better as Morris than Manischewitz (or whatever), and started to use that, so don't expect to find a record of the change itself. To track down a change, you would have to check every record you can think of in the US, backwards. Posted by Sally Bruckheimer.

"There are legitimate reasons that names were changed, but the story that they were changed at Ellis Island for whatever reason is not one of them." There are many sources

If you assume that your ancestor change his name and was done through the legal system and not simply by customs, you can check the court records. In most states, the person would petition the local superior court for permission to change their name. The court would then review the petition, hold a hearing and then grant the change. The petition and court order would be kept on file. If you can't find the petition under the original name, you might look for it under the changed name. In some locations, it is possible that this function of name changing would be handled by a probate court, or in the case of a child or divorce, a family court.

Name Searching on the Internet

People search database
Follow the link for People Search and enter the name you are researching.

Here you can use a name and/or a phone number in the 'Search' bar

Names from Hebrew Chronicles of the 10th to 13th Centuries



Kin is not standard, but in is one of several suffixes used to form a patronymic or metonymic surnames. If you want to learn more about how surnames were created among the Jews of Eastern Europe, especially those residing in the Russian Empire, use Alexander Beider's Book
"A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames From the Russian Empire"

ovna = daughter of

ovich or ovitch = son of ...

these are the father's name a patronymic.

Surnames were in the main, disregarded.

Nachmanovich is a Russian patronymic or a stipulation of the
father's name, i.e. son of Nachman. We are lucky when this form is used, because it gives us the preceding generation, just as the Hebrew 'ben' or 'bar' would i.e. Jacob ben Isaac. Yacov ben Yitzhak. A Greek equivalent to this name would have been Nachmanides, a form similar to Maimonides. (Moses ben Maimon) From a posting
by Joe Fibel.

Almost any Russia area name ending -ko (-ka for women) is a diminutive. Often women did not have a Hebrew name, only a Yiddish or Slavic one.

"Dictionary of Period Russian Names"
Authored by Paul Wickenden



Naming Customs

In a message dated 1/15/2003 10:15:55 PM Eastern Standard Time, DanielGee@btopenworld.com writes:

"As I understand it. It is traditional to name a baby after a deceased relative, but to reconsider if a relation with that name is alive."

"That is a common misunderstanding. It is common to give a child a name by which to keep the memory of the deceased among the living. Among Ashkenazim in general, one doesn't call a child "after" a living ancestor. However, there is NO qualm about giving many children (cousins etc) the same name, either after the same ancestor or a different ancestor."

"There is a custom that it is improper for a person to utter the name of a parent or grandparent. Thus, if my father Isaac is alive, I might hesitate to call my child Isaac after my wife's deceased father of the same name."

"I might even hesitate to marry a woman named Sarah if my mother Sarah is alive; if I'm not that rigid about things, I might call my son by the variant Itzik or Eysig, and my wife Sorke or Sarai."

"Essentially, "calling after" is a special honor for one deceased; there is no rule against naming many people in the extended family by the same name, either because they're commemorating the same ancestor, or because they're commemorating different ancestors, or because it's a name that my wife and I happen to like."

"The critical point is "naming after." Nothing wrong with just "naming." From a posting by Michael Bernet

"In Sephardic circles it is an honor to name a child after a living relative. Often the name is reversed so that the new baby is Yakov Yosef after a father named Yosef Yakov. This is a tradition."

"In Ashkenazic circles a child is usually not named after a living relative. This is a custom. To think that giving a name to a child after a living member of the family is a death wish, is superstition."

"It so happens that in Germany it was quite common to name a child of Jakov Joseph, Joseph Jakov. The child's personal name was Joseph. He was not "named" after the father. It was simply common practice that Jews who had no official surname were officially known by their own first name followed by the father's first name, without the intervening "ben" or "Sohn des."

"Not long ago someone on this list expressed surprise that the famous leader of Modern Orthodoxy, Rabbi Samason Raphael Hirsch bore the same name as his father. It must be emphasized that he was not "named" Raphael after his father (who was initially named Raphael Frankfurter while he was living in Hamburg); rather, his identity was augmented by the addition of his father's name. Such naming pattern (son's name + father's name) was quite common until the mid-19th century among Ashkenazim in most parts of Europe, including England."

"A Jewish woman was also recorded at birth by her name and her father's name; after marriage, if her name was mentioned in a document, it was either "wife of Joseph" or as "Hannah Joseph ."A widow would have been called simply Widow Joseph." Synagogue records generally followed these patterns, and even tombstones might occasionally leave out the "ben" in the sequence of son + father name.

Naming Patterns

"Using Litvak Naming Patterns to Derive Names of Unknown Ancestors"
An article by Harold Rhode in the Fall 1995 issue of Avotaynu

Naming Practices among Observant Jews - Religious

1. Boys are not named until the 8th day after birth, when they
undergo Bris Milah (circumcision)

2. Girls are named in synagogue by their father the Saturday
immediately following their birth.

"Every boy was given a "shem Kadosh" (holy name) at the circumcision. This was the name by which he was called to the reading of the Torah, on the marriage contract, on a divorce, and under which he was buried and remembered at ceremonial occasions), e.g. Yizkor). (Girls were usually given just one name, which could be Biblical, descriptive (e.g. Scheinele {beautiful} or Braunele (brown-haired), or an attribute (Gittele {good}, Eydele {worthy}) They were also frequently given names derived from popular names in the non-Jewish world?"

"For many reasons -- to make it easier in the non-Jewish world, because the name was considered to be "too holy" for every day use, or just as a local custom -- Jewish boys were generally given also a "kinnuy" (literally name by which he's called). These were frequently a rough translation of the Hebrew name, associated with the Hebrew name, or look-alike or sound-alike to the Hebrew name."

"The kinnuy had official status, both in the Jewish community and in the non-Jewish world, going back a thousand years. Judah was associat4ed with a lion and Jews named Judah were called Leo or Leon in ancient Latin records. The kinnuy always had to be included in a get (divorce) and many rabbis published lists of kinnuyim in books concerning the granting of a get."

"The kinnuy was often coupled with the Hebrew name as a couplet, e.g. Judah-Loeb. Some kinnuyim eventually took on the quality of a stand-alone name and were treated as if they were actually Hebrew names (e.g. Faivel Fayvush and similar which are actually corruptions of a much older kinnuy Vives, a kinnuy/translation for Chaim (Life). The Fayvush etc. name then developed its own kinnuyim including Phoebus (sound-alike), Uri (Hebrew for light --attribute of the Greek sun god Phoebus), Shraga (Aramaic for candle) and Feiffer (sound-alike)

New York Times Names Index

The index lists all the names that have appeared in the NY Times including obituaries from 1851 to 1998. There is also a separate Obit Index. These libraries have a subscription to this index: Princeton University; Monmouth University; Clark Library; City University of the City of New York.


A name derived from that of the father. Example: in a typical Russian name "Mikhail Sergeievich Gorbachev" the second name is a patronymic: it means "son of Sergei", and signifies that this man's father's first name was Sergei. Many Jewish family names originated as patronymics: for example my family name was originally Israelovici, and became my great-grandfather's last name because his father's firs name was Israel. This was quite typical in Romania, where the modern-style family name was not universally adopted until late in the 19th century. From a posting to soc.genealogy.jewish on November 18,2002 by Robert Israel israel@math.ubc.ca

Patronymic is not just a Russian phenomenon. We see the same thing in Jewish records all over Europe, before (and after) inherited surnames. To this day, a Hebrew tombstone will say Abraham ben Isaac, Abraham son of Isaac - often with no surname at all. Christians also use and use patronymics throughout Europe. The Netherlands and Nordic countries used patronymics until very recently - and now we have many inherited surnames which ends in -son and some which end in - daughter which derive from them. Within Britain, patronymics were used, but not as recently as some other countries. From a posting by Sally Bruckheimer

Romanian Surnames



Sephardic Naming

"There is really no way of knowing whether a particular family is Sephardic or not just by last name or location" according to a posting by Leon Taranto LBTEPT@aol.com

"Differences in Sephardic Ashkenazi Genealogy Naming Conventions"
Authored by Jeff Malka

Sephardic naming tradition is naming after living grandparents and other living family members. As a result, across a given generation, there were multiple repetitions of the same first name, since, not only could one set of parents name children after their four respective parents, but so could all their siblings use the same parent's name, as well as uncles' and aunts' names. The Sephardic tradition:

First son named after father's father Second son named after mother's father First daughter named after mother's mother Second daughter named after father's mother

List of Sephardic Surnames

Sephardic Names
Hundreds of Sephardic names (with source notations) taken from civil records of Amsterdam, Bevis Marks records, and other sources are included at a website about Portugal.




Sephardic Surnames Reference List
As of June 5, 2005, there are 5,230 names on the list

Slovakia Surnames - Searching

A Slovak and Carpatho-Rusyn surnames index


How to use and what it is, and other sites designed to assist you in either learning a language or giving you the necessary information to make your own translations and information about names


The 1880, 1900 and most of the 1910 censuses have Soundex indexes on microfilm, which are coded surname indexes based on the way a surname sounds, rather than how it is spelled. Soundex is a code that gives numeric values to most consonants in a surname. All vowels and some consonants are disregarded.

1 - B P F V 2 - C S KG J Q X Z 3 - D T 4 - L 5 M N 6 R
Disregard A E I O U W Y H

Soundex Calculator
For both Windows and Macintosh systems It also does Daitch-Mokotoff calculations, as well.

Using The Soundex System Rules
Some of the basic rules for Soundex include: 1.) vowels don't exist. 2.) S and Z and c and ch and tz and ts are the same 3.) m and n are the same 4.) only the first four Soundex-recognized letters count as being a part of the name. Never drop the first letter of the name; that first letter IS the first character in the Soundex code.

There is a coding variation in the original Soundex documents that NARA does not have on its website. There was an article written on this in a past issue of NGS Quarterly, Volume 89, No. 4, December 2001. You can contact NGS at

Using this coding variation, certain names like ASHCROFT, PATSCHKE, DEMSHKI, BURROUGHS, and KATSCHKE will have a different Soundex code than if you used the instructions on the NARA site.

For example KATSCHKE, according to NARA published rules, is
coded as K320. Using the variation it is coded as K322.

For those of you who have been unable to find your families using Soundex, you should look into this variation. It has to do with the way the letter h (not coded) and letters coded with the same number are handled. Tony Burroughs is the author of the article.

Phonetic systems (Daitch-Mokotoff, American Soundex)
Useful in locating variant spellings. While most tools convert only one name, Steve Morse's site converts an entire list of names to the desired coding

Surname List Belarus, Poland, Lithuania, etc.


Surnames in Dictionary of German-Jewish Surnames



"Surnames named after the place where the family lived are called Toponyms. In Eastern Europe, families, almost universally took on a Toponymic surname after they had moved from that place to another place, frequently nearby. Typically, such names would be Warshawsky, Kalisher, and one of our surnames, Olkeniztki (from Olkenick)."

"However, in reading "The Memoirs of Glueckel of Hamlein", a Jewish housewife and businesswoman who lived in the latter part of the 17th century, it was very clear that the important Jewish families had Toponymic surnames that reflected their current living communities. Not only did they have such Toponymic names, but they also simultaneously had hereditary surnames, which they used simultaneously. Glueckel's father, was from Stuttgart and was called Samuel Stuttgart. Glueckel Stuttgart married Chaim Hamlein and became Glueckel Hamlein. One of Glueckel's daughters married Moses ben Loeb Altona. Altona was a Danish city near to Hamlein. Another child married Samson Baiersdorf. However, once they had taken the name it remained. And so it went." Sent by Joe Fibel JFibel@msn.com

To Transliterate Names from Hebrew to English or vice versa

Requires a great familiarity with Hebrew, a familiarity with at least half a dozen European language and with the variety of Jewish names, much time, much patience and a lot of luck. Who knows, you may be right 25% of the time." Michael Bernet, New York


US Board On Geographic Names Table


What's In A Name?


Yad Vashem Searchable Name Database

Enter as much information as you have, and this database will most likely find the person you are looking for. Hint: In my case, I searched only by "Place of Birth" and what was returned was the names of all those who lived or died in the town.


Yiddish Equivalents for English Names

There are NO Yiddish equivalents. There are Yiddish names, many of them based on Hebrew, Biblical or Rabbinic names.

When folks emigrated from their shtetl, or came to this country, they decided for a what ever reason, to change their name to be" more American". Sometimes they were able to find a rough, sound-alike or look-alike name. Rarely could their Yiddish name be translated into an exact English name. For Biblical names, for example, the English equivalents (e.g. Moses for Moshe) were available, but when you're Americanizing your name, why use one that lets people know you are Jewish? Most of the time, parents of a new born bay, would chose a name that had the same initial sound.

"In truth, the notion that there are really English equivalents to Hebrew names in any serious way is really a "Bubbe Maisa." I was named Robert because by grandmother's name was Rivka and I was given the Hebrew name Rafael because it sounded like Rivka.

It is true that in certain cases there are naming patterns associated with times, places and families who immigrated to the US and attempting to guess the original Hebrew or Yiddish name from the English equivalent for the purpose of seeking earlier documents has validity.

However, to believe that there are real rules to this is to believe that Scott and Jennifer and Tracy have "Hebrew equivalents." This is a waste of time. The most important thing to remember is that the traditional Jews from Europe (Chassidim, Mitnagdim, and plain old Ashkenazi Jews from Oberland, Austria and Germany) tended to name their children after deceased relatives. Jews from Sephardic countries tend to name their children after living relatives." From a posting by Rafi Guber

Yiddish Vowels

Alternate by dialect and the spellings of these alternations also vary.


Given Names

Abram (Abrasha, Abramchik, Abrashenka in Russian)

Normally used as a nickname for the name Abraham. The origin of the name comes from the Gothic name Atha-ulf and means "Edelworlf" in German and "Noble wolf" in English. Jews used
the name at least from the 13th century.

Means a good women a kind of a equivalent to the Hebrew name Tova.

Formally linked by the rabbis to Avraham. The rabbis specified that for men having both names, the two names must be written in the Get as follows: Avraham hamechune Albert, where both components of this legal double name must be written in Hebrew characters. The specific choice of the Hebrew representation of the secular name Albert was chosen such that its pronunciation came as close as possible to that of the original German name Albert. Of course, the given name Albert could have been adopted by Jews with other Hebrew names as well.

And the very popular Hebrew name Avraham had other secular kinuim: Adolf, Aleks, Aleksis, Alfons, Alfred and Arnold and these names also could have been adopted by men with Hebrew names other than Avraham. The details of the variations of these legal double names can be viewed by accessing the German Given Names Database at:

From a posting by Prof. G. L. Esterson jerry@vms.huji.ac.il

Ayin - Lammed - Yod - Zayin - Heh
A Hebrew female name meaning "joyful"

Russian Niura (NYU RHA), Niusia (NYU SYA) and Niula (NYU LAH) Are only a few of the many other diminutive forms of the feminine name Anna (others are: Anushka, Anichka, Aniuta and plenty of others). Russians do love to use diminutive name forms when addressing their babies, pets, ids, family members and close friends. From a posting by Alexander Sharon on JewishGen

A variation of the name Anna

Meaning tree of cedar according to Angel Arriz Tizoc
angelarriz@hotmail.com who also states that 'Arriz comes from Ariz and Ari in Hebrew Leon of God means 'lion'.

Either being Aharon or its kinnui Uren

A Yiddishized version of the Hebrew "Avram", which is Abram in English.

In English it could be Bernhard or Barnett. Or for Dov (Hebrew for bear).

(Hebrew or the Yiddish variations: Basa, Basha, Pessel, Pesia,
Also: Beile or Basia or Bessie. although Bashe can be a Yiddish name by itself, it is often a Yiddish nickname for the Hebrew name "Basia" (Batia in the modern Hebrew dialect).

Bendet (Bendit)
A shortened form of Benedict which is Latin for 'blessed' It is Barukh in Hebrew. It was common for such names to be used as kinuim and coupled with Barukh.

The names Dov and Ber are Hebrew/Yiddish equivalents and are often paired together. The "ko" ending is probably an endearment.

Berl (Berel, Beryl)
(most) frequently, the diminutive of the name Ber (Baer) which is Yiddish/German for bear. In Hebrew, the Ber name would be Dov - or (more likely before the 19th century) Issachar. It has no linguistic link to Binyomin. Both Ber and Baruch (blessed, which becomes Benedikt) are frequently rendered Barnet. Another derivation is Bertshik and Bertzig.

This was given to a son of Berl, which was usually another name for Dov/Ber/Issachar. It does not necessarily reflect that someone came from the city of Berlin.

As a female name, it is pronounced Buril. As a Yiddish male name, it is pronounced Bearil

A Hebrew name, that of the artisan- designer of the Tent of the Covenant after the exodus.

Other variations are Bunem, Bunma, Bina, Bima, Binish, Binka, Bimla, Bishka, Bunmi, Binya, Bimla, Boehm, Benjamin, Ben

A Yiddish variation of the Hebrew word/name "Bracha" (blessing, fem.)

Bunya (Bona)
The name Bunya came from Bona and Bona is a very common old Jewish name. It is a nickname for the Hebrew name Tova. It is found in the 11th century as the name of the wife (perhaps second wife) of the Ragm'a, Rabenu Gershom ben Jehuda Me'or Ha-Gola, one of the first great German-Jewish scholars and leaders (960-1028). We know this wife because the Ragm'a gave her a new "ketubah" (marriage contract) in place of the old one that she lost. And from this deed we know her name Bona bat David. Source: "The Early Sages of Ashkenaz" by Avraham Grossman, published in Jerusalem 1988 by the Magnes Press page 111/112. There are known Jewish women in France in the 13th century with the name Bonne. (E in French is A in German)

A diminutive kinnui for the Hebrew name Chaya for a female in 19th century Poland. Other Yiddish kinnuyim for Chaya are: Chaikel, Chaitse and Chaitshe. A European name linked to these Yiddish names is Helena.

Charna (Tsarna)
A name of Slavic derivation meaning 'black'.

Refers to mercy


"It is not one name but two names Chasia. The first name is a modern Hebrew name and is written with: Cheit - Samech - Yud - He and means God is my shelter as Ilan Ganot mention
in his letter. But what he said about:

"According to Even-Shushan Hebrew dictionary, the meaning of the word "chasia" is literally finding shelter and hiding". The dictionary quotes from the book Yosef Te'hilot (5:12) by the CHIDA (R' Chaim Yossef David Azulay): "Ve'yismechoo kol chosei bach, afiloo chasia mooetet". (free translation: Happy will be all those who find shelter in you [meaning G-d], even a little shelter)."

"Is, according my Hebrew knowledge, not correct? This verse has nothing to do with names and the word Chasia in this verse is not a female name. I read it also in Even-Shushan and can not find out why Ilan Ganot thinks that it is a name."

"The second name Chasia is a Yiddish name and is written with: Cheit - Samech - Yud - ALEPH and as Michael Bernet mention in his letter from today it derived from the name Chana. Why Chana ? The way (answer) is simple : Chana - Chanke - Chantse - Chatse - Chase - Chasia."

"This letter I sent before to the JewishGen about this matter: The name Chasa is a nickname to Chana (Hanna) . Also the names Chasia (Chet-Samecg-Yud-Alef), Chasha and Hasha. In a lot of Gitin (divorce) books the authors agree that Chasa, Chasie, Hasha are nicknames to Chana. This error in the English spelling of names is a common mistake if we don't know what is the correct spelling of the name in Yiddish or Hebrew. Chasia with ALEPH is not Chasia with a HE and the explanation in this case is different." Ury Link Amsterdam Holland uryl@globalxs.nl

A diminutive form of the name Chasia (Khasia) from the Torah, referring to a type of fragrant wood burned during temple service. See also

Actually a nickname for the Biblical Hebrew name Yechezk'el or Ezekiel.

See also Chayim Khayka/Khayki which is the Yiddish name Khaykl see also the Belarus Given Names Data Base - enter the search name Cheikel and then specify the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex option.

A truncated form of "Elchanan".

Dreyzl, Dreiza, Dreizel - all forms of the Slavic name Drozha

The Hebrew name, transcribed into Latin characters as Danieyl, was very popular with the Jews of Germany during the 19th century. They adopted the German secular version 'Daniel' of the Hebrew name ' Danieyl' for use in social and other non-Jewish communications with other German citizens. The adoption was so widespread that the German rabbis who were responsible for setting how to write Jewish given names in a Get (Jewish divorce document) accepted the use of certain German secular names, among them Daniel, as a valid secular kinnuim for various Hebrew names, not only for the Hebrew name Danieyl.

Subsequently, these secular names which had been adopted in Germany, were also used by Jews in other European countries, like Poland, Hungary and Romania. The earliest recorded Daniel name in Germany, according to Alexander Beider's book is in 1235. In 1300 it was written in Latin as Daniel (Hungary); Daniel in Nurnberg, in German, in 1325 - and many others well before the 19th century. From a posting by Prof. G. L. Esterson.

"Hebrew for bear and Ber, Baer, is the kinnuy for Issachar whose totem is an ass, a very tough and useful animal in the ancient hills of Canaan, but hardly the sort of name you'd want your son to carry around in Europe, (so think quickly of another animal that has four legs, is tough, and isn't kosher and has a more noble reputation). Again, a variation on Ber has been used among Ashkenazim as a kinnuy for Issachar for almost a millennium, the "back formation" to Dov is relatively recent." From a posting by Michael Bernet

A Yiddish version of Therese, or Schprintze of Esperance

The Hebrew for "My God" and is used frequently as part of several compound names including: Eliyahu, Eliezer and Elimelech. Actually these are nicknames. The name Eli is a name itself. It is spelled in Hebrew: ayin - lamed - yud. Eli was the high priest during the time of the prophet Shmuel. His two sons were killed by the Philistines. He died upon hearing the news that the Philistines had captured the Holy Ark.

A Hebrew name that means "My God is help". It first appear in Genesis 15: "And Abram said, Lord God, what will you give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?"

A name traditionally associated with German or Slavic origin. Elka, the name of many Russians, is another derivation. The Hebrew could be another variation like Eli or Eliana. The literal translation of Elka could be "of or belonging to El (God)" Elka. The feminine versions of Eliahu, Elijah the prophet.

In some parts of Europe, Emanuel was coupled with the Hebrew name Menachem and its kinnuy Mendel. Mendel (Mentel, Mennle, Manny) Hebrew for 'consoler'. Not every Menachem is a Mendel. The Menachem-Mendel combination was so popular that it was treated virtually as one name. There are two names similar to Menachem- Nachum and Nachman - that also mean 'consoler' - in Yiddish, both of these may be pronounced as Noh-Chem.

Diminutive of the Yiddish name Fayvish. There are a number of linked Yiddish names including Faya and Faybesh.

Feygeleh (Feyga, Fiegele , 'Feygeleh')
Commonly assumed to be derived from name for bird (Vogel in German). In fact, however, Feygeleh is derived from an older German version of Violet. From Kaganoff's "Dictionary of Jewish Names and Their History", this is his definition: "The name Viola, which in French and Italian meant "violet" had in German the forms Veil, Veigelein, and was pronounced Feil, Feigelein. Among Polish Jews the name form was misinterpreted in two ways -- it was either understood as Feigel (feygl, "bird" in Yiddish) a translation of the Hebrew Tzipporah, or as a diminutive of Feige (fayg, "fig" in Yiddish)".

Uri, Shraga and Phoebus (of which Feivish and Feivel are yiddishized corruptions) all mean basically 'bright', 'shining', 'light'.

"Fayvush or Faivel are the kinnuim of Shraga. Fayvush is an ancient Jewish name whose origin was the Latin vivus (living, alive), a loan translation (calque) from Hebrew chaim (life). Later the name Fayvush was erroneously considered to be a derivation from Phoebus, god of the sun--consequently Fayvish became the kinnui not only for the Biblical Hebrew name Uri (light) but for the Aramaic name Shraga (candle) in the Rabbinic period. Folk legends along with true and false etymologies gave rise to these interwoven associations between Hebrew name and kinnui." From a posting by Sonia Kovitz

"More precisely, Feivel is a diminutive of Feibush, which is a Yiddish corruption of Phoebus (NOT PhoebE -- which is a female name; Phoebe is one name for the Goddess of the Moon, whereas Phoebus is a poetic name for the Sun. Both names have roughly the same meaning, namely "bright one" or "shining one" Thus Phoebus is a good translation of the Hebrew name URI (from OR, meaning "light"). The name Uri occurs in the Torah in the name of Bealel ben Uri, who was appointed by God to take charge of creating the artifacts for the tabernacle in the wilderness (Exodus 31:1ff). From a posting by Judith Romney Wegner

Fulya (Fulia, Fule)
This given name appears in the Poland Given Names Data Base and is considered a rather rare name.

The Polish Yiddish variation of this Jewish name is Gedalje

A girl's name meaning "Yellow"

A real name and it has nothing to do with names like Geniza or Genesis. The name is derived from the very old Jewish -German name Genandel and the spelling in Yiddish is: Gimel - Nun - Ayin - Sin - Aleph. In another variant on this name I find the spelling with Samech instead of the Sin. The name Genesia (Gimel - Nun - Ayin - Samech - Aleph ) is also a Variant on the name Genandel.

Common today, but uncommon in the 19th century. In the 19th century Hadasso was more commonly called Hodes or Hudes. In that form it was not uncommon.
It was also the Hebrew name of Queen Esther, the biblical hero

The two above names Sima and Hadassah where sometimes combined with each other into the Yiddish "double" name Shim-Ode (also written Shimode) and versions like Shim-Oda, Shim-Uda and Shim-Ude. Especially the latter half of this name, Oda/Ode/Uda/Ude, was short Yiddish version of Hadassah that only seems to have been used in the area around Vitebsk. I have a feeling that most women with this name were somehow related and all descended from the same ancestor!" From a posting by Perets Mett

In Yiddish, it means Pike (like in fish) according to "Langenscheidt" German-English dictionary.

Hersch (also Herschel, Hertz, Hertzel)
Defined as a deer. In Hebrew the name representing deer is Zvi, Tsvi or Tsui and the Biblical name is Naphthali. The English name would be Harris, Harry or Harold.

A diminutive for Herschel.

A kinui for the Hebrew name Tsvi Gershon is derived from the same name Girsh/Hirsh. The Hebrew word GER, means proselyte, joined to the religion and since such step, makes him a stranger within his new community, than Ger means also stranger. The first time that the name Gershon appears in the Bible, in Genesis Chapter 46 : 11. "And the sons of Levi, Gershon, Kohath, and Merari." It means 'A stranger lived there'. Rishon in Hebrew, means first. It seems like Gershon is the combination of the two words.

Another opinion by Judith Romney Wegner states "The answer is that Gershon is totally unconnected with Hirsch/Girsch. It is an original biblical Hebrew name, not a relatively modern Yiddish one!" "Gersh occurs only because G is the letter used by Russian for the H sound in the German word Hirsch."

And still another opinion presented by David Gershon Leventhal stated "Nat Reiss' analysis of Gersh being the russian interpretation of the Germanic Hersch (or Hirsch) is correct.  However, keep in mind that Gersh can be a shorter form of Gershon, as Hirsh is a shorter form of Herschel.

Gershon appears in Exodus 2:22 as the firstborn of Moses The name Gershon appears at Exodus 6:16 as the firstborn of Levi (who was the third son of Jacob and Leah).

Defined as doe. It is the same in middle high German, and in modern German is Hindin. It is related to the somewhat archaic English word "hind".

Defined as heart

Hirts / Herts
An older German / Yiddish form of the newer Hirsch / Hersh. The German Herz is cognate with the English hart, which became obsolete except in Britain, where it means a mature male red deer. The obsolescence may have been constrained by the phonetic confusion with the word for that vital organ called heart in English and Herz in German. From a posting by Norman H. Carp-Gordon

Hodesh (Chodesh)
Means 'month'. Kodesh, with a Hebrew letter kuf, is related to the word for Holiness. The female name Hodes or Hodas is a derivative of the Hebrew name Hadassah.

Hoshea (Ozias, Oshea)
The Prophet's name in the Bible. Sometimes used in place of Yehoshua (which is Joshua). Both Hoshea and Yehoshua can be abbreviated in Yiddish as "Shea" - but the form "Ozias" appears more like a way of writing "Hoshea".

Spelled with an aleph after the heh

An abbreviation of Idalia. A very common Jewish name in past Eastern Europe. Idalia (Ida) a feminine version of Judah (Yudl, Yiddele)

Ignac (Ignacz, Ignacio)
The Hungarian rendering of the Latin name Ignatuis, derived from an old Roman family called EGNATIUS. It certainly was a very common name among Hungarian Jews, mainly in the 19th century. In English there is the Ignace form but used very rarely. Most of Latin languages has an equivalent, because of the famous Saint Santo Ignacio de Loyola.

The Hebrew name of the flower asphodel.

Used until several centuries ago in Ukraine, derived from the Yiddish name Hirsha

Ita (not Eta), corresponds to Esther in Hebrew. It was a commonly used name in Eastern Europe

In English it could be Ida or Etta or Edith or Sally.

Jenta - (Jetta, Jette, Yetta, Yenta, Yente, Jente, Ita, Yitta, Yetti, etc.)
Some consider Yetta as a nickname for Yocheved, while others suggest the full name as a contraction of Yehydith (Judith) or even as a contraction of Esther. It could also be considered a Yiddish version of Janet.

Same as the Hebrew name Yirmiyahu and in the US it would be Jeremy. Jerome was a Christian bible scholar who helped create the Latin Vulgate. The name is Greek for "Holy Name" - the closest popular Hebrew name would be "Shem Tov".

Most people named John are not Jewish - the given names of 'John' being associated with two notable figures in early Christianity. That is what Christians want you to believe. The name is actually a contraction of Yochanan.

John ben Levi of Giscala (gush Chalav) was the leader of the revolt of the Jews against the Romans (66070 CE), Yochanan heSandlar a very important rabbi of the Mishnaic period, and more recently Yochanan Twersky, Hebrew author and member of the famous Twersky rabbinical family. From a posting by Michael Bernet

Associated with Yairsha (or Yerzha; zh as in treasure). Jonathan is a Biblical name from the Book of Samuel. He was the son of the first king, Saul. The name means G-d has given.

Josef / Yossef, Yosef / Joseph,
Means: [he] will add. Yoshe is a nickname. However, it is simply a diminutive for Yosef, and does not form a legal Hebrew double name, one required for being called to an Aliyah, or to be used in a Jewish contract. The Yiddish name Yoshe does not, however, form such a legal Hebrew double name with Yehoshua.

The source for this are the Hilchot Gitin (rabbi's guides for writing Jewish contracts), such as Arukh HaShulkhan, or the Beit Shmuel. On the other hand, the diminutive Yiddish name Yoshke does form a legal Hebrew double name with Yosef. So the upshot is that Yoshe is a diminutive of Yosef, but not one that is required to be sued in Jewish contracts. The use of the name Yoshe Ber for HaRav Solveitchik z"i, was an endearing means used by those that loved and respected this great man to express their feelings toward him. From a posting by Prof. G. L. Esterson


The boy's name Julius \j(u)-lius\ is of Greek origin, and its meaning is "Jove's child". Biblical: Julius, Julio is the Spanish form

Karen as a Hebrew name would be transliterated as Keren and means, 'horn'. It has only been in use as a girl's name in modern times, because it sounds so much like the English name, Karen. Thus, it is unlikely to have been the name of a Holocaust Survivor, unless it was this person's non-Hebrew name.

The famous statue of Moses by Michelangelo has horns, because the artist misunderstood the biblical reference, 'Keren Or', 'horns of light'. This is how the unfortunate myth of Jews having horns got started.

A small correction: It has been in use as a girl's name in the bible: Keren Hapuch [horn of the eye shadow], Ayub's daughter. In ancient time, horns of all kind of small cattle and others were used as containers. A king would have been anointed by a priest pouring olive oil on his head from a horn; we know of cornucopia...and there were using horns for names too... Udi Cain, chaikin@netvision.net.il Jerusalem

A Slavic name derived from Katharine according to Beider's "Personal Names".

This name was more commonly written and pronounced "Koyfman/Kaufman" and was a fairly common name and kinui used in Lithuania during the 18th and 19th centuries. It was used as a Yiddish version of the Hebrew name Yaakov. It was also a kinui for two other Hebrew names: Meshulam and Yekutiel.

A derivation of the name Jakob, thus Jakob is the Hebrew equivalent. It appears as both a given/first name and as a surname/family name. Anyone who bears this name is called to the Torah as Yaakov.

Kopel might be linked to the second syllable of the German Jakob from whence we hear the large number of Koppels, Koppelman and variations. Not just "might," it is so linked. Kopel and its variants are common kinnuyim for Ya`akov, Jakob in German. The B and P are sounded confusingly alike in Southern Germany, and this passed over into Yiddish. So the genesis is Jakob - Jakop -Jakopel -Kopel.

Kaufmann, as a first name, is also a frequent kinnuy for Ya`akov. The word is actually German for "buying person"--i.e. merchant, and as a family name often reflects the occupation, but as a first name, Ya`akov becomes Jakofman->Kofman->Kaufmann. Kaufmann is also often a kinnuy for Meshullam. How? In Hebrew it means "paid"--and who, in the end gets paid--the Kaufmann-trader, of course. Posted by Michael Bernet

A Jewish name that is similar to another Yiddish name Kreyne. However, although some link these two names together, the rabbis who wrote the Hilchot Gitin (Jewish divorce law) books considered them as separate, unrelated names (except in a limited sense. The name Kreyne is commonly said to derive from the Yiddish word "krone", meaning "crown".

Kreyndl was a root given name in 19th century Europe, meaning that it was not linked formally to any Hebrew name, but was used as a stand-alone name for Jewish women. Many Jewish women were not given Hebrew names at all, since they had no practical need for them as did men (for an aliya in shul, for example). Of course, as for men, women could have multiple Yiddish and/or Hebrew names which came from different ancestors after whom they were named.

Kreyndl forms a Jewish legal double name with several of its diminutives: Kreyntse, Kreyntshe, and Kreyntsye. It also had several diminutives with which it did NOT form legal double names: Kreyndlkhen and Kreynlin. From a posting by Prof. G. L. Esterson on July 28,2002

A Jewish Legal name is one that must be used in a Get (Jewish divorce contract) in order to identify a woman properly, and the rabbi who writes the Get is the one who determines what is the proper legal name for both the man and the woman involved in the divorce

Kuna / Kune
A female name derived from the German name Kunigunde

An affectionate diminutive of the name Leyb

A Yiddish name for the Hebrew Arye (others: Leon, Leib, Loeb, Lion, Lew, Lev) all are variant spellings of the German/Yiddish word Loewe meaning Lion. The connection between the lion and Yehuda is that the lion is the symbol of the tribe of Judah.

The reason the lion became the symbol for Judah is a verse in the Torah (Gen:49:9) which is part of the blessing Jacob gives his sons on his death bed. Concerning his fourth son Judah, Gen 49:9 says <gur aryeh Yehuda> meaning 'Judah is a lion's cub'. Judah ends up being the most important of Jacob's sons because the Davidic dynasty (Beth-David) was descended from Judah according to the biblical genealogy. (From the viewpoint of modern scholarship, the biblical blessing was written with hindsight centuries, during the Davidic dynasty.) From a posting by Judith Romney Wegner

A nickname (Kinnui) to Eliezer and Elazar

A very old Ashkenazic (German-Jewish) given name dating back to at least the 14th century. It is a variant of Liebman and means 'beloved/dear man'. Source: "Ashkenazic Jews: Their History and their Names" by Alexander Beider. Additional information on the given name Lipman can be found in the JewishGen Digest of as submitted by Uri Link

Lipman Pike was the first professional Jewish baseball player in America. His full name was Lipman Emanuel Pike and was one of two baseball playing brother beginning his professional career in 1866.

Also Lipman or Liebman is a common kinui for the Hebrew name Yom Tov (e.g. the 16-17th century author of the commentary "Tosfot Yom Tov, whose full name was Yom Tov Lipman Heller Halevy). According to Kaganoff, the name is also associated with the Biblical name Eliezer, via the name Gottlieb" From a posting by Michael Bernet

Short for Charlotte, a German name derived from Charles. Another variant is Lieselotte, also abbreviated to Lotte, Lottie, etc. Spanish is Carlotta, and it is a widely used feminine given name in France, England and other European countries.

Madeleine, Magdalena
Madeleine is simply the French version of Magdalene, which in turn is of the name of the well known NT character, Mary Magdalene. The connection between Miriam and Magdale is purely fortuitous and consists only of the fact that 'Maria Magdale' is the NT Greek version of this woman's original Hebrew name, which was Miriam of Migdal (Migdal being the name of a place in ancient Israel). Of course, there's no linguistic connection between Miriam and Madeleine, since one is a woman's name and the other a place name. This information was posted by Judith Romney Wegner on JewishGen forum.

The name of the father of one of the most celebrated figures in Jewish history, the RAMBAM of Cordova.

Russian word meaning raspberries, raspberry bush, raspberry juice and as an expression meaning "piece of cake". The root word also appears in the Russian word for robin (redbreast) and in the Russian word for a vodka made from raspberries.

A Hellenized form of the Hebrew name Miriam, was one that was generally avoided among Ashkenazi Jews, who associated it with religious and social persecutors. Even among assimilated Jews, its was rarely used in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

A kinui for Mordechai. In some places it became Morkel.

Technically is originally a Jewish name -- it is an Anglicization of the Greek Maria, which appears in the New Testament as the name of Jesus' mother --- Maria itself being a graecization of the Hebrew name Miriam (just as Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua).

The name "Musha", a female version of Moshe (Moses), may have been Anglicized into "Marsha.

Menachem or "consoler"
Mannes is a kinui for Menachem. Mendel appears to be derived from Mannes and the two may be related to Emanuel, itself of Hebrew origin, but often substituted for Menachem in civil use.

A Yiddish name linked to the Hebrew name Mordekhay

A thrush (bird) known as Amsel in German. Amsel/Anshel is a popular kinnuyim for the Hebrew name Asher.

(in Jewish Molca or Molka)

Mirl is a diminutive of Miriam, like the Yiddish film "Mirele Efros."

A name that could have been used for either a male or female in 19th century Belarus. Here is a breakdown of the two main possibilities: Miryam and Moshe, both Hebrew names having numerous linked Yiddish and secular names."

"You can view some of the variants of the names Miryam and Moshe in the Belarus Given Names Data Base on JewishGen, at

by searching for the two names as I have written them above, using Global Text Search. You might also want to try searching more generally, by using the first syllable only in the search, that is, search for "Mish*", leaving out the quotes. The asterisk * means " any combination of letters".

It may be worthwhile for you to do further verification searching in the archives for the new name Miszka, but keeping in mind some of the other names which you can harvest from the Given Names Data Base. Posted by Professor G. L. Esterson, Ra'anana, Israel

"ka is generally the Russian female diminutive form, while -ko is male. Mishka would be a female name - Mishko might be a diminutive for Moses." From a posting by Sally Bruckheimer.

A man with this name was very likely to use this name only when being called to an aliya to the Torah when in shul, in a formal Jewish contract (Ketubah or get), and in very few other circumstances. From a posting by Prof. G. L. Esterson

It is a Hebrew name (actually from a Persian god) and its Yiddish forms include: Motke, Mordke, Motte, Mottek, Mork, Morkl (and variant spellings). The family names Mark and Marx often indicate a progenitor named Mordechai.

Hebrew for teacher is Moreh and the title Moreynu means 'our teacher.'

In Egyptian, Moshe means both "a son" and/or "a beloved son". Mase or Mashe means to give birth. Others see the word as related to the Hebraic mush, and of Semitic origin introduced to the Egyptian language by the Semitic Hyksos. The first mention of Moshe is in Shemot chapter 2 , versicle 2-10. You can read the passage in versicle 10:

"When the child matured [his mother] brought him to Pharaoh's daughter. She adopted him as her own son, and named him Moses (Moshe). 'I bore (mashe) him from the water,' she said.

Thus, his naming is prefaced by a phrase that is literally translated, 'he became to her as a son' (cf. Ibn Ezra; Hadar Zekenim). Significantly, the suffix moshe is found (and exclusively so) in the names of many Pharaohs of the 18th Dynasty, such as Ka-moshe ('son of [Ra's] majesty'), Ra-amses (son of Ra), Ach-moshe (Ahmose; 'son of the moon,' or 'the moon is born') and Toth-moshe (Tutmosis; 'son of Toth').

According to other ancient sources, the name Moses comes from the Egyptian mo (water) and uses (drawn from) (Josephus, Antiquities 2:9:6, Contra Apion 1:31; Philo De Vita Moses 2:17; Malbim). I know some sources state that Moses' Egyptian name was Monius (Ibn Ezra; cf. Abarbanel; Josephus, Contra Apion 1:26, 28). Other ancient sources claim that Moses' name was preserved among the Gentiles as the legendary Musaeus, teacher of Orpheus, from whom the Muses obtained their name (Artapanus, in Eusebius, Preparatio Evangelica 9:27). From a posting by Dr. Shimon Barak ISRAEL

Although not a translation, the name "Musha", a female version of Moshe (Moses)

Linked to the Hebrew name Moshe

Nachum and Nechama
Essentially the masculine and feminine forms of the same name. Both are segula names, names that can be used to ward off evil, sometimes added to other names, but can also be used by themselves out of preference, rather than their evil-warding properties.

Naphthali, Zvi, Hirsch
Essentially variants on the same name.
Hertz, NOT to the common kinnui Hirsh. This seems to be based on a fallacy. In the 19th and 20th century, Herts was the common kinnui for Naftoli

(a prophet who warned King David re Batsheva) means "to give."

Means "consolation". The name Nechama would generally be given to a baby girl after the death of a loved one. The male form is Menachem or "consoler".

One of many names derived from the Hebrew Nechama
(consolation) equivalent to the male Menachem (often rendered Mendel).

The Ashkenazi pronunciation is Noo-Son-El and this is sometimes abridged to nicknames like Sooni, Nissan, Neissn and other names in which the "S" is central and essential.

Niuroczka (NYU ROH CHKAH)
A diminutive form of Niura.

Noar Family

Notko or Nisel
Probably an endearment of Note, which is a different name than Nata. Nisel is probably a shortened form of Nissen.

Orel (Orelis)
In Lithuania) is a form of Aharon

Osias, Sheya and Yeshayoh
The same names for Yeshayahu

Osnia (Osnea)
From the Hebrew name Osnat and this name from Osna or Osnea ("Get mesudar", Elasar Mintz page 309).

Ovsey (Owsey, Osej)
A Russian name. It was quite popular among Jews in Lithuania particularly, and was taken as a secular name by people named Yehoshua

Owsey (Ovsey, Owsej)
A reflection of the humiliating practice of the Russian government and the Orthodox Church to deprive Jews from their basic heritage and even use traditional Jewish names.

Biblical names that have been adopted by the Russian Orthodox Church for the pantheon of their own saints, have been forbidden to be used by the Jewish people. A bastardized versions of the proud names of our forefathers have been forced to used. Thus Moses became known as Movsha and Joseph as Owsey. Alexander Sharon in a posting.

A classical Greek name associated with the sea.

Itself a Yiddish name meaning Pearl. The equivalent Hebrew name is Peninah, but that was not in regular use among Ashkenazi Jews until relatively recently.

This is listed at Kevin Brook's Khazars' web site as a Khazarian given name.


A Hebrew word (Petter) meaning 'First Born' and though it has a Christian association, it is actually another name for Bechor (also first born in Hebrew) or the female: Bechorah.

An affectionate form of Polina, a female given name analogous to Pauline. Polina derives from Apollon (Apollo)

Raphael (Rafael, Refel)
A Hebrew name of an archangel and means "God Heals (me)"

Possibly a familial pronunciation of a variety of first names, derived from Rosa, Rachel, Ruhamma, Raitzel or Reichel, which all tended to be intermixed in usage and derivation.

The diminutive form of Roman.

The English form of Rosa which is Latin. Rozina, Razina is the Hebraic form. Roza or Ruzhena or Rozaliya, Ruzaliya is the equivalent in Ukrainian language.

The Russian equivalent is Roza or Rozaliya. Shoshannah is a six sided desert bloom that is often mistaken for a rose. This (believe it or not) is important in name conversion because while there women who moved to Israel named Rose who became Shoshannah, many chose the more correct name form for Rose and became "Vered." When searching in Israel, it is a good idea to consider both possibilities. Both are common Israel names, but Vered would be the name taken by those who were sensitive to retaining a more exact connection to "Rose." From a posting by Rafi Guber.

Used in America as an actual name -- was originally a nickname (spelled "Rudi" in some languages) for the common central- European name Rudolf/Rudolph. The closest-sounding Hebrew name for which a boy might be given Rudolph/Rudy as a sound-equivalent is the biblical name Reuven (which appears as "Reuben" in English bible translations; also found as Ruben/Ruven/Rubin in other European languages). The western European name Rudolf comes from two ancient German words meaning "famous wolf." So (especially in 19th-century Germany, where many Jews acquired secular education following the Enlightenment) a parent could have selected Rudolf as an "equivalent" for the common Hebrew name Ze'ev. From a posting by Judith Romney Wegner

Used by many European immigrants to the US, when their original Hebrew name in Europe was Shimon or Shmueyl. This is a list of names (not all Hebrew/Yiddish names had the same frequency of occurrence - some were more popular than others, Shmueyl leading the list -- Nesaneyl, Saadya, Shabsay, Shalom, Shaul, Shaye, Shimon, Shimshon, Shlomo, Shmarya, Shmaryahu, Shmueyl, Shneyur, Simcha, Sinai, Yehoshua, Yeshaya, Yisraeyl, Zekharya, Ziskind, Zushe, Zusman. It has been observed that many Hebrew/Yiddish names either beginning with the Hebrew equivalent of the English letter "s" or something sounding like "s" (e.g.., "sh" or "z") led naturally to the English names Samuel or Sam. It was also pointed out that other European names which had a popular European nickname beginning with an "s" or "sh" sound, like Srol or Shaye, could also change into Sam or Samuel in the US.

In English, it was often translated to Jenny.

From Selde and/or Salida, a woman's name which means "good fortune" or "blessing." In Yiddish, the name is Zelda. Also appears as Seldes, Selden, Sedlis. Salida is from the Old German which means "happiness" and is a feminine variation. In Hebrew, the name Asher means "happy".

A translation of "Asher" ("happy" or "blessed"). Also appears as Seligman, Seligmann, Zelig, Zelik, Selik, and many other variations substituting "z" for "s" and "k" for "g".

Of Greek origin and is a fairly common name in Europe and found quite frequently among Jews.

Same as Alexander - in Hungary they use the name Sandor

An acronym for either "shaliah bet din" or "Shamash bet din" both representing a bailiff type person in a rabbinic court.

Shaia (Shai, Yishai, Yeshayahu, Yakov)
A shortened version of Yeshayahu. The given name Shai is found in many vital records from north-Eastern Poland. It occurs over 160 times in the birth records in Lomza from 1827 to 1886. It was used both in the Polish period 1827-1867 and the Russian period 1868-1886. It is usually spelled SZAIA or SZAJA.

The name means 'sharp' in Yiddish and is a translation of the
Hebrew 'harif', a term used to describe a brilliant Talmudic student.

An acronym for 'shalom rav leohave toretekha' (great is the peace for those who love your Torah).

Derived from the Hebrew Yeshayahu (Isaiah) or Yehoshua
(Joshua) or Hoshe'ah (Hosea)

A descendent of Sheva which is a shortened form of Bat Sheva (Batsheba)

A descendent of Shifra (a Biblical name.

Shoshannah (Shoshanna, Szaszana {Polish})
Of Hebrew origin and is an equivalent (and the direct translation) of the name Rose (Roza, Ro'zia). It means lily. Suzanne is known in Polish as Zuzana (diminutive: Zuza, Zuz'ka). See also Rose.

Means candle or lamp, light or fire in eastern Aramaic. It comes from the Greek Phoebe - god of fire

'Shtul' is yiddish for 'steel' and describes the inner strength and faith of the Jewish person.

Sima (Simcha)
A Hebrew name meaning Joy.

Means a son or descendent of Shimon (Simon).

Means 'descended from Slawa (a Polish name that means 'glory') Also appears as Slovin, Slava, Slova, Sluva, Sliva.

A name applied by the naming commission to a very talkative
person as the name means in Russian, 'magpie'.

A variation of Sarah, affectionately called 'Sorke' in Yiddish. Also appears as Sirkes, Sirkin.

Derived from the Spanish name Esperanza, which means hope.

Probably derived from Esteres, which would be a designation for someone whose mother was named Esther, just as Rifkin is a child of Rebecca.

Means 'star' in German The Stern family lived in Heppenheim an der Bergstrafe, Hesse-Darmstadt

If you are asked for a password, just keep on clicking 'Cancel' Also see Alice Josephs page

A kinui for Yoel, Eliezer, Meshullam, Emanuel or Shneur.

A kinui for Yoel, Eliezer, Meshullam, Emanuel or Ezriel.

A Polish spelling of the German (and possibly Yiddish) for 'butterfly'.

A diminutive of the Polish name Tadeusz. This Polish name was accepted by the rabbis to be written in a Get (Jewish divorce document), along with whatever other Legal Hebrew name a Polish Jewish man may have had. There are about 500 such German/Polish names that were accepted for such use in Germany, Poland and Hungary during the 19th century. This was an outgrowth of the Enlightenment and the absorption of German Jews into the secular culture of Germany, followed by the spread of these names to other countries. In the case of Tadeusz, the name was written in Hebrew characters as if it were a Yiddish name, and its pronunciation would have been (in Latin characters) Tadeush. From a posting by Prof. G. L. Esterson, Ra'anana, Israel

Mostly a secular name-used by Russian women. name Tania (Tanya) originates from name Tatiana (Tatyana). Refer to the heroine name of A. Pushkin romantic poem, and based on this poem, classical Russian repertoire opera "Eugene Onegin".

Tevel (Tevya, Tevka, Tuvia {Hebrew)-
A Yiddish name linked to the Hebrew name David and my Hebrew name Tuvia ben Chaim. I was named after my maternal grandfather, Tuvia Soloski who died in 1900 and was one of the first to be buried in the Duluth, Minnesota Jewish Cemetery.

Thanks mom!

A Jewish name of the Hellenic era and is found in the Talmud. It is a "Hebraicized" Teodoros, which is a Greek translation of the Hebrew Nataniel (Eng. Nathaniel) meaning "gift of God".

Hebrew for bird. The wife of Moses was named Tzipporah, but
many of today's Tzipporahs are named after a relative named 'Feygeleh' which is commonly assumed to be derived from name for bird (Vogel in German). In fact, however, Feygeleh is derived from an older German version of Violet.

God is my strength

Polish Witka, a short and friendly version of Wiktoria (Victoria)

Wolf or Wolff (Vulf, Velvel)
Acommon first name among Ashkenazi Jews. Originally, it was a kinnuy for the Hebrew name Benjamin (Jacob blesses his son in the last chapter of Genesis and refers to him as a wolf; Wolf/Wolff is German for wolf). The common Yiddish form was Velvel. William, Wilhelm, Wolfgang, etc. are common variations in English, German, etc. More recently, you may find Wallace, Wilbert, Warren, Werner, etc., literally any name beginning with  a 'W'.

Around 1800, it became common to give 'back-formations' into Hebrew of German/Yiddish kinnuyim, especially those associated with animals. A boy named Wolf would thus be given the (additional) Hebrew name, Ze'ev, which is Hebrew for Wolf. Benjamin-Ze'ev is today a common combination, with or without the German/Yiddish Wolf or the diminutive Velvel. Wolf(f), Wolfson, Wolvovitz, Wolfheim, Wolfberg, etc. are family names usually after an ancestor with the first name Wolf.

Yair - (actually Yo-ir)
A widely used Hebrew name in Israel today, but is of Biblical origin and means "he will light", "he will shine" etc and is equivalent to Meir.

A popular diminutive for Ya'akov/Jacob. The most common English equivalent would be Jacob, Jack, Jake or James. Yankel (Yankiel, Jankiel) became a first name in Russian Empire This is associated with the Russian administration rules which did not allow Jewish people to use Christians saints name. Thus Yakov (Jakub) has been transformed to Yankiel, Moses (Moisiey) to Movsha, Joseph (Iosif, Jozef) to Osip, Isaac (Isaak) to Itsik, Israel to Srul, Salomon to Shloyme (Szlojme). Forbidden also were ancient names David, Jonathan, Mattityahu (Matvy) etc.

A form of Yaakov

Amadeus or Amede, French Amedee, Amadis; = Godolewa or Godelewa feminine low German name; Gottlieb masculine German name.

Yehuda (Judah)
The progenitor of the Tribe of Judah, whose symbol is the lion - the "lion of Judah".

A biblical name with a diminutive form Khatzkel.

In Ivrit means dove and can be a name in itself (e.g. Jonah in the bible?) The prophet's name Jonah probably does not originate from the word for dove; the first syllable is very common among Hebrew names and refers to God (Jonathan, Jochanan, Joram, Joel, Yoilish, etc.); in this case what the second syllable stood for has been lost.

The correct Hebrew for a male dove is Yon; Yonah is the feminine form. Today's usage of Yonah as a feminine name is based on folk etymology, as a Hebrew translation of the Yiddish 'Teybeh' (and variants). However, Teybeh is not derived from a dove (Taube in German), but from the Hebrew name 'Tovah', meaning 'good one'. Attributed to Michael Bernet JewishGen Discussion Group

Yonatan - Natan, Notel, Nosel, Nisel, Nusan.
Yonatan was King Saul's son and David's good friend and means "God's gift.

A kinnui for Yehoshua (Joshua) or Yeshaya (Isaiah) or Yoshiahu (Josiah). Yoshe can also be the equivalent to Yosef or Joseph.

Aa diminutive form of Yuri, usually applied to a boy or a very dear friend

Yuriy (Russian and Ukrainian) and Jerzy
Originated from an old Czech form of the name - Juri (Jiri in the modern form. Georgios (from georgos which means farmer in Greek)

Afemale derivative of Yehuda.

Zacharya and Zachary
A Biblical name; in English Biblical tradition, it would be Zacarias. The name was borne by a biblical prophet and also by the father of John the Baptist.

Means gold as does Zlata More "refined" and "rarer" is paz,
meaning "fine gold" for which the feminine would be Pazit.

Zalaman and Solomin
Both derived from the Hebrew Shlomoh (Solomon)

Zalmen (Zalman)
The Yiddish 'form' of the name Shlomo, often appearing as a double name "Shlomo Zalmen".

Zalman is derived from Shlomo = Solomon (the king) = Salaman = Zalman. According to Beider, the Latin form of Salamanus for a Jewish name dates back to Worms (Germany) ca 1090, and Zalman (with the initial Zayin) was first recorded in Hebrew in South Germany, as early as 1298.

In many communities Zalman remained simply a kinnuy associated with Shlomo, i.e. Shlomo-Zalman, but in Eastern Europe especially, it took on an independent existence, and was often coupled with the name Shne'or.* Zalman has frequently attained, like many other kinnuyim, the status of a shem kadosh, equivalent to a true Hebrew name.

Shneur - Zalman of Lyady was the founder of Chabad (Lubavitch) Hassidism, and that name was borne by a number of his successors, including the last Rebbe - and many of his followers and admirers. Shneor itself is a kinnuy and derives from the Sephardi Senior which is from the Hebrew Bachor (first born, a common first name among Sephardim).

And Israel's third president, originally known as Shneur-Zalman Rubashov took the Hebrew acronym of this name, SHaZaR as his "Israelized" surname.

Zaydl or Zeydl
An amuletic name, that is a name for good luck. It is similar to the feminine name Bobel or Bubele. A boy who is born after the death of siblings might be called Zaydl so that he would grow up to be a grandfather. It is also a surname. From a posting by Ida Schwarcz

Derives from the German / Yiddish Zis = sweet

Zosia (Zos'ka)
The diminutive from Zofia (Sophie)

Now part of the Yiddish language and used as a term of
endearment to a child or young person. Sometimes because we "assume" that a young person is naturally mischievous or, when a child is actually misbehaving but not badly and certainly not a brat. Just naughty enough to bring a smile to a parent or grandparent. I often call my younger granddaughter a Zhulik, with a broad smile and a lot of love and pride in the saying. From a posting by Susana Leistner Bloch Winnipeg, Canada


Israeli Family Names


Maternal Surnames

"Maternal surnames constitute a frustrating area for research. Finding a listing for the first time gives us information and we take it as a fact for we are given no specific reason to disagree. In the larger context, I think that is just a natural process. We nevertheless take it - or at least should take it - with the potential that its truth may be challenged at some point in the future. And then one finally starts finding the multiple records that are supposed to list the same name, and they don't. How to "choose" which is the right one?

Death records contain the most potential for flaws. First, the information is given, obviously, by a third person, who could make mistakes since he/she is without the knowledge of the decedent. This happens most notably with children being the informants. Secondly, the information is given in a state of fresh grievance, which can hinder clear and accurate thinking. Birth and marriage records and social security applications lack these particular problems, and although they are never full proof, they warrant better validity." Such is the frustration of maiden names. From a posting by Howie Zakai

RSL is the RootsWeb Surname List. With this tool, you enter the surname you are researching. This site allows you to use Soundex and to specify a location. Once finished, this site will return instances when the surname of interest is identified, with the date, area (including migration movements) and a link to the person who sent in the information

"Jewish Family Names and Their Origins: An Etymological Dictionary"
Authored by Heinrich W. & Eva H. Guggenheimer - Jewish Family Names and Their Origins:...

"Jewish Surnames in Prague: (15th-18th Centuries)"
Authored by Alexander Beider

Buy from Amazon.com Buy from Amazon.comBuy from Amazon.com Buy from Amazon.com Russian middle names ending in '-ovitch' (men) or '-ovna' (women) are standard usage in Russia, right up to the present, and refer to the name of the person's father.



Consolidated Jewish Surname Index

A database of databases. Includes an index to 31 different sources of information (representing more than 2 million records for approximately 370,000 unique surnames) about (mostly) Jewish surnames. Also includes the Jewish Records Indexing - Poland; All-Lithuania Database; All-Belarus Database; All-Latvia Database and JewishGen Family Finder is available at

Surname Web's Home Page Construction Kit

Tools and tutorials on building your own genealogy web page

Turkish Jewish Surnames


White Pages

Find information about a person by filling in the blanks below



Surname Finder


Try a membership at Ancestry.com Register to win the Ultimate Family History Journey at Ancestry.com!



Abarbanel (Abravanel)
A famous name among Spanish Sephardim.

Abrams - Shore - Singer Family


Sephardic from Izmir, Turkey. Ab is Arabic for "father"; u is a grammatical suffix; as is a proper name. As was the name of the Arab warlord who invaded Egypt in the eighth century, turning it into a Arab and Muslim society.

A common Jewish name from Iran, although it can be found among non-Jews in the Middle East, as well. It comes from the name Adam.

Odem is a red stone and the Hebrew word for lipstick and adom in Hebrew means red

A German name meaning monkey weed

Almost exclusively associated with Cohanim.

Almost exclusively associated with Cohanim.


A website devoted to all bearers of the name AUFRICHTIG, and dedicated to the memories of the many family members who lost their lives in the Shoah. The webmaster has recently expanded the section

which is devoted to a series of records from *BohMor* and neighbouring territories."

Behm (Beham, Begam)
According to Dr. Arieh Beham
, who was a Zionist and the husband of Judith Beham, the only child and daughter of the Zionist Gregor Zvi Belkowsky, his relative, Dan, states that it is a 'bizarre' name in Hebrew "Bet, Ayin, Heh, Mem" and on one in Israel, or elsewhere, knew how to pronounce it. His family assumes that it was an acronym for Ba'al Ha' Mechabar". In Russia, the name was Begam. Alexander Beider, a noted author, states that the name derives from the Hebrew 'behami' meaning "rude or uncouth".

Ben Katz
Katz' is an acronym for 'Cohen Tzedek" and indicates that the bearer is descended from a Biblical line of priests. 'Ben' means "son of", giving you "Son of a Priest".

Common German name in the Rhineland, Baden, Saarland and Moselle during the late 1500s and early 1600s.

A famous name among Spanish Sephardim. The name later became Epstein and Horowitz

Berg - (Bergen)
German for mountain or hill. Burg means 'castle.' Both are often used as part of a town or village name, and occasionally interchanged.

Berlowitz and Berlfein
Meaning or origin of BERLFEIN? >>

"Three guesses:
1. A dealer/worker in precious stones, BERRYL Fein, (fine beryl, of Goldfein, Silberfein)

2. Another spelling for PERLFEIN--a specialist in pears (Perle in German). Or the descendant of a woman named Perl (the FEIN is added as above, or as below, respectively)

3. A descendant of BERL. It was common to tack a non-relevant German syllable on the end of a "Jewish" name to make it seem a thoroughly "German" surname (of BERNSTEIN, BERNFELD, HIRSCHBERG, HIRSCHMANN Posted by Michael Bernet

"I was mistaken. BERNSTEIN is German for "amber." When I thought about it a little, I realized that I could not come up with any common "Jewish" surname that tacked STEIN to a common Jewish first name. Words such as Blaustein, Guenstein, Rothstein etc all are names of gemstones. Wasserstein and Scharfstein suggest whetstones, Kalkstein means limestone, etc. In some cases the -STEIN name may have been an indicator of trade or profession, in some of geographic origin, and in some a made-up name possibly based on a former first or surname.

BERNSTEIN may have been a dealer or worker in amber; it may also have been assumed by someone as an "improvement" on the name "BER," BAER" or "BEHR:"
Heating amber will soften it and eventually it will burn, which is why in Germanic languages the word for amber is a literal translation of Burn-Stone (in German it is Bernstein, in Dutch it is Barnsteen etc.).

Other endings that were *sometimes* tacked on arbitrarily to the end of a name include - BERG, -FELD, -BAUM, -BLUM, -STOCK, -SO[H]N, -T[H]AL

NISSENBAUM ("nut tree") was often derived from the first name Nissen (either Nathan, or Nissan), BIRNBAUM ('pear tree") from Behr," Michael Bernet,

According to Alexander Beider's book "A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire" published in 1993 these surnames, when translated, mean either "bee tree" or "bee hive": "Binenbaum A; Bienenbaum (German) bee tree (bee hive) (Binenbojm)" "Binenbojm (Khotin, Rovno) A: Binenboym (Yiddish) See Binenbaum"

There could be additional derivations of the Surname, which was mis-written when people translated their surnames from one language to another language or moved from one village to another. All of the listed Surnames when translated mean "pear tree".

Barambejm; Baranbojm; Barembojm; Barenbaum; Barinbaum; Barnbejm; Berenbaum; Berinbejm; Bernbaum; Birenbaum; Birinbaum; Birnbaum; Borenbejm; Borimbojm

We are building a web site for people with any of the above Surnames. We have started with the surnames of BINENBAUM, BIENENBAUM, BINENBOYM or BINENBOJM or any derivation of this Surname. We have been searching
most of the English language web sources and have found about fifty (50) names from around the world. From a posting by Larry Schenker. LPSCA@EARTHLINK.NET
The home page to this web site at

Block (aka Bloch, Blach, Bleich)

A German name meaning "do not borrow"

Caro / Karo
any assume that this surname is Sephardi, but that isn't true, according to research offered by Leslie Reich lreich@tiscali.co.uk
in a posting. Caro or Karo has long been in use also as an Ashkenazi surname. There was a famous 15th century Rabbi in Prague, Avigdor Caro, whose tombstone can still be seen. We find the title in use, perhaps not in the sense of a surname, still earlier in Germany and France awarded to Rabbis who are expert in the Bible.

Further, Chava Agmon havahug@barak-online.net states on JewishGen Forum of 3/2/02 'many people do not realize that the name Caro / Karo is not necessarily only a Jewish name. She further quotes Paul Jacoby LL.D as stating that the name is 'not necessarily Jewish'. The posting is very interesting to those researching this surname.

Caro - in Spanish means a deer. There was a Yosef Caro, the author of the Sulchan Aruch is written in Hebrew as Kuf - Alef - Reish - Alef. In the west European Yiddish, the pronouncing of the Alef is a lot of cases is sounded as an 'O' = Karo. The name K,R,O may be derived from the Hebrew word Kore which means 'a reader' (perhaps a reader of the Torah). The name, though it may have been of Spanish origination, according to Ury Link uryl@globalxs.nl it was popular in the province of Posen in Germany.

Almost exclusively associated with Cohanim.

The Cohen Index
A list of the Cohen surnames which appear in the PRO (British National Archive) Index of Naturalizations.


Wood cutter (also Kotzetz and Chotekh meaning chopper/cutter)

In Russian, the equivalent of this surname is Bodnar. It also translates to hooper.

This surname is associated with one of the following localities in the Bialystok region: Dobrzyniewo Wielkie; Dobrzyniewo Fabryczne (near Bacieczki); Dobrzyniowka (near Zabludow)

From German Dreifuss literally meaning three feet. See Bernie Hirsch's web page for more information


Epstein, Benveniste, Eppstein, Epshteyn, Epstein, Gorovich, Gorowitz, Gurevich, Horovitz, Horowitz, Horvitz, Horwitz, Hurvitz, Hurwitz

"Most of the Epstein's are Levy's.  According to the tradition, they belonged to the Sephardic family Benveniste and adopted the surname Epstein in the German town of the same name.  However, it is known that other families, for different reasons, adopted the surname Epstein.  usually those are not Le vvys."  From a posting by Inacio Steinhardt




A German name means donkey's head

A German name for Falcon or Hawk.

Feuerstein (fire stone)
Old Diaspora name. It would be a direct translation of the German name Feuerberg (Fayerberg, etc. in Yiddish). The name Feuerstein (fire stone) is usually translated in Hebrew as Halamish (flint stone)

Some were Cohanim, the majority not.

A name common to all of the languages from the Teutonic group including Scotland, which along with England, had considerable input from the Danes, and of course, Yiddish - no early contact with the Danes as far as I know). The spelling varies a bit, but it's basically the same word with the same meaning (someone who fishes). From a posting by Roberta Sheps

A German diminutive of Francis or Frantz

Of Oldenzaal (Overijssel, Netherlands)

A German name meaning gallows' rope

for wife/spouse. In Romance languages (both Romanian and Italian are Romance languages) Gatti, Gatto, etc. means 'cat' and it could be a form for the common Jewish (Kohanic) name KATZ. Gattin may also be a variant of Goietin, the name of a famous Hungarian family of rabbis, orientalists and experts on Arab and on French literature and history.

In Yiddish or German means spice

The name may be derived from the Prussian town Glatz, known in Polish as Klodzko

GLATZER is additionally one of those surnames that started off as a distinguishing mark of a person, such as WEISS, LANG, STARK, KRUMBEIN. It means "Baldy." (German Glatze = bald patch)

Our ancestors were realists. They had no ads or media to delude them into thinking they had to be absolutely beautiful or miraculously perfect. Being bald, or limping was neither a shame nor an insult. The female given name Kahle (Kaele/Kehle), once common among German Jews,
happens to mean "bald" but is actually derived from Karoline (Caroline)

From the village of Glinki - see Bernie Hirsch's web page for further information

A common contraction of the German name Gottfried and Gottschalk. Among Jews, it is generally used as a byname with the Hebrew name Elyakim, sometimes Shaltiel. Sometimes it's rendered Getz, Getzl.

Some Goldbergs were Cohanim, the majority not.

In German/Yiddish it means gold (yellow) beard

Means 'dove' and is similar to "Columbus"

In "A Dictionary of Jewish Names & Their History", Benzion Kaganoff explains that Gottlieb (a German name meaning "Beloved of God") was often translated into Hebrew as Yedidyah Gottlieb. In turn, the name Eliezer was often associated with the German-Yiddish name Gottlieb and shortened to Lieb.

The bearers of this surname came from the town of Dbuosary, then Ukraine, now Moldova

Harlap (Charlap)
Family related to the Yekhia-Don Yekhia Family

From German hirsch, meaning deer. Har-Esh might also be a Hebrew-sounding rendition of the name Hirsch or Hersch, meaning deer. The Hebrew translation for this would be Tzvi, but Hirsch etc. is properly associated with Naftali. From a posting by Michael Bernet

Commonly used by Christians in Germany during the late 1500s and early 1600s. Used more commonly perhaps than by Jews.

Common German name in the Rhineland, Baden, Saarland and Moselle during the late 1500s and early 1600s.

Almost exclusively associated with Cohanim. The word Kagan comes to our lexicon from the Chussar Nation which was located between the Black and Caspian Seas. The leaders of the Chussars were called Kagans. Some time in the 5th Century, the "Big Kagan" of the Chussars decided to unify the nation by imposing a single religion. After consultation with Clergy of the 3 religions, he decided that the Jewish religion was the one for them (the aristocracy).

The Princes (Kagans) became Cohanim. When the Attila the Hun invaded their territory, the Chussars moved West (most to Hungary) some to Russia. The ones that arrived in Russia adapted the Russian way of life but not the religion. (for more on that, read the book "The 13th Tribe"). You'll find that a Russian Cohen will most likely be called Kagan or Kaganowicz. From a posting by Arie Wishnia ariewish@att.net

With respect, very little in your history of the Khazar (in Hebrew: Kuzari) nation bears a resemblance to the known facts. In recent times a well researched book written by Kevin Brook was published and there are references to it on the internet.

The background to the name "Kagan" is prosaically simple. A
Russian speaker can pronounce a hard "K" but not a soft "H", which becomes a "G", hence "Kahan" becomes "Kagan". So Mr. Cohen became Mr. Kagan in Russian speaking lands. For the most part up to 1917 you could rely on him being Jewish and a Cohen, because if you were changing your name you would tend to try for one which was no so obviously Jewish. After 1917 all bets are off. From a posting by Charles Vitez

Almost exclusively associated with Cohanim.

"Means" cat in German. "It's a name, borne by some Jews. In many cases, as you say, it is an acronym derived from cohen Tzedek (cohen of righteousness).

Question: I was told that KATZ meant cohen tzadik (righteous cohen) (Reply == ) In many cases, among Jews, it is not the name of a Kohen.

==The name may be derived from the sign on a house or an inn

==It may be abbreviated from the name of a town (Katzenellenbogen, Munkacs, Katzenberg )

==It may be derived from a trade or office (Katzin [heb] = official; Katzav [heb] = butcher; Katzir [heb] = harvest; katzar [heb] = short

==the Katz ancestor may have owned a cat, sold cats, skinned cats, tanned cat pelts.

==the Katz ancestor may have looked like a cat, spoken like a cat, had eyes like a cat,
even smelled like one

== none of the above, simply chance, whim or fate.

== Coincidentally, Aaron was the name of the first Kohen. It is relatively rare today for a Kohen to have the first name Aaron; perhaps Katz was your ancestor's idea of a pun on his name. Or, perhaps, the local naming official knew something of the Kohen-Katz connection and thought an Aaron would be well named as Katz." From a posting by Michael Bernet

The name is almost exclusively associated with Cohanim. KATZ is a Hebrew acronym for "Kohen Tzedek" (Righteous Kohen/Priest) and was adopted by many who claim kohen lineage. It is an Ashkenazi surname. From a posting by Avrohom Krauss

Alexander Sharon posted - "Katz is a Sefardi surname and it appears in the Jewish Galicia records before the introduction of Germanic names."

Some suggest that when family names were made mandatory, this was given to Jews in a derogatory, insulting fashion. It means Cat's elbow.

Usually reserved for a retail butcher, not for the Schochet who slaughters the animal

The rattle used by the sexton to waken the people

Cloister man

The man who knocks on the shutters to rouse people for morning worship

Berg is German for mountain

The name means "Short People" in Russian

Kushnir (Kushner)
A shortened form from the Ukrainian surname Kushnirenko - son of kushnir, i.e. furrier.

It is used both in Germany and Scandinavian and eastern European countries as well. In a Danish article

it says: (in Danish) "Langbjerg (Langberg), ved Hanved. Flensborg Amt". Meaning: In the Province of Flensborg, near Hanved is a place called Langbjerg or Langberg (translates as "long mountain/hill") It is now in Germany just west of Flensborg, near the Danish border.

This surname became very popular as a Jewish name thanks to its use in "Anna Karenina" by Tolstoy about the time Jews in Russia were taking surnames. The name looks Jewish to us and now so many Russian Jews are named Levin, Levinskiy, etc. that Russians think it's a Jewish name.

May indicate Levite descent, but may also be a 'simplification' of other names, e.g. Loewi, Loewenstein, etc.

"The Levites had their own duties as scribes and teachers; some of them were singers or instrumentalists in the Temple in Jerusalem, some did assist the Kohanim in the Temple duties. The only duties the Levites now perform is to wash the hands of the Kohanim before these mount to the Dukhan to pronounce the threefold blessing."

"HaLevy (The Levy) was used to differentiate between Moshe The Balegule, Moshe The Levy, or Moshe The Cohen. haLevy or haKohen is a title that was always used as an indicator of status, not as a means of differention. It was/is an integral part of the correct Hebrew name, Shem haKadosh, used in religious contexts--circumcision, reading the Torah, marriage, divorce, ill-health, death, memorial, tombstone. The Levy (or a derivative like Levine, Levinson, Levitas) was used by some as a surname, in addition to the Levy title."

"Sgan "sameh, gimel, nun" (in modern Hebrew) means second to (Second to the person in charge), therefore, if Sgan is an assistant, and "Segan" or "Segal" is also an assistant, then "Sega (n)(l)" before the Levy means that the person was an assistant to a Levy."

"SegEn is a deputy, not a second nor an assistant-deputy prime minister, deputy chairperson, deputy clinic head, lieutenant [to a captain--the original French usage of the military term]. Segan means "deputy to." SegeL means, among other things, a corpus, staff, bureaucracy etc. Segan and Segel are not the same in meaning."

"As a Levy, I know (from Hejder) that I was to assist a Cohen. I do not recall (its over 58 years) that the Leviates had also assistants. Again, the only assistance was to wash the Kohen's hands on the rare occasion when he was about to pronounce the threefold blessing."

"There is no mention anywhere in history that the Levites were considered deputies to Kohanim. The term Segal, its application to Levites, and the explanation that it meant Segan Leviyah, did not arise before the 11th century in Europe. I believe the attribution is erroneous. I am researching the topic and hope to include it in a forthcoming article, together with one or two other puzzling Jewish name combinations." Posted by Michael Bernet

From the given name Lew (Lev in Yiddish) for further information see Bernie Hirsch's web page

Common German name in the Rhineland, Baden, Saarland and Moselle during the late 1500s and early 1600s.

Lurias and Luries
"Everyman's Judaica" lists a number of Lurias and Luries. The
Lurias listed were born in Russia, Lithuania, Poland and Italy. One of the greatest Lurias was the leading cabbalist (and healer), Isaac ben Solomon Ashkenazi Luria, known as Ha-Ari (the Lion) (1534-1572), born in Jerusalem and brought up in Egypt, and settled in Safed (Tsfat), North Israel, where he founded/established the renowned kabalistic school of thought and College of Kabala. The Luries mentioned in 'Judaica' were born in Poland, Lithuania and the U.S.

Maiman - (Maimon)
A popular Sephardic last name in cities like Du Shan Bey and Tashkent. The belief among those who have the name is that they are descendants of the Rambam (Rabbi Moses Ben Maimon - Maimonides).

Margulis (Margolis, etc.)
Means pearl in both the Greek and Hebrew Languages. Variations include: Margolis, Margulies, Margoulis, Margolieth, etc. From my observation, Margolis seems to appear most often in Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, while Margulis shows up most often in Ukraine and Russia. In the Dvinsk Database (Latvia) there are 21 Margolis records. Most bearers of this name who originated from Poland, descend from a Polish family of Talmudic scholars who themselves descend from RASHI (1040-1195). The Jewish Encyclopaedia has a number of biographies of families bearing the name or a variant of all of whom descend from Margolieth family of Poland. The definitive Margolieth family history is Ma'a lot' ha Yuhasin by Ephraim Zlamn Margolioth (1762-1828).

Notable bearers of this name include: Russo-Polish Rabbis Isaac Margolis (1842-1887). Other Russian names are: Margulies, Margolin, Margolius, Margoliot, Margolouth, Margoliuth, Margarita, Margolies, Margoles all of which are matronymic in origin being derived from the first-name of the mother of the initial bearer. From an email from Jerry Margolis

Frequently derived from the Hebrew name (from the Persian) Mordechai. A version of this name is Markovitch

A Russian word meaning "Bear" - it may refer to an eponymous "Ber" - "OW" is a genitive-plural suffix and "sky" makes it an adjective.

Moel (Mohel)
From the Yiddish word Mohel, meaning circumciser

Mogilner (Mogilno)
Probably referring to someone who lived near a burial ground as Mogilchik is Russian for gravedigger. In Polish, 'mogila" means "grave". There are towns with the name Mogilno in Ukraine, another near Poznan and still another in Belarus near Stolbtsy, as well as a Mogilyani east of Rovno.

A Hebrew abbreviation from 'Mocher Sefarim' Mem- Vav Samech' and it means Book Seller. In Holland, normally the family name Moss means the above abbreviation. Of course, it can be also abbreviation for a lot of places in Europe or names Moshe. According to Beryl Kaganoff (page 59) of the nearly 750 names in British records of Jews in the 12th century, thirty eight were called Moss or Mosse (for Moses).

Nagorny, Nagurny
Names based on personal characteristics; stems from Polish nagorny meaning: (living) up a mountain). The name is found in Lomza, Ostroleka and Mazowieck.

There were many Nemerovs from the Guberniyas of Kiev and Chernigov as well as from Odessa. The name derived from Ukrainian town of Nemirov.

Vitaly Charny Vcharny@aol.com stated that "I know about NEMIROVSKY records prior 1984/95 - a record of 1893 originated from Bobruisk with reference to Kiev as a hometown." From a posting on 2-5-03

Leslie Oberman at his web site created a wonderfully descriptive page relating to the meaning of the name

A German name meaning ox tail

Found in Akkerman Uyezd; Ovseevich; no particular Uyezd; Ovseiovich found in Oshmyany, and Slonim Uyezds; Ovsejovich found in Oshmyany and Grodno Uyezds; Ovsievich found in Cherkassy, Chigirin, Kiev, Kamenets Uyezds; Ovsiovich found in Kiev, Kamenets, Odessa Uyezds

Paraylo(s) (Carvalho - pronounced CarbalYO)
It has many derivates, including Carbajal/Cavajal, Carbajo/Carvajo, Carballo/Carvallo. Carvalho is the Portuguese version of this name, and it/was a common Sephardic/Converso name. The famous Luis Carbajal family of New Spain (modern day Mexico) were Conversos who were burned at the stake there by the Inquisition in the 1500s.

Probably had its roots in either the village of Pawlowice, Poland or Pavlovichi in Lithuania/Belarus according to Alexander Sharon


(various English spellings of this Biblical name are Pinkhas, Pinchas, Pinkus and Phinneas)

A Jewish family in Bohemia, prominent since the 17th century in finance, business, leadership and scholarship. It is generally held that the name originated from Frankfurt-am-Main in Germany. The two "f's" in Frankfurt are rendered with a peh in Hebrew and Frankfurt was commonly abbreviated Peh" Peh. Popper was thus just a shorthand way of saying Frankfurter. From a posting by Michael Bernet.

Means cork. a.k.a. Probnovich. There is some information that it is a Slavic word: "Propinacja" (small-scale production of alcohol, transport, and inns often used all together).

From the German language meaning vine, or tendril, or from Rebhun, a partridge.

Almost exclusively associated with Cohanim.

A *very common* Portuguese-Brazilian surname. It translates into "Kings" and it originates from the 3 kings who visited Jesus when he was born in Bethlehem. Eventually converso Portuguese Jews could have taken the REIS surname which eventually became KONIG in Germany or in German speaking countries. But I really doubt that there is any correlation between the surname REIS and the German-Jewish surname REISS which originates from shields depicting a Giant, stemming from the German word Riese (== giant) (source Kaganoff) From a posting by Tom Venetianer tom.vene@uol.com.br

Royz in Yiddish means rose - resh vav jod zayin. In Poland, the name would be spelled Rojz and Alexander Beider finds it in Biala, Radzyn, Pulawy, Janow and Warsaw. Artificial names starting with Rojz - abound in Poland and they all derive from the name of the flower.

In German it means horse.

From German rote Rosen, literally red roses

Derived from the name Reuven

From numerous place names and nouns, most of which are connected with the Polish root rudy, meaning red-haired, ginger-haired, or ruda, ore. Further information available


Saba (Sabah)
In Turkish it means 'morning'. Dov Cohen's lists of 7,300 brides and grooms of Izmir, Turkey, covering the late 1800s and early 1900s, includes brides and grooms with the Saba surname. Saba is also the name of one of the islands in the Netherlands Antilles, located in the Caribbean Sea. The Encyclopedia Britannica lists Saba as a pre-Islamic kingdom in southern Arabia.

Another interpretation, this one by Michael Bernet, the Saba name has many origins: It is a variant of Sheba, the country on the gulf of Suez that was home of the Queen of Sheba. The name of a prominent Jew, Abdallah ibn SABA, in Arabia who allied himself with Mohammed and converted to Islam, reputedly he was the founder of the Shi'ite sect. The names of a number of regions in the middle east. Aramaic (not Hebrew -- In Hebrew it's Sav) for grandfather. The names of a number of Amoraim (compilers of the Talmud) in Mesopotamia around the 4th century. And there are a few more interpretations, according to Michael in a posting.

A variation of Schorr, a symbolic reference to the name "Joseph" where Joseph is compared to an ox ("shor" in Hebrew). Also appears as Schayer, Schauer.

Schaye is the same as Yeshayahu (i.e. Isaiah) and is a very common Yiddish rendering of the biblical name

An acronym, but may have two different meanings. One is from "Shem Yisrael Kodesh" (the name of Israel is holy). The other may represent a descendent of the famous 16th century Italian rabbi, Shmuel Yehudah Katzenellenbogen.

In Judaism, a form of Shimon (Simon).

Means, literally "of/from Silesia"--and before 1918 some of Silesia was a part of the Austrian empire. It was therefore quite a common Jewish name in the Austrian empire. The Encyclopedia Judaica has 13 principal entries under that name, including a number of renowned rabbis, musicologists, scholars and economists. The Schlesinger family in Vienna was wealthy and influential and held the position of Hofagenten (court factors) to a number of kings and the emperor. It is not unlikely that a Jewish landowning family would be related to this branch.

A German name meaning grease

A variation of Schmulke which is a form of Schmuel (Samuel) therefore, Schmelkin means a descendent of Samuel.

Schmerler Family

This word was applied to a very old man as he appeared before the naming commission. It means "snowy figure".

The German translation of "Bonaparte" and was assumed by
some Jewish families in Germany in honor of Napoleon Bonaparte who brought them freedom.

A handyman or laborer, or an owner, herder or trader in sheep - perhaps a vet specializing in sheep. Jockel seems to mean Jack, guy, fellow. Some additional meanings of Schoffe part are 1.) a lay assessor or magistrate; 2.) mean, shabby, deceitful (probably a Judaeo-German word from the Hebrew 'shafel') 3.) to scoop or draw water.

This word was applied to a man with a slight facial scar as that is the meaning of the word and was probably given by the naming commission.

Source of the Germanic name meaning school [synagogue] man

The name taken by a synagogue official in a community, as it is from the German "Schultheiss" (village magistrate" or "overseer")

Schwaube (Schwabe) family
One of the most important lines of notabilities of the ancient Metz Jewish community.



or Shimke would be Yiddish for Simchah; Shimshe would be Yiddish for Shimshon (biblical Samson). Shimshe might also stand for Shim'on (Simon); other alternatives are Sishyeh (Siskind or Sismann).

SEGAL (but not Siegel)
Spelled Samekh-gimmal-lamed, is a name used to indicate Levitical ancestry and is used also with other names as an indication that the person is a Levite. SEGAL is said to be an acronym, with a number of different provenances. There is much doubt about the accuracy of the explanation for the SEGAL term (often written as an abbreviation, with a "double quote" between the middle and last letter, i.e. SeGa"L). The term goes back 1000 years among Ashkenazim.

It is not unreasonable that an ancestor may have alternated between the Levy/haLevy designations and the Segal designation, and may occasionally have used both--and in either order. A Levite's tombstone usually shows a water pitcher (often tilted, sometimes with a basin, sometimes held in a hand) reflecting the Levite's only remaining duty, that of washing the hands of the Cohanim before these mount the Dukhan to recite the threefold blessing.

In earlier times (and still today among the very religious) surnames are not mentioned on a tombstone, only the name of the person, the name of the father, and the status if a Kohen or a Levi.

Among German Jews it was common to use the word Selig after
a name, the equivalent of "of blessed memory."

Shaltiel (Sealtiel)
A famous name among Spanish Sephardim. My own maternal family has many Shattil surnames.

"This surname is connected mainly with the town of Speyer in Rhineland, Germany, but may also be connected with Spier in Friesland (The Netherlands) or Spiere (Belgium). Speyer has a very interesting history from the Jewish Genealogy point of view. In 1066, during the First Crusade, Swabian Count Emich von Leiningen became notorious for his attack of the Jews there, 12 of whom were saved through the intervention of the local bishop. These are the dozen from which most of the Shapiras, Spierers and Shapir of the World derive." This information offered by Dr. Shimon Barak

Some were Cohanim, the majority not. The majority of Shapiros can be associated with the Hebrew for sapphire.

Shkolnik (Slavik) (Skolnik, Shames) means sexton

Shochet (Schochet)
"According to Benjamin Edelstein's dictionary of Jewish last
names (AGJA's recent edition, Spanish) some other last names related to the Schochet are:

Shub, Shuub, Szub, Szubb, Schub - acronym of Shochet Ubodek Schar, Scher, Szer, Shar, Sher, Schere - acronym of Shochet Rab (another meanings are related to scissors/tailors) Reches (Spanish phonetics Rejes) - acronym of Rab Chazan Shochet (another meaning is related to Rachel)"

"Diccionario de Apellidos Judios - Su etimologia, variantes y derivados Benjamin Edelstein Asociacion de Genealogia Judia de Argentina - Editorial Dunken Buenos Aires 2003
ISBN 987-02-0309-4 From a posting by Carlos Glikson Buenos Aires

Spelled in Hebrew samekh-yod-gimmal-lamed; Segal is ALWAYS spelled without the yod. Siegel can have been a seal maker, a brick maker, or an abbreviated Siegalnovsky etc. If a person surnamed Siegel is truly a Levite, it's a coincidence or a misspelling. The correct pronunciation, if it is indeed an acronym meaning deputy, is Segal, not Sagal because the first vowel of Segen/Segan is a sounded shva, not a patach. What I am increasingly coming to believe is that the true origin of the name also requires an "e" for the first vowel. From a posting by M Bernet

See Srebnick

A German name meaning sing me something

In Slavic, the word means 'orphan' and may have described an orphan or may have described a person who looked sad and depressed.

The position of sexton is the source of the Germanic names Schulman (school [synagogue] man), Klausner (cloister man), ... Klopman (the man who knocks on the shutters to rouse people for morning worship), and Klapholtz (the rattle used by the sexton to waken the people), and the Slavic for Schulman, Shkolnik (Skolnik), as well as the Hebrew Shames (shammas), which means sexton. As posted by Sam Aaron

Sluzewsky (Sluzewski)
Associated with the Polish town names and/or the Polish nobility surname. Check such places as Sluzewiec (known as the Warsaw hippodrome), Sluzewo or Sluzew in Poland. Meaning of the name derivates from 'sluga', Slavic for the 'servant', most probably king's (royal) servant.

This is my wife, Shirley's maiden family surname. I have tracked it back to Ossipovich Belarus where the Smolkin family owned an apple orchard. Any relatives out there?

Means Sabbath in Czech though the Hebrew letters of both surnames are quite different. The Sobotka Family was originally from Prague and was possibly connected to the Family of Rabbi Low. Sobotka is a village north of Prague. There are also villages of the same name in Poland. Beider's book states that it means bonfire and also from a village in Grodno Guberniya.

Sokol [soh koow]
In Polish identifies a falcon, a bird used in hunting.

Spector (Spektor, Speckter)
A Polish version of the Jewish surname Spektor which often denoted a trade related to the production or sale of viewing lenses i.e. magnifying glasses or eye glasses.

A name applied by the naming commission to a very vivacious, active person.

Srebnick / Silverman (Silver)
Means silversmith, from the Polish word srebro (silver) which is very similar in many other Slavic languages. Silber in German.

Steinloff (most probably a corruption of Steinlauf) A family
from central Galicia mainly around Brzesko, Bochnia and Wisnicz.

Professor Eliezer Sukenik (1889 - 1952) was Israel's premier archaeologist. He acquired many of the Dead Sea scrolls for Israel and devoted the rest of his life to their study.

A German name meaning pocket grasper, etc.

A German name meaning temperature change

Means valley in German

A German name meaning despoiler

Name means varnish in Polish

Vinokur (or Winokur)
Name may have an ancient origin. Wino (vino) depicts the wine in Slavic languages. Etymology of the 'kur' is associated with the smoke (kurit' in Russian - smoking), associated with the technology of the moonshine produce. The raw material had to be warmed up to the boiling point to initiate a fermentation process and where there is a fire there is also a smoke.

Russian Tsar, Peter the Great introduced a monopoly for certain common products in Russia in order to get more taxes. A basic and popular Russian foods, like vodka and salt (later matches
and few others
) were monopolized by the government, who licensed only certain business people to be engaged in production of those basics. Moonshine making was forbidden, and probably in this historical time all the vinokurs have re-engineered themselves into wine making specialists and became a vinodels (wine maker).

There are other Jewish names in Slavic, associated with winemaking, like Winiarz, Winiarski and names related to the moonshine making: Gorzelnik. Probably the most famous moonshine maker name is Bronfman. From a posting by Alexander Sharon.

Volpe and Volpi
Not unusual surnames in Italy. Volpe means fox in Italian.

The 'white one'

Refers to German Jewish practices and is Yiddish for jacket. The origin of the name (yekke) is not known for certain. s.elijah_yecke@yahoo.com

Yeshayahu (Jesha'ayahu)
Three words are being connected to one name, Yesha, meaning: Salvation / help, Ya, meaning: God, and Hu, meaning: he / its. So: Salvation Is God.

Yekhia-Don Yekhia Family
This family went from Portugal into northeast Russia, Latvia and Belarus and is related to the Charlap (Harlap) family

Zelda See Seldis

Zmudik (Zhmud)

Refers to the area of Kovno Guberniya including the Shavli, Tels, Rassein and western part of the Kovno districts according to Alexander Beider's "A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire". He notes that the name Zmudik was found there in the beginning of the 20th century. He also found the name Zhmud as far away as Ekaterinoslav Guberniya.

In the book "Lithuanian Jewish Communities", the authors describe the Zhamot (Zhmud, Samogitia) region of northern Lithuania as a separate area under the Council of the Land of Lithuania. There is also a reference to a Polish town 82 km ESE of Lublin.


Jewish Personalities
Celebrities and
Real Names



A link to famous people




Here is a site that lists famous Jews, sorted according to categories i.e. actors, gangsters, heroes, lawyers, etc. http://www.yahoodi.com/famous/famstart.html

Jewish Sports Figures
Ari Sclar has created a web site which lists Jewish sports figures - even if only one parent is Jewish. It is called "Jews in Sports Online"

It has been estimated that there have been somewhere between 140 and 160 Jews who have played major league baseball since the late 19th century. Lipman Pike is considered to have been the first professional Jewish baseball player and played in the 1870s. There is/was a 142 baseball card set printed created by Martin Abramowitz.

Hank Greenberg
Baseball's First Jewish Superstar. Article about Hank is on the American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS) Newsletter of Fall/Winter 2003 page 11

Celebrity Death Information

Jewish Celebrities

Original Birth Names

Stage Name

Karen Blanche Ziegler

Karen Black

Arthur Jacob Arshawsky

Artie Shaw

Aaron Chwatt

Red Buttons

Ella Geisman

June Allyson

Sidney Leibowitz

Steve Lawrence

Karen Blanche Ziegler

Karen Black

David Kotkin

David Copperfield

Jacob Cohen

Rodney Dangerfield

Chaim Witz

Gene Simmons

Marion Levy

Paulette Goddard

Simone-Henriette Kaminker

Simone Signoret

Melvyn Hesselberg

Melvyn Douglas

Asa Yoelson

Al Jolson

Mendel (Milton) Berlinger

Milton Berl

Fanny Borach

Fanny Brice

Bernard Schwartz

Tony Curtis

Bobby Zimmerman

Bob Dylan

Elliot Goldstein

Elliot Gould

Israel Baline

Irving Berlin

Stephanie Federkrewcz

Stephanie Powers

Belle Silverman

Beverly Sills

Betty Joan Perske

Lauren Bacall

Nathan Birnbaum

George Burns

David Daniel Kaminsky

Danny Kaye

Edward Israel Iskowitz

Eddie Cantor

Benjamin Kubelsky

Jack Benny

Michael Orowitz

Michael Landon

Allen Stewart Koenigsberg

Woody Allen

Isser Danielovitch Demsky

Kirk Douglas

Sophia Kalish (Father's surname was Abuzza; Mother's surname was Linetsky)

Sophie Tucker

Joseph Gottleib

Joey Bishop

Natasha Gurdin

Natalie Wood

Lyova Geisman

Lee Grant

Joyce Penelope Frankenburg

Jane Seymour

Joseph Levitch

Jerry Lewis

Melvin Kaminsky

Mel Brooks

Elaine Berlin

Elaine May

Michael Peschkowsky

Mike Nichols

Gerald Silberman

Gene Wilder

Erich Weiss


Jacob Cohen

Rodney Dangerfield

Joan Molinsky

Joan Rivers

Borge Rosenbaum

Victor Borge

Ivo Levy

Yves Montand

Amos Jacob

Lee J. Cobb

Lazlo Lowenstein

Peter Lorre

Emanuel Goldenberg

Edward G. Robinson

Judith Tuvim

Judy Holliday

Ira Grossel

Jeff Chandler

Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler

Hedy Lamarr

Sinatra Bio Explores Icon's Jewish Connections

Frank Sinatra may have been one of America's most famous Italian Catholics, but he kept the Jewish people close to his heart. For years, the Hollywood icon wore a small mezuzah - the encased prayer scroll traditionally hung on the door posts of Jewish homes - around his neck.

The pendant was a gift from Mrs. Golden, an elderly Jewish neighbor who cared for him during his boyhood in Hoboken, N.J., according to a new biography of the American icon.

"Sinatra was an only child whose mother alternatively spoiled and bullied him," said Robbyn Swan, the Ireland-based co-author of a new book, "Sinatra: The Life" (Knopf). "He seems to have been a lonely little boy" and Golden "offered him much-needed affection on which he could rely."

In an interview with the Forward, Swan said that her biography breaks new ground on at least two new fronts: It gives a fuller picture of Sinatra's tumultuous romances, including the one with fellow film-star Ava Gardner, and explores his links to such Mafia figures as Sam Giancana and Lucky Luciano.

As it turns out, Sinatra's cozy relations with mobsters may have put him in a position to help members of Haganah, the pre-state Zionist military organization, smuggle about $1 million.

"The irony," Swan said, "is the intersection of those two things: The Copacabana Club, which was very much run and controlled by the same Luciano-related New York mafia crowd that Sinatra had become enmeshed with, happened to be next door to Hotel 14... [which] the members of the Haganah cell [were] operating out of. So it was a very small world, and Sinatra was at the intersection."

Swan's book, co-written with her husband, Anthony Summers, generally shines a light on Sinatra's life-long commitment to fighting anti-Semitism and on his activism on behalf of Israel, which has been well documented over the years. The entertainer - who died in 1998 at the age of 82 - sang at an "Action for Palestine" rally as early as 1947, sat on the board of trustees of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and donated money to Jerusalem's Hebrew University, which honored him by dedicating the Frank Sinatra International Student Center. (The student center made headlines when terrorists bombed it in 2002, killing nine people.)

On a personal level, Sinatra protected his Jewish friends: According to "The Life," he once responded to an anti-Semitic remark at a party by simply punching the offender.

The authors of the new Sinatra book trace the singer's empathy for minorities, including blacks and Jews, back to his childhood. In addition to his early friendship with the coffee cake-wielding Mrs. Golden (whom he one day would honor by buying a quarter of a million dollars' worth of Israel bonds), Sinatra personally encountered the scourge of ethnic prejudice, and he never forgot his pain.

Italian Americans "were treated as badly in their own way and in their own time and place" as the Jews, blacks and the Irish, Swan said. As a boy, Sinatra "would walk those little streets" in Hoboken and "hear people say things like, 'Get the wop. Get the kike.' Because of his temperament, those became fighting words. He really got the idea that 'these people are like me.' He never deviated from that."

The entertainment legend played a Jewish pilot in "Cast a Giant Shadow," the 1966 film starring friend Kirk Douglas as Mickey Marcus, a real-life Jewish American colonel who fought and died in Israel's war for independence.

It could be seen as a case of art imitating life: In one of the book's most colorful passages, Summers and Swan describe how the real Sinatra helped Israel win the war by serving as a one-time money-runner for Teddy Kolleck, a member of the Haganah, who later served several decades as mayor of Jerusalem.

According to Kolleck's autobiography, in March 1948 he was
trying to circumvent an arms boycott that President Harry Truman had imposed on the Jewish fighters in Palestine, and he needed to smuggle about $1million in cash to an Irish ship captain docked in the Port of New York. The young Kolleck spotted Sinatra at the bar and, afraid of being intercepted by federal agents, asked for help. In the early hours of the morning, the singer went out the back door with the money in a paper bag and successfully delivered it to the pier.

Swan said Sinatra's bold move was consistent with his gutsy and impulsive personality. She noted that he also, on occasion, smuggled money for the Italian mob. The star's willingness to help the mafia and the Zionists alike is just one example of how he was "this complex man... [with] the good and the bad in him," Swan said. He was a passionate human being and having his own set of convictions, his own morality, [and a sense] for right or wrong, that's what he went with."

Sinatra's independence turned him into one of the great champions of civil rights as well as Jewish causes. The singer spoke publicly about the need for racial tolerance beginning in the 1940s. He headlined National Association for the Advancement of Colored People fund raisers in the 1960s and used his influence to ensure equal treatment for friends and fellow performers who were black.

Still, Swan said, even when Sinatra was fighting to help his friends in the black or Jewish communities, he couldn't quite put away his volatile personality. As is his signature song, the Hollywood legend did it "his way" till the end:

"As late as 1979, Sinatra raged over the fact that [in California] a Palm Springs cemetery official declared he could not arrange the burial of a deceased Jewish friend over the Thanksgiving holiday," Swan wrote in an Email: message to the Forward. "Though in his mid 60s, Sinatra declared that he was going to punch the offending official, [adding],' and if he's too old, I'll punch his son in the nose!'

more to come ...

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