Monday, May 7, 2012

Where Has Your Name Been?

Poll:
What's your last name?
What was it originally?
Who changed it and under what circumstances?
19 comments

19 comments:

  1. Passy
    Passy
    No one. Family's from Salonica. I'm the sixth generation first born named after his grandfather. I'm the third to carry my name. My son is 7 & 4.

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  2. Originally my last name was "son of..." and my father's name. It was convenient and helped shield me from being conscripted into the army of the land where I lived.

    Since my family named children after grandparents (living or dead), when the army came knocking for 20-year-old me, I could hide and my grandfather (who had the same name as me) would show up and everyone would write it off as a bureaucratic error.

    Later the government got wise and demanded we all take last names. They expected us to take names of what we did (Tailor, Baker, Cooper, Smith). My family looked to the Torah and, of all places, noticed an innocuous word from the portion named for Korach (possibly not Judaism's greatest role model.)

    "Then he spoke to Korach and his whole community."

    "Adato" - the whole community.

    What is my name? I am myself, son of my father, of the whole community.

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  3. I am curious where you are going with this, Ruchie, and what you think the results will show. In the meantime, I'll play along.

    My last name at birth was Yudelson. I believe in "the old country" it was Yudelevitz, and got changed several generations ago.
    I got married and changed my name to Albahari. I don't have any information about the family name every being anything else.
    I got divorced and remarried and changed my name to Katz. Again, the family has had this name for as long as anyone knows.

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    Replies
    1. P.S. My daughter from my first marriage has always used a hyphenated version of her father's and step-father's last names. She is eagerly looking forward to turning 18 and legally changing her last name -- to Bat-Miriam.

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  4. My married last name is Ber. It's from Poland. It was not changed. My maiden name is Atkins. It was changed to Etkins from unknown origins when my grandfather's family emigrated from Russia to England. When they went from England to Canada, someone in immigration changed it to Atkins.

    I went to Hebrew school with a girl whose last name was Toronto. It was changed when her grandfathers family emigrated to Canada. The only word he knew in English was Toronto. So when they asked what his name was, he didn't understand and he said "Toronto".

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  5. My married name is Chilungu, 3 syllables (Chill-un-goo), and no, it hasn't changed. I know that sounds like a boring response to your question, but the funny thing is that people have asked us if we will change it to "sound more Jewish" (we are both converts, and my husband is a bi-racial, and he--now we--have an African last name). It's probably the reverse of what a lot of people had back in the day where pressure was to sound less Jewish. I was taken aback when we are asked this, and we have been asked this question by more than one person. I always reply "It is a Jewish last name. It's our last name and we're Jewish."

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    Replies
    1. I love your answer. Stick with it!

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  6. Lennhoff, 2 syllables, and unchanged. It means 'house on the Lenna', The Lena river in Germany flowed near the town my paternal grandparents came from. Interestingly, there are unrelated Lenhoffs (1 n instead of 2) from the same area.

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  7. My maiden last name was Wachter, pronounced Vechter. From what I know, vechtering is to watch over the dead body before the burial. My father's family were Satmar hasidim in Hungary for many generations and this could have been the basis for the name.

    My married name is Weiss, always was Weiss. My husband's family, as he says, is many generations Viennese. The name was never changed.

    My mother always told a story of a Jew coming to America and landing at Ellis Island. He was so nervous of the immigration authorities that when he was asked for his name he replied in Yiddish, "Ich hob shoyn fergesen (I have just forgotten it)!" So the official put his name down as Sean Ferguson.

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  8. My last name was probably changed in the old country. I read someplace that Hungarian Jewry, to please the Emperor Franz Joszef, changed their last names to German ones since he preferred the Austrian side of the empire. It has only one vowel.

    As for last names, since we never used to have them, I don't put much store in them.

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  9. miriambyk, I have a point which shall be revealed in due time :)

    I have three last names: my biological father's name (he passed away when I was six): Sobel. I have no idea what it means. It's Hungarian, and I don't think was changed.

    My step-father's name - Indich. It means turkey. (??)

    My married name: Koval, which my husband's grandfather shortened from the Ukrainian Kovalenko, to be more Americanized. He later regretted the change. His brother, also in the US but more Chassidic, did not change the name. Most Kovals actually are not Jewish but Ukrainian non-Jews. It means "blacksmith."

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    Replies
    1. I have no doubt that you have a reason for asking!

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    2. Hi Ruchi,

      Does your step-father have ancestors from Turkey/Ottoman Empire? I'm asking because "indich" sounds very similar to "hindi", which is Turkish for turkey :)

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    3. Hi Serpil! First, I am always bummed that I don't understand your Facebook posts...

      Second, I stopped cold when I read your comment, because my sister's name is Hindy Indich! So that's really interesting! I guess she's a Turkish turkish turkey. And as far as I know the family is Hungarian and Polish.

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    4. Hmm, Hungary could make sense because the country remained under the Ottoman control for some centuries long.

      If your sister visits Turkey, one thing is sure, she'll not be discriminated against with her very Turkish sounding names :)

      My posts in FB are generally about the problems women, minorities and children have in Turkey. I wish such problems didn't exist anymore.

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  10. Last name is Nathan, always was Nathan - at least that's what the Mazeivos say!

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  11. I have a common Jewish last name of German origin. It was my name originally. I did not change or add anything when I got married.

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  12. my married name was changed from a name with a beautiful Jewish significance to a very anglo sounding name when my husband's grandfather came over from White Russia in the early 1900's. When we got married we were thinking of changing it back but my husbands' parents didn't want us to. If we ever make aliyah though, we will probably do so. At this point I feel like the surnames are not as significant as (Hebrew) first names and I wish I knew more of the Hebrew names of our ancestors.

    It's also interesting to note that in this day and age a "Jewish name" doesn't mean you're Jewish (assuming that your definition goes by the halachic one of matrilineal descent). Danielle Rosenfeld wasn't Jewish, but Chris Smith was!

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  13. there is a cute story with our family name - there were 2 boys that grew up in Europe and were given a despicable name by the "poritz" (landowner) since they were poor - the more money you gave him, the better the name you were given. when they both moved to EY, although unrelated, they chose to use the same name - Gold...

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