Re: Russian Jewish surnames / question for historians #general


Judith Romney Wegner
 

But my family, which always regarded itself as of a certain distinction,
has a Hebrew surname, and we took it in the early 19th century. It exists
in many different transliterations in many different branches of the family
(Yohalem, Yaglom, Jaglom, etc.) But it's all the same Hebrew word.
John Yohalem.
Dear John,

Your name, Yohalem or Yahalom, intrigues me linguistically. I would like
to know what the name signifies according to your family's tradition. This
of course would depend on whether the letter "h" represents the Hebrew
letter heh or the Hebrew guttural het. If it is a het, then Yahalom (using
precisely those vowels) would mean "he shall dream" -- or simply "he
deams" in some contexts. If it is a heh, then it could be >from the verb
holem meaning to strike (like the clapper of a bell). But neither word
fit any obvious context, unless it is spelled with het and the first name
Joseph runs in your family -- the biblical Joseph is described as a
"dreamer of dreams."

Also, one has to wonder how Yahalom became transmuted into Yohalem (which
grammatically speaking is not a possible word formation in Hebrew.)

Judith Romney Wegner

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