false surnames #belarus


Barbara Epstein <bepstein@...>
 

On the question of false surnames: a story that has been passed down
in my family is that my grandfather, Leibl Tikhochinsky (or at least
that was his name when he left Russia) wanted to take a non-Jewish
name when he got to America. He asked other passengers on the boat -
this was a boatload of Russian Jews - and, the story goes, he was
told that Epstein was a very popular name in America. So when he got
to Ellis Island, he registered his name as Epstein. Does anyone know
if it was possible for those who came over in the early twentieth
century (around 1905, in my grandfather's case) to take new names in
this way, without any documents to support them?

Barbara Epstein

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