Re: Was Ira Jewish? #general

Ira Leviton

Dear Group,

Regarding the recent exchange about the name Ira:

<< It was certainly not a common Hebrew/Yiddish name ... it was probably an
'American' version of some more common Hebrew/Yiddish name made up for
someone who never was in the US. >>


<< Ira was a Jewish name in Europe in the 18th and 19th century. There can
be no doubt about that. There is no need or reason to suppose it was
really an American name imposed retroactively on his ancestor by some
Jewish immigrant in the USA who couldn't think of a better name. >>

My response is: as with all names, it all depends on the type and
source of documentation, and what was meant by "probably" above.
Considering the very uncommon (rare) frequency of the name Ira in Europe,
there certainly is a chance that it was a guessed "backtranslation" --
maybe even a good chance -- but it also may have been the person's real
name. There is no certainty in this situation, other than to be uncertain
without the man's birth record. As with all "facts" in the field of
genealogy, the source document determines the accuracy. If it says Ira on
an individual's birth document, then it's a certainty his name was Ira --
although he still may have changed it later. But if it says Ira on the
line for "father's name" on his child's death certificate 120 years after
"Ira" was born, maybe his name was Ira, maybe it was Isaac, and maybe it
was Joe. That's one of the many reasons we pursue documents >from the
other side of the world. How many times have we obtained a document for a
relative with a name like Yakov or Rochel just to find out that the real
name was different than expected? Or at least spelled differently?

By the way, it dawned on me that one of the reasons that Ira may have a
rare name in Eastern Europe is because it ends with an "a" -- a feminine
ending. When I write to the state Archives in Poland, I always get
addressed as "Mrs." on their return letters (although I have been called
worse...) Of course, it may have been unpopular long before we reached
Eastern Europe (which is my gut feeling).

I'm enjoying all this attention, but I also think we've discussed my
name enough. Given its rarity, I don't think too many people are that
fascinated with it, although the general genealogical principles certainly

Ira Leviton
New York, N.Y.
searching for LEWITAN (Myszyniec and Rypin, Pol.), NIEDOBITEK (Rypin,
Pol.), RAPHAN/REPHEN/REPHAN/REBHUN (Ropczyce and Rzemien area, Pol.),
BLANK (Ropczyce, Debica, Mala, and Niedzwiada area, Pol.), KORN (Ropczyce
and Gorlice area, Pol.), ATLAS/ATLASS (Wien/Vienna, Austria)

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