Re: Was Ira Jewish? #general

Robert Israel <israel@...>

In article <>, <> wrote:

In a message dated 8/2/2003 9:55:23 AM Eastern Daylight Time, very gracious acknowledged an unfortunate
misunderstanding, in a previous message
<< Well, I learned something today. I have extracted many Polish and
Lithuanian records for different towns and had never seen the name Ira.
I didn't know it was a Yiddish name or a Hebrew name as various people
have pointed out-or that it was in the Bible.
No, Ira has never been as popular a name among Jews as Isaac or Jacob.
Anyone not fully aware of the genealogy and history of that area can
certainly be excused for not knowing that it was recorded in the areas of
greater Russia (incl Poland and Podolia) as early at 1765.
For some statistics, I tried entering "Ira" in the Global Text Search
of Jewishgen's All Poland Database at
<>. It found
1 entry in the Brest Ghetto Passport Archive
4 in the Index of 1890 and 1891 NY Immigrants >from Austria, Poland and
Galicia (of which 2 were for Ira as a last name)
1 in the JewishGen Yizkor Book Necrology Database (Poland)
2 in the Lwow Ghetto
1 in Borislav-Drohobycz Delinquent Water Bills 1941-1942
5 in Pinkas HaNitzolim II
1 in Czestochowa Forced Laborers
3 in Galician Forced Laborers >from Lviv (but referring to the same person)

and several for burial records in various US states and US State
Department files. Note that the only 19th century records were two
NY Immigrants.

For comparison, "Ida" had 694 total matches excluding the US burials and
US State Department files.

So it appears that although the name Ira did exist in Poland, it was rare
there, and very rare before the 20th century.

Sally's last assumption that Ira "was probably an 'American' version"
is difficult to support. True, there was Ira Gershwin in America, but he
was Jewish. There have been some 19th century non-Jews named Ira who
were born in the USA, notably Ira Remsen, co-inventor of saccharine, and
Ira Frederick Aldridge, a Black actor famous for tragic roles--but he
lived mostly in Europe (and, coincidence? died in Lodz).
Other early American Iras include Ira Allen, 1751-1814, younger brother
of the more famous Ethan Allen and an important figure in the history of
Vermont, and Ira David Sankey, 1840-1908, composer of gospel music.

Robert Israel
Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z2

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