Etymology of the name KRAVITZ #general


Judith Romney Wegner
 

Aizic Sechter wrote:

the name KRAVITZ which has a Slavic ring is also a Hebrew acronym
for a verse >from Psalms. "Kol Rina Ve Yeshua Be Ohalei Tzadikim."
Which we also recite in the holiday Halel prayer.

We are lucky that these ancestors left in writing the reason why
they chose these >names, otherwise we would never have known why these names were
chosen and would have given different, wild but not correct theories as some have
done in this discussion.
Dear Aizic,

This is a perfect example of a folk-etymology -- and a very
instructive example of how easily these charming traditions can arise!

In actual fact, the name KRAVITZ (more correctly spelled Kraviec
and (pronounced Kraviets) is Polish for tailor! The name is thus
just one among many surnames that reflect an ancestral occupation and
clearly did not originate as an acronym of the verse >from Psalm 118
quoted above. Moreover, the initial letters of the words >from the
psalms (qof-resh-vav-bet-tzaddi) do not spell KRAVITZ correctly in
either Hebrew or Yiddish, so the acronym is not in fact reflected in
the name.

The initial letters of the phrase >from Psalm 118,
qof-resh-vav-bet-tzaddi, would have had to be tampered with to
produce a spelling that would accurately represent either in Hebrew
or in Yiddish the precise sounds in the name K-R_A-V-I-TZ -- for
instance, by changing the vav of "vi-yeshuah" to an aleph to get
the "A" sound in the first syllable of KRAVITZ, and adding a yod
after the bet of "be-oholei" to get the "i" sound in the second
syllable. Furthermore, the name KRAVITZ when written in Yiddish would
presumably be spelled with a double vav and not a bet at all.

This particular folk-etymology is fascinating for another reason
also: it could neve have evolved but for the fact that the sounds
"B" and "V" are rendered by the same alphabet character in
Cyrillic. Otherwise there would have been no reason to associate the
V sound in KRAVITZ with the B sound in "B'Oholei" in the quoted
verse >from Psalms.

The message does not state with clarity exactly who it was that left
the written record of the reason for the name KRAVITZ. I wonder
whether the person who "left in writing the reason why *they* chose
these names" was actually the person who originally adopted the
surname Z because of the legal requirement. I I think it is far
more likely he was a descendant of the original KRAVITZ who was
simply recording a tradition he had he had heard >from an elder. In
other words, the association of the name with the verse >from Psalms
arose later, at some point after the name had actually been adopted.
The original reason for that choice of name was the occupation,
namely, tailor.

Judith Romney Wegner
jrw@...

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