Re: adopting surnames in the Pale: one story #general
Bob:toggle quoted messageShow quoted text
It's an interesting story indeed, and Beider's point is well-taken: we
only have results, i.e., the surnames themselves. Few people documented
the process of selecting their own surname. I wonder: what does
Beider's book on Russian-Jewish surnames have to say about this one?
(Especially the brand-new 2nd edition...)
As one recovering musicologist to another, let me comment on what you've
provided. All of what follows is meant in earnest, without irony, etc.
In short, I intend to sound like a grad student at a conference.
First, there are matters of time and place. Why the 1830s? Was this
event specific to Antopol, or did it happen elsewhere? Are there any
records that reflect this? (Also, I suspect that more foisting than
hoisting went on.)
Next, there's the issue of bribes. This is the core of the "Ekelnamen"
(horrible names) trope or meme or whatever: the notion that Jews who
couldn't pay, got nasty names. Did this ever happen? Evidence is
lacking--especially in the form of the supposed nasty names. (Receipts
would be too much to ask.)
Now, after paying up, these Jews propose to pick a name at *random*?
And the authorities--already identified as malicious, in that they're
effectively extorting money in exchange for "nice" names--will go for
that? Note that the probability that these Russian authorities knew any
Hebrew is vanishingly small. But a bribe makes them willing to stand by
while these <insert epithet here> choose a name in a language they don't
understand? For all the authorities know, it could mean "The Czar's
mother wears army boots" in the <repeat epithet>s' inscrutable Hebrew.
(OK--I wouldn't have said that last part at a conference.)
Seems like an awful lot of work to go to for a surname, especially when
it didn't necessarily signify all that much to the bearer. After all,
around the shtetl one would be known by the same name as before. I
wonder: what are the other words in that passage that might have been
chosen? Did others in Antopol or elsewhere choose some of those words
Finally, looking at the 288 Antopol surnames in the Family Finder, I
don't immediately see anything that would distinguish them >from surnames
anywhere else--nor do I see many that aren't within the main currents of
Jewish surname sources. Mind you, I'm willing to be proven wrong.
...who, unlike Bob, never wrote that dissertation...