from my experience in researching my family, a large majority ofmy ancestors whose name began with "S" became "Sam", regardless
of what their original name was. This also included retroactive
"Samification" for the names of their parents when they listed
father's name in marriage and death certificates - despite the
fact that said father never stepped foot out of the shtetl in
which he was born.
From: Toby Bird [mailto:tobyannebird@...]
Sent: Tuesday, February 21, 2012 8:36 PM
I'm in the midst of reading the Israeli writer Meir Shalev's memoir,
entitled "My Russian Grandmother and Her American Vacuum Cleaner:
a family memoir." (Called Ha'davar Hayah Kakha" in its original Hebrew.)
Shalev's grandfather Aharon Ben-Barak disdained two choices his
brother Yeshayahu made: to emigrate to America (>from their town
of Makarov in Ukraine) and to change his first name to Sam.
Aharon chose to emigrate to Palestine where he most assuredly shed
the family name used in the Ukraine and took on the name Ben-Barak.
So you end up with a potential difficulty familiar to a lot of us:
two brothers with two different last names. The brother who went
to America "invented" for himself a new first name and used probably
an approximation of the family name used in Ukraine. The brother
who went to Palestine used his original first name and "invented"
a new last name.