Prof. G. L. Esterson <jerry@...>
Steve Franklin of Baltimore (my old home town!) posted as follows:
"All brothers gave surname Benjamin on arrival in UK. I have so far not
| been able to find any references to the name Benjamin in Lithuania, where
| they originated according to naturalization papers. I have also looked under
| Binyomin etc. to no avail. Doe anyone have any suggestions how to proceed
>from my own experience with given names (not surnames, but the same logic may
apply), "Benjamin" can be used interchangeably with Beynes, Beinis, Benesh, and
even Berman. My great-grandfather and the person after whom he was named used
all of these variations, or at least were referred to by all of them."
The Hebrew given name Binyamin had a number of Yiddish kinuim which were
attached to the Hebrew name, such that they were to be written together in
legal Jewish papers (like a Get, Ketuva, etc.). Some of these Yiddish
kinuim were: Benya, Beynesh, Beynush, Bunami, Bunem, Bunma, Volf, and Wolf.
Usually, in the home, Jewish community, and frequently in non-Jewish
environments the Yiddish names were used between people, rather than the
Hebrew names. Perhaps this was because Jews had a reverence for Hebrew
names and the Hebrew Language in general, and it was felt that one should
use this holy tongue (Lashon Kodesh) only for holy matters. In addition,
there was a rabbinic dictum which stated that one must never spell (in
Hebrew) Hebrew names (like Avraham, Yitschak, Miryam, etc.) in any way
which differs >from their spelling in the Tanach.
In effect, Yiddish and Yiddish names became a loazi (secular) language and
secular names, and they were treated as such by Jews. In other words,
Yiddish names and secular names (like the German names Albert, Alfred,
etc.) obeyed the same regulations written in Hilchot Gitin law books.
These restrictions did not hold for surnames, and in general Jews were free
to adopt such names as they wished to adopt, subject to some limitations
which were placed on them by some civil authorities.
Professor G. L. Esterson, Ra'anana, Israel