Re: Genealogy Question #lithuania


In a message dated 2/9/2007 11:02:57 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
sallybru@... writes:

<< Moses ben Maimon was called Maimonides, but neither Maimon nor
Maimonides was a family name. His father was Maimon. His son would
have been called Abraham (or whatever) ben Moses. There were no
surnames back then, and certainly little likelihood of tracing your
family back that far. >>

==Very true, up to a point. Sefardi Jews (i.e. those in the Hispanic
Peninsula) frequently did have family names that were transmitted for a number of
generations. Among German Jews, that phenomenon, by no means widespread,
started appearing in the 14th century.

<< The name Marum runs in my family, and I have seen an article saying
that this name was used by descendents of Meir of Rothenberg. But
there isn't any way to know. >>

==A little confusion here between the first name, the kinnuy, and the family
name. Me'ir is a Hebrew name, meaning "enlightener." Rabbi Meir ben Baruch
of Rothenburg (1215-1293), was the rabbinical authority of his time among
Ashkenasim. Like many illustrious rabbis he is popular known by an acronym.
Maimonides is commonly referred to among Jews as RaMBaM (Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon).
Meir of Rothenburg is known as MaHaRaM (Moreinu haRav Meir = Our Teacher,
Rabbi Me'ir).

==in Southern Germany, boys named Me'ir (Maier, Meier etc) were given the
kinnuy Maharam in his honor. This soon became slurred into Marum as a common
kinnuy for Me'ir. Marum in no way suggests or implies descent >from the Maharam.

== The Maharam's descendants were renowned for their wisdom and sagacity. It
is most unlikely that Sally is descended >from the Maharam; what she is
telling us, in effect, is that the first name Me'ir was common in her family and
that some of these men were known by their kinnuy, Marum.

==When Ashkenasim were required by law to take surnames, many chose their
patronymic as surname. The popularity of the Hebrew name Me'ir can be deduced
from the fact that Meyer in its variant spellings was the most popular Jewish
surname in the mid-1800's, and it accounted for 2% of the 10,000 Jewish
soldiers killed in the German army in WW 1. (In fact, Meyer in its various
spellings was the 4th most common surname among German gentiles in 1970.) I doubt
very much that any of these was a descendant of the Maharam.

<< Actually, in a millenium, it is likely that everybody is descended >from a
certain person or that nobody is.>>
==I'm not quite sure what my response has to do with a millennium, but I
would assume that everybody alive today is descended >from not just one certain
person, but >from a few thousand diverse persons. My Hebrew name is Me'ir (not
Marum) and I can actually name (by looking into my family tree) hundreds of
folk >from whom I'm descended. My earliest traced ancestor was surnamed Mainzer,
before 1420; my pgm's pgm was named Kaehle Mainzer.

Michael Bernet, New York

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