German SIG #Germany Re: Questions about Jewish culture #germany

Roger Lustig

You can ask just about anything here. This is a group of people doing
research on German Jews, not a group of German Jews doing research.

Uncle/niece marriage is unusual in my experience, but there's a case of
it in my extended kinship (early 19thC). The only effect I know of and
that crops up with regularity is widespread confusion among later
generations of genealogists; beyond that I don't know where one would
get modern data for such a study. Such marriages are legal in many
places, but probably not widespread anywhere that reliable vital data
across multiple generations can be found. You're right, though: in
terms of kinship/genetic distance, uncle/niece and aunt/nephew marriages
are between sibling and first-cousin marriages.

As to naming conventions: the rule among Ashkenazim (German and Eastern
European Jews) generally pertains only to ancestors. Given the size of
families back then, one would run out of names pretty quickly if one had
to come up with a different one for each member of a set of cousins, for
instance. So someone named Abraham could well have had a nephew with
the same name.

Especially in the period surrounding surname-adoption (i.e., 1790s to
1850s, say) but also before and after, one runs into Jews with Hebrew
names unrelated to their civil names, even if those civil names are
Biblical. For instance, my 3g-gfather Salomon LUSTIG could have named a
son Salomon/Schlomo because his Hebrew name was Nathaniel. (He didn't,
as it happens.) Another 3g-gf, Salomon TROPLOWITZ, had a father who
appeared in many documents as Salomon Jacob T. Only when we found the
elder man's burial record did we discover that his name was actually
Scholim. In both cases, the likeliest explanation is that they chose
civil names that the authorities and neighbors would be familiar with
and would have little trouble spelling or saying. Welcome aboard!

Roger Lustig Princeton, NJ Research co-ordinator, GerSIG

On 8/8/2010 9:46 PM, Christine Crawford-Oppenheimer wrote:
Although my husband's great-grandfather, Leo OPPENHEIMER, was Jewish,
he married a Christian, and so the family isn't Jewish. I'm hoping
that it is allowed for me to ask questions on this list about Jewish
culture, especially as it affects genealogy.

So, I have two questions.
1) In reading materials about Jim's ancestors, I'm finding on a
regular basis that a man in Germany in the 1700s married his brother's
daughter, his niece. Although I understand that marriage of first
cousins is now legal in many places, and has only a slight risk of
enhancing genetic problems, uncle/niece marriage seems more
problematic, and I think is illegal most places now. Has anyone done
any studies about the effects of uncle/niece marriage?

2) It's my understanding that Jews don't name a child after a living
relative. So Simeon b. Abraham wouldn't name a son Abraham until after
his father is dead. Can Simeon's son Moses name a child after his
*grandfather* Abraham even if his *brother* Abraham is still alive, or
would he not name a child Abraham unless his brother was also
deceased? Again, the context is Germany, ca. 1700s and earlier. I have
found it's much easier to get death dates than birth dates, and
knowing the possibilities for naming would be useful in figuring out
the limits for birth dates.

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