JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen Re: Why did Jews slavicize their last names? #general

Stan Goodman <sheol@...>

On Mon, 21 Sep 1998 15:32:01, (David Goldman) 'llowed:

-> I have wondered whether any studies have been done to explain why certain
-> Jewish communities or families slavicized their original Germanic Jewish
-> last names, while others did not. Why did this happen, where and when?
-> Thus Rosen probably became Krasner, Schwartz Cherny, Apfel Yablik, etc.

1) History did not begin with all Jews concentrated in German-speaking
areas and bearing German surnames, so the question makes an assumption that
is incorrect. Many Jews were in fact in Slavic-speaking areas when the
civil authorities began to require the adoption of surnames. Previously,
like the general populations around them, Jews that had no surnames used
patronymics alone. Read e.g. Dostoevsky to see that Russians still do this
in conversation, even though they now have surnames.

2) Jews, whether in Germanic-, Slavic, French-, or English-speaking areas
often change their names when they immigrate to an area of different
language (much as do other immigrants). For the antiquity of this custom,
see the description of the change of names by Abram and Sarai upon
immigration into Canaan, which you can find in Genesis.

3) If somebody does wangle a grant to investigate the reasons that drive
people to do this, I imagine that the report will cite, among other things,
a desire to fit less conspicuously into Canaanitic, Germanic, or Slavic
society. Or indeed, simply to foster their own feeling of belonging in
their new surroundings -- which is why many have Hebraicized their
names on immigrating to Israel.

Stan Goodman
Qiryat Tiv'on

(Remove "takeout" >from domain; replace "sheol" with "stan". Sorry)

HERTANU, ABRAMOVICI, LAUER: Dorohoi District, Romania
GRISARU, VATARU: Iasi, Romania

See my interactive tree (requires Java 1.1 or better):
[You can download Java 1.1.6 >from my site, if you don't have it]

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