JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen Naming traditions for boys and for girls #general


In a message dated 11/8/99 1:28:18 PM Eastern Standard Time,

<< There is no difference in the custom of naming of children between male
or female children. Yes, men are called to the Torah by their (not
necessarily Hebrew) names but a woman's name is also used to refer to her
for blessings and blessings of her children not to mention marriage papers
- ketubba -get etc. >>

It would be incorrect to say there is NO difference.

For one, the boy's Hebrew name was bestowed at the circumcision, as part of
the initiation into the Jewish people. Girls were named at a private
non-religious (in some areas actually a semi-pagan) ritual, though some
were named in the synagogue when their father was called to the Torah
Traditionally, for many centuries, in Germany at least, boys were given a
"sacred" \name and a "lay" name. Both were essential and the two were
only very rarely different forms of the same name (e.g. Shlomo/Salomon);
the same custom applied with only a few variations in other Ashkenazic communities.
Men are traditionally called to the Torah by their Hebrew names; it is only
in the last two or three decades that women have been called to the Torah
in "progressive" congregations. In some communities, ccasionally, men were
called by a variant of a Hebrew name that had attained "equivalent" standing, e.g. Zalman for Shlomo, or Ayssig for Yitzhak. More commonly
when a non-Hebrew name was used it was coupled with the Hebrew name when
men were called to the Torah.

Women were given "traditional" names, most of the time after a departed
female relative. As I look at trees of the 16th - 19th centuries, less
than 20% of the names given to women were Hebrew; others were called Anna,
Bella, Clara, Braunle, Scheine, Gitte, Frumme, Roesel, Gella . . . even
those whose name had a Hebrew origin were usually called by a local
non-Jewish variant. Thus Chava might be Chawe or Eva, Sarah might be
Saersche . . . It simply was not important in the community for women to
have a second, specifically Hebrew name--and in most cases they didn't get
one--not even the wives or daughters of illustrious rabbis. Perhaps
because of the custom among me, woem were often given a "traditional"
(non-Hewbrew) Jewish name, but were registered for civic purposes under a
local name, e.g. Scheinle might be reistered as Sonia, Frumme as Frieda.

In ketubot, the groom's Hebrew name is usually used, sometimes in tandem
with the kinnuy; the bride was referred to by the lay name she was called
by her family. As for get (divorce), this had to include EVERY name that
each of the parties had ever been known by, the Hebrew name with all
possible variations (e.g. Yeshaya, Yeshayahu) and by all the kinnuim,
non-Jewish names, diminutives and nicknames that were ever used.

You will find that until the middle of the 19th century, only a minority of
Ashkenazi women were given a specifically Hebrew name.

Michael Bernet, New York

BERNET, BERNAERTH, etc, JONDORF: Frensdorf, Bamberg, Nurnberg
Lea FEUCHTWANGER, Fuerth (1850-1919, married Moses Jonas KONIGSHOFER)
BERG, Jakob WOLF(F), (and anyone else from) Demmelsdorf, Zeckendorf
WOLFF: Pfungstadt, MAINZER: Lorsch; GOLDSCHMIDT: Hessdorf/B. Homburg

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