Re: Jewish naming practices - "the second" #germany


In a message dated 10/29/2006 vogelko@... writes:
"I came across a grave in Germany (which may or may not be of my
great-great-grandfather) where the name was "Leopold Vogel II". The
individual was clearly >from a somewhat religious background as the grave
also included traditional Hebrew inscription. If this was indeed my
ancestor, he was probably Orthodox.
Yesterday, I received >from Alex Calzareth (thanks again, Alex!) a probate
record, regarding another ancestor, who was most definitely Orthodox and he
too is referred to as "Lazarus Isaak II".
My question is - was it accepted for Orthodox Jews to be referred to, with
the appendage "II" ("the second")? In what circumstances? I can understand
it perhaps being so in an official document, but would this also be
demonstrated on a headstone? Would this indicate that the individual was
named after an ancestor with the same name? If so - then I would think that
there would be quite a few "II"s, since many Jews were named after
ancestors. Has anyone else come across this?" ========>

How about Oscar Hammerstein I (1847E280931919) and his grandson, Oscar II
(1895 E28093 1960)?

OK, neither was Orthodox, and the younger got his name while his Opa still
had 24 years of life in front of him.

"Modernization," aka "reform," aka "emancipation," aka many other terms,
was a complicated issue for Jews in Europe >from about 1830 to 1930. Trying on
the German or "universal" model did not necessarily always imply a departure
from religious laws and customs. The Orthodox congregations in Germany were
also feverish innovators, >from sermons in German, bible- and
prayerbook-translations in German, trimmed beard, translations, Zilinderhut
(top hat) required to be called to read the Torah, rabbis with neatly
trimmed beard, -- even in the most Orthodox of synagogues.

Many who were not strictly observant were members of an Orthodox
synagogue--sometimes by choice, preference, nostalgia . . .

And certainly, many of the non-Orthodox cherished Jewish customs and
symbols, if only out of respect to more observant members of the family. If you
look around you at the non-Jewish majority in the USA, at holiday songs and
celebrations, at weddings, christenings and tombstones, you will find religious
symbols, wording and invocations observed even by those who have little
connection with the strictures of their faith.

When I was a little kid in Germany, my father occasionally introduced me
to clients and colleagues as "Herr Bernet, Junior" or "Herr Bernet II." They
smiled, I was proud, my dad was even prouder. I have a vague impression that
the "II" was used in a firm or family to indicate a member of a younger
generation who had the same name as an elder (e.g. a nephew).

In short, it's difficult to judge a person's level of Orthodox conduct
based on customs or inscriptions alone, and oral transmission is probably not
always an accurate guide. My paternal gm was extremely Orthodox (Frankfurt's
A.R.Hirsch congregation); my pgm MAIER probably was not until perhaps shortly
before his marriage--none of his 8 siblings was--and his tombstone was
obviously dictated by someone who didn't even know his father's Hebrew name
or that he was a Levite, yet the stone bore some very noble and poetic Hebrew
sentiments (very likely carved by a non-Jewish stonemason >from a sample book).

I assume the siblings took care of his stone. The separatist Orthodox synagogue
to which my father and my gm went had not yet been completed. And he died
suddenly >from a stroke leaving a widow with three children aged 6 to 8 who
either was too distracted or was not allowed to participate in the selection
of the inscription.

As you see, what goes on a tombstone can differ >from a person's specific
degree of ritual observance or religious knowledge.

Michael Bernet, New York MBernet@...

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