Prof. G. L. Esterson <jerry@...>
firstname.lastname@example.org posted as follows:
"I'm wondering what the history of the forename "Benno" is. Is it
a diminutive of Benjamin? Is it specifically Jewish?"
The given name Benno is a German secular name. However it was
used by Jews in Germany during the nineteenth century to the extent
that it was recognized by the rabbis as a valid name for writing in
a Get (Jewish divorce document) as a secular kinui. Furthermore,
German Jews with almost any Hebrew name adopted this German name
as a secular kinui, so that if a Jewish male had the Hebrew name
Shlomo and the secular name Benno, his name would be written in a
Get as "Shlomo hamechune Beno". If his Hebrew name was Binyamin,
his name would be written in a Get as "Binyamin hamechune Beno".
This would of course be written in Hebrew characters, not in Latin
So, while the name Benno was not specifically a Jewish name, it was
used by German (and Polish and Hungarian) Jews in their contacts
with non-Jews and was formally recognized for this use by the rabbis
who wrote Hilchot Gitin books. The name Benno was not formally
linked to the Hebrew name Binyamin, although it could have been used
by a Jew with that name.
Prof. G. L. Esterson, Ra'anana, Israel