JRI Poland #Poland From Zeev to William #poland


In response to Geoff Kaiser who wondered how and why so many Jewish
men named Ze'ev in Hebrew ended up being William in English, the answer
can be found in Yiddish. In Hebrew, Ze'ev means "wolf," and the Yiddish
companion name (or calque) for Ze'ev is Volf, which also means "wolf."

In the period of great migration (1880-1920) on documents (such as ships'
passenger lists) the most common transliteration for Yiddish names was
into German, thus producing Wolf. Inasmuch as most Jewish immigrants
to English-speaking countries gave themselves English names usually that
began with the same letter as their Yiddish (or Hebrew) name, the most
common English name that began with the letter W was William. Thus we
find an entire generation (or even more than one generation) of Ze'evs
and Volfs named William (and Willy and Bill and Billie, etc).

Phillip Applebaum
Oak Park, Michigan, USA

MODERATOR'S NOTE: The question about Wilhelm/Zeev/Velvel/Wolf has been
answered by a number of researchers and therefore the thread is ended.

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