abbreviation v is for vel non #galicia

Suzan Wynne <srwynne@...>

The abbreviation "v," commonly found in Galician records about Jewish
events, stands for vel non, a Latin legal term, which means "or not" or
"alternatively." This Latin term was adapted >from the Latin that was
commonly used for recording Jewish and non-Jewish vital events in Galicia
until 1877 when the government authorized the kehillot to be responsible for
collecting and maintaining Jewish births, marriages (civil), and deaths.

The abbreviation was used when the parents of the individual had not had the
required civil marriage or when the individual him or herself had not had
the required civil marriage. It applied to a man as well as a woman. The
individual's surname was styled with both the surname of the mother and the
father or used to show the woman's "maiden" name and the religiously married
name. This styling is seen more in birth and marriage records than death
records. I've also seen it in marriage records for the parents of the bride
and groom! Now, that registrar must have been a real stickler for
correctness! Indeed, not every registrar employed this styling. It seems to
be more common among non-Jewish registrars in small places.

A word of explanation on that last point is in order. After 1877, there were
more or less 73 Jewish districts (kehillot) and most had subdistricts. Each
district was to employ Jewish registrars with tax funds collected by the
kehilla. These registrars were nominated by the elected kehilla leaders and
officially appointed by the government. The government issued regulations
for the registrars to follow in collecting and maintaining vital records.
The regulations attempted to cover pretty much all situations and
exceptions. I have the original German regulations and the English
translation of them. Every Jew, by law, came under the jurisdiction of a
kehilla for a wide array of purposes. Every town and village in Galicia was
part of a Jewish district/kehilla. However, for practical and financial
reasons, not all registrars, in all the tiny places where Jews lived, were
Jewish. That would have been prohibitively expensive for the district
kehilla to support. Therefore, Jews could and did register their events in
such small places with non-Jewish registrars, who were compelled, by law, to
submit the information to the district kehilla.

Suzan Wynne
Silver Spring, MD

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