Re: GINSBURG of St. Petersburg #general

Alan Ehrlich

I received a direct email inquiry asking whether Meir Zurich d.1345 (mentioned below) was from the Swiss city of Zurich.

Since others might also be wondering, I reproduce my reply herewith:

I have not found many details about Meir Zurich’s Life. However, in general, ‘in olden times’ where ever we see a Jew referred to by a place name, it was because he/his predecessors previously had lived there.


In fact, clearly, this was either a ‘Beiname’ ‘Übername’ or ‘Mitname’ (which ever you prefer: copy/paste into for a translation) to allow other people in their surroundings to distinguish between them and like-named persons... or else a sort of living ‘curriculum vitae’ to render evident who, what and where from the particular person or their family had come.


I have a large number of such early family names in my tree, and you may too: e.g., Öttingen, Ries, Wiener, Günzburg, Spanier... and the list goes on for many pages. In every single case, this was the location where the person or family previously had lived, but subsequently were living outside of. Therefore, I feel confident that Meir Zurich originally lived in Zürich.


You may enjoy reading the source where, many years ago, I initially learned about Meir Zurich and some of his descendants:


Friendly regards,



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