Re: surname adoption in Czernigow #ukraine #russia #names

Family and DNA

Thanks to Harry for this interesting & helpful response. I’d guess that the name BENIN was based on a past Benjamin in the family, but I doubt we will ever know – especially since there are very few records left from Chernihiv. I’ve heard the story from various people that one brother chose the name, & since there were no other marriages or rifts, I figure Berland was chosen pretty much at random.


I have a question about timing – is there a consensus on when folks from that area of “Russia” would have taken a surname? If I understand correctly, Jews did not originally live in Czernigow or Poltava, but would have emigrated there some time after the partitions of Poland. My GG GF Abraham Yitchak was born around 1860, if we could ever find his birth info would that have a surname? What about the birth of his father Pinkus, would he have a surname at birth, or some time afterwards?


Juliana Berland (France)



From: main@... <main@...> On Behalf Of Henry Carrey Boston,MA . Carey/Kirzhner/Berestyaner , Belous , Isenberg - Lutsk ; Postolov/Herman/Kolovsky-Zhitomir
Sent: Sunday, March 21, 2021 11:31 PM
To: main@...
Subject: Re: [] surname translation #russia #yiddish #ukraine #names


I replied to this the other day and for some reason , it never took . 

FYI the word for " bee" in Yiddish is " der bin"  . A beekeeper is a " Biner " .  "bril-YAHNT"  is one way of saying diamond in Yiddish  ( cognate of brilliant in English ) and could be the origin of the name Berland . You would have to dig into family lore to find out why they changed it to Berland . Sometimes,  people thought that families they married into had more prestigious names or sometimes there was a rift in the family or a second or third marriage . 

It is probable that as Mr. Jacobson says , it is a variant of " Benjamin , or given that it is another word with an "in" ending as is common in Russian surnames ( still could be from Benjamin,)  or could have a Hebrew derivation of some kind , or possibly could have a complicated derivation from a biblical reference to bees ( highly unlikely ) . I include the last possibility only because of Rose's recollection that it had something to do with bees.  It is more likely that the name was pronounced something like " Binin " and people thought it sounded like "Binen - bees " and came up with a " folk etymology " which is what Rose remembered . Of course , you can't overlook the possibility that Abe tinkered with the name to make it sound more Hebrew (??? ) 

I caution you against assuming that the surname has anything to do with a profession that someone had in the late 19th and early 20th centuries . First  of all , most Eastern European Jews did not take surnames until the beginning of the 19th century and and only some of them were related to professions . The fact the someone was a " painter" in the US and and a "tradesman" in Romny would not be connected to the surname their grandfathers would have taken on about a hundred years earlier . 

In sum , it is highly unlikely that the name has any connection to the profession of beekeeper and slightly less unlikely that it could have a remote biblical connection to bees just because "binen" means bees in Yiddish . 

Hope this helps . 
Henry H. Carrey



Join to automatically receive all group messages.