Re: What’s in a name #names

Judith Singer

Hello - 1. Bunim is a recognized name and in fact at least one illustrious rabbi was named Bunim. I don't think there is any closure on the question of whether it was a contracted nickname for Benjamin or an adopted name from the French "bon homme", good man. It often appears as the kinnui (associated given name to a particular Hebrew name) for Simcha. 

2. A patronymic name is one based on a father's first name, e.g. Zalmanson in your example. Depending on when your Levi Titchak lived, Zalman might have been his father's name, if Zalmanson was adopted directly in response to a law requiring Jews to acquire surnames (in 1804 in Russia, for example, though it took decades for many Russian Jews to conform to that law). Again, depending on when he lived, Zalman might have been a grandfather's or great-grandfather's first name.  
3. As far as I know, it was not standard practice in any location for sons to take on the surnames of the father and mothers to take the surnames of the mother. If you are working from Polish records, last names can be particularly confusing because in many cases clerks recorded the birth using the mother's name, I believe because the marriage had been only a religious ceremony and not also a civil one, but it's not consistent. Sometimes if you're lucky, a clerk will record both parents' surnames and that can help you figure out relationships.
good luck - Judith Singer

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