Re: The Hebrew equivalent of Vilmos #hungary

Judy and Gary Floam <gfloam@...>

Just a further thought on this question: does the name "vilmos" have a
meaning in Hungarian? And does it have anything to do with wolves?
"Ze'ev" means wolf in Hebrew and the Yiddish-German-English counterparts to
that Hebrew name were often Wolf or William (including my father and one of
my mother's brothers).

Judy Floam
Baltimore, Md.

----- Original Message -----
From: Prof. G. L. Esterson <jerry@...>
To: H-SIG <h-sig@...>
Cc: Amos Israel Zezmer <amos.zezmer@...>
Sent: Saturday, June 17, 2006 4:14 PM
Subject: Re:[h-sig] The Hebrew equivalent of Vilmos

Amos Zezmer posted as follows:

"Would anyone know the Hebrew equivalent(s) of the given name Vilmos? Is
there anywhere on the web where one can look up secular given names and
their Hebrew equivalents?"

to which the Monitor replied as follows:

"Moderator: As countless subscribers have previously indicated, there are
no fixed Hungarian counterparts to Yiddish or Hebrew counterparts for
Hungarian names and, conversely and no fixed Yiddish or Hebrew versions of
secular Hungarian names. Those who wanted to Magyarize their shtetl names
might pick a name that sounded similar or began with the same letter but
might as easily pick a name that bore no resemblance whatsoever. Check the
Hungarian SIG archives for the many discussions that we've had on this
topic and for on-line references. Please respond off-list if you have
specific suggestions."

What the Moderator has written is correct, as far as it goes. However,
there is in fact a *linkage* made by the rabbis in Hungary between the
Hungarian secular name Vilmos and the two Hebrew names: Binyamin and
Ze'eyv. And this is pertinent to the questions of Mr. Zezmer.

The secular name Vilmos was widely used by Jews in Hungary, to the extent
that the rabbis who wrote Jewish legal tracts on the subject of the
between Hungarian (and German) secular names and these two Hebrew names,
set Jewish law as follows: If a Jew could be shown by the Divorce Rabbi
have used both the name Vilmos and the name Binyamin, then in a Jewish
contract (e.g., a Get, a Jewish divorce contract), he must be identified
(i.e., his name written) as Binyamin haMechune Vilmosh (written in Hebrew
characters, the *Yiddish* version of Vilmos being pronounced exactly like
the secular name). "haMechune" is a Hebrew legal term meaning "known as"
or "alias".

And the same was true of the two names Vilmos and Ze'eyv: Ze'eyv

So, I it is possible to answer the question posed by Amos Zezmer
positively, in the limited sense I have described. The names were not
*equivalent* but they were rather linked to their Hebrew names
statistically through their frequency of use and Jewish Law. That is, a
researcher might reasonably expect to find sometimes one, sometimes the
other, and sometimes both of the linked secular and Hebrew names in
Hungarian documents. Mr. Zezmer should be on the lookout for the given
names Binyamin and Ze'eyv (or something close to these two names, such as
Binye (a Yiddish nickname for Binyamin) or Yomi (another such Yiddish

It is also true, as the Moderator has stated, that a Jew with the name
Vilmos could also have been given at birth almost any of the other Hebrew
names which were used by Jews -- without any special linkage to them, just
low-level statistics. The names Binyamin and Ze'eyv were special in the
strong statistical connection of Vilmos to them.

In answer to the second question, the name Vilmos (and other) secular
names) can be found on the JewishGen Given Names Data Bases web site:

< >

by searching the Hungary GNDB for the name "Vilmos" using Global Plain
Search (without the quotation marks). An update to this GNDB is now in
preparation and will contain a full set of the 500 German secular names
used by Hungarian Jews as well as about 50 Hungarian secular names also
used by them.

Shavu'a tov,

Professor G. L. Esterson, Ra'anana, Israel

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