David Fielker <david@...>
My mother was Alice, but on her ketubah her name in Hebrew is written
ayin-lamed-kuf-aleph, and I have always read this as Elka.
Now, was the Ayin-Yod-Lamed-Yod-Kuf-Aleph on the gravestone found by Steve
Stein a Yiddish spelling of this, or does Hebrew spelling suffer >from the
same variations that English transliterations do?
This raises a more general problem about Hebrew names, which in
post-emigration times were probably subject to the same random choices that
transliterations underwent in the opposite direction, when immigrants chose
English-sounding first names.
My father was Nathan, son of Solomon, who was known in the family as Solly.
One would think that on his ketubah he would be Nathan ben Shlomo. However,
he is Nachman ben Sender, samech-ayin-nun-daleth-resh, Sender being my
grandfather Solly's civic Russian name. Sender's own ketubah spells it
samech-nun-daleth-resh, omitting the ayin.
My great-grandfather was Nachum, and is described thus on his tombstone;
however, on my grandfather's ketubah the name becomes Menachem. My
grandmother was Deborah, but instead of the Hebrew for this she is called
Toiva or Toiba - tet-vav-yad-beth-aleph, which looks more Yiddish than
All these ketuboth were for marriages in London, and the synagogue scribes
were even more careless about the spelling of English surnames. I suspect
that their spelling was dubious in either language.