Was Ira Jewish? #general


MBernet@...
 

In a message dated 8/2/2003 9:55:23 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
sallybru@wdcunet.net very gracious acknowledged an unfortunate
misunderstanding, in a previous message

<< Well, I learned something today. I have extracted many Polish and
Lithuanian records for different towns and had never seen the name Ira.
I didn't know it was a Yiddish name or a Hebrew name as various people
have pointed out-or that it was in the Bible.

She continues with:
However, it was certainly not a common Hebrew/Yiddish name in the areas
I am familiar with, and I would stick by the point of my previous
posting:
it was probably an 'American' version of some more common
Hebrew/Yiddish name made up for someone who never was in the US. >>

No, Ira has never been as popular a name among Jews as Isaac or Jacob.
Anyone not fully aware of the genealogy and history of that area can
certainly be excused for not knowing that it was recorded in the areas of
greater Russia (incl Poland and Podolia) as early at 1765.

Sally's last assumption that Ira "was probably an 'American' version"
is difficult to support. True, there was Ira Gershwin in America, but he
was Jewish. There have been some 19th century non-Jews named Ira who were
born in the USA, notably Ira Remsen, co-inventor of saccharine, and Ira
Frederick Aldridge, a Black actor famous for tragic roles--but he lived
mostly in Europe (and, coincidence? died in Lodz).

Ira became an "American" name only after it became popular with the
influx of Jewish immigrants >from Eastern Europe.

The Random House Dictionary lists Ira as "a male given name: >from a
Hebrew word meaning 'watchful'. That would be spelled with an initial
`ayin, not with the initial aleph as is the East European Jewish name
derived >from Uri. (Beider also gives an Ira with the `ayin initial.)

To claim that a Jew in Eastern Europe who was called Ira, and never came
to the USA, actually had a different name in the old country and that an
American relative simply "Americanized" his name to Ira, would be akin to
claiming that Michael could not be a Jew and is really an Irishman living
in Dublin, or that Sally's name must have been imposed on her
retroactively by a relative living in Salonika.

Ira was a Jewish name in Europe in the 18th and 19th century. There can
be no doubt about that. There is no need or reason to suppose it was
really an American name imposed retroactively on his ancestor by some
Jewish immigrant in the USA who couldn't think of a better name.

Michael Bernet, New York


Ira Leviton
 

Dear Group,

Regarding the recent exchange about the name Ira:

<< It was certainly not a common Hebrew/Yiddish name ... it was probably an
'American' version of some more common Hebrew/Yiddish name made up for
someone who never was in the US. >>

and

<< Ira was a Jewish name in Europe in the 18th and 19th century. There can
be no doubt about that. There is no need or reason to suppose it was
really an American name imposed retroactively on his ancestor by some
Jewish immigrant in the USA who couldn't think of a better name. >>

My response is: as with all names, it all depends on the type and
source of documentation, and what was meant by "probably" above.
Considering the very uncommon (rare) frequency of the name Ira in Europe,
there certainly is a chance that it was a guessed "backtranslation" --
maybe even a good chance -- but it also may have been the person's real
name. There is no certainty in this situation, other than to be uncertain
without the man's birth record. As with all "facts" in the field of
genealogy, the source document determines the accuracy. If it says Ira on
an individual's birth document, then it's a certainty his name was Ira --
although he still may have changed it later. But if it says Ira on the
line for "father's name" on his child's death certificate 120 years after
"Ira" was born, maybe his name was Ira, maybe it was Isaac, and maybe it
was Joe. That's one of the many reasons we pursue documents >from the
other side of the world. How many times have we obtained a document for a
relative with a name like Yakov or Rochel just to find out that the real
name was different than expected? Or at least spelled differently?

By the way, it dawned on me that one of the reasons that Ira may have a
rare name in Eastern Europe is because it ends with an "a" -- a feminine
ending. When I write to the state Archives in Poland, I always get
addressed as "Mrs." on their return letters (although I have been called
worse...) Of course, it may have been unpopular long before we reached
Eastern Europe (which is my gut feeling).

I'm enjoying all this attention, but I also think we've discussed my
name enough. Given its rarity, I don't think too many people are that
fascinated with it, although the general genealogical principles certainly
apply.

Ira Leviton
New York, N.Y.
searching for LEWITAN (Myszyniec and Rypin, Pol.), NIEDOBITEK (Rypin,
Pol.), RAPHAN/REPHEN/REPHAN/REBHUN (Ropczyce and Rzemien area, Pol.),
BLANK (Ropczyce, Debica, Mala, and Niedzwiada area, Pol.), KORN (Ropczyce
and Gorlice area, Pol.), ATLAS/ATLASS (Wien/Vienna, Austria)


Stan Goodman <safeqSPAM_FOILER@...>
 

On Tue, 5 Aug 2003 18:42:08 UTC, iraleviton@yahoo.com (Ira Leviton)
opined:

Dear Group,

Regarding the recent exchange about the name Ira:

<< It was certainly not a common Hebrew/Yiddish name ... it was probably
an 'American' version of some more common Hebrew/Yiddish name made up
for someone who never was in the US. >>

It is not a "Hebrew/Yiddish name" at all, whatever that may be, but a
Hebrew name.

--------snip-------

By the way, it dawned on me that one of the reasons that Ira may have a
rare name in Eastern Europe is because it ends with an "a" -- a feminine
ending. When I write to the state Archives in Poland, I always get
addressed as "Mrs." on their return letters (although I have been called
worse...) Of course, it may have been unpopular long before we reached
Eastern Europe (which is my gut feeling).
The gender confusion on the part of 20th century Poles results >from
the fact that they speak an Indo-European language that tends to end
feminine names with "A", and they write in Latin characters.
Polish/Russian Jews in most of the 19th century, and certainly in the
18th, would have thought of the name in its Hebrew spelling: 'Ayin Yod
Resh Alef, which carries no feminine marker at all.

I am not sure how to assess the attitude toward a name as of 500 or
1000 years ago. My gut gives me no clue.

--
Stan Goodman, Qiryat Tiv'on, Israel

Searching:
NEACHOWICZ/NOACHOWICZ, NEJMAN/NAJMAN, SURALSKI: >from Lomza Gubernia
ISMACH: >from Lomza Gubernia, Galicia, and Ukraina
HERTANU, ABRAMOVICI, LAUER: >from Dorohoi District, Romania
GRISARU, VATARU: >from Iasi, Dorohoi, and Mileanca, Romania

See my interactive family tree (requires Java 1.1.6 or better):
http://www.hashkedim.com

Please remove the CAPITAL LETTERS >from my address in order to send me
email, and include "JEWISHGEN" in the subject line, else your message
will be deleted automatically, unread.


Elise Teitelbaum <eliseteitelbaum@...>
 

b's'd
Shalom everyone,
I for one am enjoying this thread, especially because my brother, of
blessed memory, was named "Joseph Ira".

Does anyone remember a Yosef Yira Hecht on the radio? My personal theory
is that the name "Ira" is really pronounced "Yira", which would be the
Hebrew word for "fear", as in "fear of heaven".

Elise Teitelbaum
eliseteitelbaum@hotmail.com

I'm enjoying all this attention, but I also think we've discussed my
name enough. Given its rarity, I don't think too many people are that
fascinated with it, although the general genealogical principles certainly
apply.


Robert Israel <israel@...>
 

In article <140.16af90e2.2c6027a3@aol.com>, <MBernet@aol.com> wrote:

In a message dated 8/2/2003 9:55:23 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
sallybru@wdcunet.net very gracious acknowledged an unfortunate
misunderstanding, in a previous message
<< Well, I learned something today. I have extracted many Polish and
Lithuanian records for different towns and had never seen the name Ira.
I didn't know it was a Yiddish name or a Hebrew name as various people
have pointed out-or that it was in the Bible.
No, Ira has never been as popular a name among Jews as Isaac or Jacob.
Anyone not fully aware of the genealogy and history of that area can
certainly be excused for not knowing that it was recorded in the areas of
greater Russia (incl Poland and Podolia) as early at 1765.
For some statistics, I tried entering "Ira" in the Global Text Search
of Jewishgen's All Poland Database at
<http://www.jewishgen.org/databases/Poland/>. It found
1 entry in the Brest Ghetto Passport Archive
4 in the Index of 1890 and 1891 NY Immigrants >from Austria, Poland and
Galicia (of which 2 were for Ira as a last name)
1 in the JewishGen Yizkor Book Necrology Database (Poland)
2 in the Lwow Ghetto
1 in Borislav-Drohobycz Delinquent Water Bills 1941-1942
5 in Pinkas HaNitzolim II
1 in Czestochowa Forced Laborers
3 in Galician Forced Laborers >from Lviv (but referring to the same person)

and several for burial records in various US states and US State
Department files. Note that the only 19th century records were two
NY Immigrants.

For comparison, "Ida" had 694 total matches excluding the US burials and
US State Department files.

So it appears that although the name Ira did exist in Poland, it was rare
there, and very rare before the 20th century.

Sally's last assumption that Ira "was probably an 'American' version"
is difficult to support. True, there was Ira Gershwin in America, but he
was Jewish. There have been some 19th century non-Jews named Ira who
were born in the USA, notably Ira Remsen, co-inventor of saccharine, and
Ira Frederick Aldridge, a Black actor famous for tragic roles--but he
lived mostly in Europe (and, coincidence? died in Lodz).
Other early American Iras include Ira Allen, 1751-1814, younger brother
of the more famous Ethan Allen and an important figure in the history of
Vermont, and Ira David Sankey, 1840-1908, composer of gospel music.

Robert Israel israel@math.ubc.ca
Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z2


Udi Cain
 

Elise Teitelbaum eliseteitelbaum@hotmail.com wrote:

b's'd
Shalom everyone,
I for one am enjoying this thread, especially because my brother, of
blessed memory, was named "Joseph Ira".

Does anyone remember a Yosef Yira Hecht on the radio? My personal theory
is that the name "Ira" is really pronounced "Yira", which would be the
Hebrew word for "fear", as in "fear of heaven".

=As far as I can recall, "Yira" is not a name.
Ira, I think, is of Aramaic origin, and maybe means the Hebrew Ayir =
donkey-foal.

Best regards,
Udi Cain, Jerusalem


MBernet@...
 

In a message dated 8/6/2003 12:27:39 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
safeqSPAM_FOILER@hashkedim.com writes:

<< I am not sure how to assess the attitude toward a name as of 500 or
1000 years ago. My gut gives me no clue. >>

==I'm not sure that in Eastern Europe in the 19th/20th the name was
spelled centuries `ayin yod resh aleph (which is Biblical) or aleph yod
resh heh(which would be appropriate if it's a Yiddish adaptation of the
Hebrew name Uri (which Beider suggest, but for which he offers only
Russian and Polish spellings)

Michael Bernet, New York


Stan Goodman <safeqSPAM_FOILER@...>
 

On Wed, 6 Aug 2003 04:43:04 UTC, eliseteitelbaum@hotmail.com (Elise
Teitelbaum) opined:


b's'd
Shalom everyone,
I for one am enjoying this thread, especially because my brother, of
blessed memory, was named "Joseph Ira".

Does anyone remember a Yosef Yira Hecht on the radio? My personal
theory is that the name "Ira" is really pronounced "Yira", which would be
the Hebrew word for "fear", as in "fear of heaven".


That's what I thought too, until this discussion. But I find the name
in the names list of the Even-Shoshan dictionary, spelled *only* with
initial 'ayin, which removes that possibility.

--
Stan Goodman, Qiryat Tiv'on, Israel

Searching:
NEACHOWICZ/NOACHOWICZ, NEJMAN/NAJMAN, SURALSKI: >from Lomza Gubernia
ISMACH: >from Lomza Gubernia, Galicia, and Ukraina
HERTANU, ABRAMOVICI, LAUER: >from Dorohoi District, Romania
GRISARU, VATARU: >from Iasi, Dorohoi, and Mileanca, Romania

See my interactive family tree (requires Java 1.1.6 or better):
http://www.hashkedim.com

Please remove the capital letters >from my address in order to send me
email, and include "JewishGen" in the subject line, else your message
will be deleted automatically, unread.