First Came "Retroactive Samification" and Now Comes... #general


Meron Lavie
 

A while back, I wrote a positing here about the insidious, pernicious
phenomenon of "Retroactive Samification" - meaning that some ancestor who
never stepped foot out of his native shtetl had his name listed as "Sam"
by his immigrant descendants on documents in the US (name of deceased's
father on a death certificate, etc.). Sadly, I must admit that even my own
great-great-grandfather was the unwitting victim of retroactive
Samification on multiple occasions.

Well, I knew that I had a great grandfather whose name was Schleime Meyer
KOLMAN >from the Ukraine, who arrived in New York in the early 20th century.
In the US, he was known as "Sam". I could never find his Ellis Island
records, which surprised me as I could find all his relatives who came in
that same time frame. Of course, I was looking only for Schleime Meyer
KOLMAN.

One day, while amusing myself during a particularly vapid meeting at work
by trolling one of the genealogy sites, I ran into Ellis Island records
for a Samuel KOLMAN. All the details seemed to fit my great-grandfather,
except for the fact that the first name was not Schleime Meyer, but rather
Samuel. After all, he would only have changed his name to Sam/Samuel in
the States.

And then it dawned on me.

I may have just discovered...
...
... Proactive Samification!

By that, I mean that perhaps my great-grandfather already took the name
Samuel in advance of his arrival in the US, maybe because he came through
Scotland and it was just easier giving "Samuel" to the Scottish clerk who
registered him? Can you even imagine hearing "Schleime Meyer" in a heavy
brogue?

I would be interested in hearing if there are any similar stories of
people who experienced Proactive Samification, and perhaps even start a
support group for their families.

Meron LAVIE
Oranit, Israel


Jules Levin
 

At 10:31 AM 7/16/2012, Meron LAVIE wrote:
...I may have just discovered...
... Proactive Samification!

By that, I mean that perhaps my great-grandfather already took the name
Samuel in advance of his arrival in the US, maybe because he came through
Scotland and it was just easier giving "Samuel" to the Scottish clerk who
registered him? Can you even imagine hearing "Schleime Meyer" in a heavy
brogue?

I would be interested in hearing if there are any similar stories of
people who experienced Proactive Samification, and perhaps even start a
support group for their families.
For better or worse, there is a false assumption going on here, namely,
that in the old country the Jews lived in a splendid authentic original
Yiddish subculture, and only became assimilated in the New World.
Assimilation was going on rapidly in Russia and all its territories, and
many Jews were very familiar with the Russian and German equivalents of their
Hebrew names, and were not reluctant to use them.

My gf was Yehudah, but was already familiar with Julius and may have already
been using it. The Russian Samuil was known by Jews, and they didn't have
to go to Scotland to learn it. A Scottish clerk hearing "Samuil" would have
written "Samuel" without thinking he was changing the name. Moshe was
already Mauritz in fancy German-speaking households, and only then became
Morris in America. I'll need to see better evidence for Samification
before I believe in it.

Jules Levin
Los Angeles