JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen Re: seemingly Christian given names #general

Stan Goodman <SPAM_FOILER@...>

On Sun, 16 Jul 2006 04:31:36 UTC, opined:
There are many reasons that a Jewish person might have a
Christian given name or might do a range of seemingly
un-Jewish things, despite being Jewish. In my own family,
the recent immigrant parents of my great grandmother, on one
side, and my grand mother on the other, died young. The
children improvised their up-bringing to a certain extent in
both of these families, and on one side, legally changed the
spelling of both first and last names. It's quite curious:
why would one want to change >from Dora Drozdowitz to Dorothy
Drosdowitz? It seems such a small change...
But on the other side, they took a firm departure from
Judaism, and whilst no-one married non-Jews, they practised
new religions (Christian Science), and for two generations,
no one on that branch knew anything about being Jewish, or
about Jewish practices, despite being 100% of Jewish
extraction. My own given name (of course I was born in the
50s, not the 1880s) is the most popular Catholic given name
in the world - my mother liked it - and my son's middle name
is Christian (named for a mentor of mine who died the week
of his birth).
"Practicing new religions" is indeed a "firm departure >from Judaism". It
isn't clear >from the paragraph above if you are descended on the maternal
side >from the group that did this, but if so you might be well advise d to
consult with a _competent_ rabbi before concluding that you are "100 %

As to the names, "Annemarie" is a conflation of two Hebrew names (those of
the mother and bubbe of Jesus), so it's difficult to find fault with it
despite its Catholic popularity. I remain amazed at the phenomenon of

tagging (supposedly) Jewish children with a name that means "Bearer of
Christ" or "Chistlike". Someone didn't think things through.

Not that it is unheard of in earlier history to give names of foreign gods.
The "Hebrew" name "Moshe" is Egyptian and is a nickname for a whole group of
theophoric names of the form "<name of a god>mose", where <name of a god>
might be "Ra", "Ptah", or any number of others; it is interpreted as meaning
"Son of <name of a god>". The nickname appears frequently in Egyptian

litarature. "Amos" belongs in this group too, where "Ah" is a moon god. I am not
saying that the earlier Egyptian example is an excuse for Christopher/Christine.

Before anyone responds with the bedtime-story etymology of "Moshe": The
name, were it really a Hebrew original, would have to be "Nimshe" or

"Mashui" in order to mean "He is drawn (>from the water)". "Moshe" would
have to mean "He draws (>from the water"), which can 't be made to fit the

The contemporary example of mine and my son's given names is
probably not pertinent, but the fact is I am 100% Jewish,
but my family lost much of the understanding and cultural
practices in the early 20th century in the New World.
Interestingly, we still married Jews, and knew we were
Jewish, but didn't do things the way it might have been
expectged of us.

Annemarie Jutel
Wellington, New Zealand
Stan Goodman, Qiryat Tiv'on, Israel

ISMACH: Lomza Gubernia, Galicia, and Ukraina
HERTANU, ABRAMOVICI, LAUER: Dorohoi District, Romania
GRISARU, VATARU: Iasi, Dorohoi, and Mileanca, Romania

See my interactive family tree (requires Java 1.1.6 or better). the URL is:

For reasons connected with anti-spam/junk security, the return address is
not valid. To communicate with me, please visit my website (see the URL
above -- no Java required for this purpose) and fill in the email form there.