Father and son with same given name.i have xome across #belarus #poland #general


Hi all,

I have come across two instances now of a son having the same given name as the father. In both cases I do not know when the father passed. One is from present day Belarus from the late 19th century, the other is from present day Poland from the early 19th century. I’m assuming that the father passed away before the child was born, but has anyone else ever heard of another possible reason? 

Thank you,
Steve Buzil

BUZILA and KILYAN from present day Moldova  
GRUBER and FEINGOLD from present day Ukraine
PORTNOY, GERSHON and OFSAIOF/OVSAIOVICH from present day Lithuania
MNUSHKIN and KOLVARACHIK from present day Belarus
EISENSTEIN and ZALIO from present day Romania

Linda Lang

Many people in my Broude family (Brodie) from the Grodno region were named for living relatives. The only conclusion I could draw was they lived for many generations on a tiny farm. There was no Rabbi or shul within walking distance so it may just have been done out of ignorance. When my grandparents moved to Canada my grandfather wanted to give me my mother's name and the Rabbi was horrified and told him he could not do that. Maybe this will help you.


Hi Steve, The custom of not naming children after living relatives is only in Ashkenazi circles. Many Sephardic Jews commonly give names of living parents to their children.
I am not familiar with surnames from Moldova (despite having ancestry in Kishinev), but to me your last name BUZILA sounds like it could have Sephardic origins.  I believe there were relatively large numbers of Sephardim in the more South Eastern parts of Europe like Bulgaria, Romania,and up to Moldova. I don't know how the families in Poland and Belarus are related but is it possible that there was some sephardic heritage there too. 
Just raising the possibility even if it's unlikely.
Binyamin Kerman
Baltimore MD


In some families, whether Ashkenazic or Sephardic, I know of father and son having the same name in today's world, with Jr. and Sr. being used.  Very Americanized!


My father  and his father have the same name.  In his case the grandfather passed away very close to his father's death. My father's name Abraham was changed to Aron and so it appears on all documents. (Just another explanation)

Miriam Bulwar David-Hay

A couple of other possibilities I have myself encountered:

1. A simple clerical error in which the officiating clerk erroneously repeated the father’s name as the son’s (or vice versa). The father and witnesses didn’t necessarily (maybe couldn’t) read through the document to check its accuracy. I have seen that a couple of times. Usually you’ll be able to clear that up if you can find the son’s marriage or death record, or the father’s death record, or sometimes even the BMD records of any siblings. 

2. Similar looking names that may be misread if not written clearly and looked at carefully, but that are not in fact the same name, e.g. Srul and Szmul, Szlama and Szulim, Ber and Berek, Gersz (in Russian documents standing in for Hersz) and Gerszon, Icek and Josek, Nuchim and Nachman, are all names I have personally seen mistakenly indexed/transcribed as each other. So take a good look at the original documents to see if that may be the situation.

As you noted, Ashkenazi Jews in late 19th century/early 20th century Poland/Russia would not have named a son the same name as his father, unless the father had died. 

Best of luck,
Miriam Bulwar David-Hay,
Raanana, Israel.


I always wondered why my father - Harold, had the virtually the same name as his grandfather - Harry, who was alive when my father was born. When I did eventually ask him about it he replied emphatically NO! they didn't have the same name at all! His grandfather was Chaim and he was Herschel (which was news to me as never had I heard him called Herschel)! He then explained another thing I had always wondered about - why his Hebrew name was Tzvi, which didn't seem to me to have any relation to Harold. Tzvi, as I now know, is the Hebrew equivalent to Herschel, meaning deer or gazelle). My father was born in Canada and I think was named Harold for his other grandfather who was Herschel - actually Chaim Hersch just to confuse matters more.
Even so, in Romanian records, his Harry grandfather is Sender with no middle name recorded and in fact, had a son named Chaim who died as an infant. So, maybe Harry/Chaim was just a name he took in Canada.