Sorting out Given Names #names

Brad Rubin


I have these two names from people who were born in Minsk about 1900.  Can you check my understanding of how to interpret them?

Chaim (Hebrew) Ber (Yiddish) ben reb (son of the honorable) Yehuda (Hebrew) Leib (Yiddish)

Sheina (Yiddish) Rochel (Hebrew) bat reb (daughter of the honorable) Hillel (Hebrew) HaLevi (not a name, but an indication of being a descendant of the Levite tribe)

Is there a "standard" ordering of Hebrew and Yiddish given names when both appear?  Is HaLevi here considered a name or a designation?

-- Brad Rubin


The names might have appeared in any order or only one of the two, the same for father's name.
The first person might have been known as Chaim-Ber son of Yudka-Leyb in one document, Chaim, son of Idel in another, etc.  Just an hour ago I was looking at someone's record in a census, where only one of his given names was used and his father's name was listed as Yuda-Leyb (same as the person you are asking about).  His death record 40 years later in another locality had his name written as <both names>, son of Idel-Leyb.  It's obvious it's the same person but was using slightly different Yiddish name, based on the Hebrew Yehuda.  Ber might have been written as Berko, Dov, etc  Some of the birth records, where my 2x ggmother is listed as a mother, her name is written as Sheyna, others as Sheyndlya.  I guess depends what the person who reported the birth felt like saying that day.

Also, the terms "reb" or HaLevi wouldn't be listed in the vital/census records, just on the matzevah.

Mike Vayser


In many cases the Yiddish and Hebrew names are basically translations of each other and therefore were really more interchangable, like Mike's example of Ber and Dov (both meaning bear).
In your pairs of names none are directly linked to the other, with the exception maybe of Yehudah and Leib which are paired quite often (the tribe of Judah was compared to a lion, hence Leib meaning lion on Yiddish, but a direct Hebrew translation would be the name Aryeh).
None of this actually matters much in terms of the ordering of the names or how they might be recorded in any number of combinations of names since there are no hard rules to this.  But I think it is more common to place the Yiddish name after the Hebrew one if it is a direct translation or linked to the Hebrew name (for example I don't think I've ever seen a Leib Yehuda). Since Shiena (meaning beautiful one) has no connection to the name Rochel I don't think the order is at all unusual.
Reb and HaLevi are designations.
Binyamin Kerman
Baltimore MD

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