How many "first names" did people have? #names


Peter Cohen
 

I am trying to determine if someone is who I think he is...

His gravestone says his Hebrew name was Yitzchak ben Chona and that he died in 1954 at age 84.  The Lithuanian birth record that I think is his says he was born 8 Feb 1873, son of Yeruchim. From other records, I know that this Yeruchim was Yeruchim Girsh or Yeruchim Tsvi. Is it possible that Yeruchim had 3 first names (i.e. Yeruchim Tsvi Elchanon)?

While there are several other Yitzchaks who born around 1865 - 1875 who shared the same last name (Gershater), the reason I think that Yeruchim's son is the right one is that the Isaac (Yitzchak) who died in 1954 was married to Rebecca Rotkowitz  and Yeruchim's mother was a Rotkowitz.

I have seen many instances where a NYC death certificate lists a father's name that is completely different than the Hebrew name on the gravestone, but I attribute that to first name vs middle name. But in this case is Yeruchim Tsvi a first & middle name? Or are they kinnuim? (Sadly 1954 NYC death certificates are not available to non direct descendants, so I can't see who is listed as his father.)
--
Peter Cohen
California


Adam Cherson
 

This may not apply to your fact pattern, but I have sometimes seen the patronymic style of naming, A ben B, turned into the name A B. In other words the father's given name becomes the surname of the son. In this instance, perhaps Yeruchim is Yeruchim Elkhanan (or just Chanan)  ben Tsvi Girsh, which then becomes Yeruchim Tsvi or Yeruchim GIrsh on various records, while to his family he remains known as Chona.
--
Adam Cherson


Jeremy Lichtman
 

I've frequently seen this in Polish or Lithuanian records.

People typically had two names. They were generally interchangeable (unless they only liked one of them!), which is odd to people today who are used to a first name / second name schema.

--

Jeremy Lichtman
Toronto, Canada


Judith Singer
 

Generally Eastern European Jews had two given names: a Hebrew one used mostly for religious occasions and a second one that might be Hebrew, Yiddish, or the language of the surrounding populace. Each of those two names, but particularly the second name, generally had multipile variants  such as diminutives (Tsipe, Tsipora, Tsipela, for example, seem to all the same name) and different spellings depending on transliteration. Furthermore, many pepole had nicknames that might refer to a physical characteristic or occupation, for example, that were used in place of or in addition to the second name Nicknames might have been used as surnames within the Jewish community, but Russian law under the Tsars required that a family choose one name and retain it permanently (a law often ignored).

 

During times of deadly plagues, some parents changed the names of their children to confuse Death.

So in Eastern Europe, it was not unusual for people to end up with three or four names used as given names.

When our ancestors emigrated, many began to use a Western European (usually English) version of their names for interactions with the goyim but retained their original names within their Jewish community. The Western European version of the name was also subject to change at whim. (One relative of mine used the names Etta, Edith, Ethel, Yetta and I think a couple others after arriving in the U.S.)

So, three or four given names was not the norm but it was not unusual, for a variety of reasons.

JewishGen has a couple good articles on this question. 

Good luck - Judith Singer

 


Judy Floam
 

And sometimes they just changed their names.  I have three aunts who were given the names Lena, Bertha and Tillie, and changed them to Leona, Beatrice and Lillian, respectively.

 

Judy Floam

Baltimore, MD


Alex Magocsi
 

I have an issue related to this topic.  It concerns the family name GREIF from Fulyán HU, now Fulianka SK.

At time of his birth, the Mother of Herman Greif (born abt. Oct 1862 in Fulyán) is shown as Rivka Schneider.

Upon his marriage in NYC, the Mother of Ignatz Greif (born abt. Jul 1859 in Fulyán) is shown as Lina Schneider
Upon his death in NYC, the Mother of said Ignatz is shown as Regina Schneider.

On each of the transcribed documents, the Father's name is Josef, or some form thereof.

My gut feeling is that the names Rivka and Regina could be interchangeable but the switch from Lina to Regina is throwing me off and I hope someone will comment on these names.
I have not seen actual certificates but rather transcriptions.

Regards
Alex Magocsi
Hamburg Germany


Sally Bruckheimer
 

My ggrandmother was one of 20 children born to a couple in a tiny town. In the birth records, her mother's name was listed differently on each one. My ggrandmother was usually Rachel (also one of her mother's names), but on her marriage record in NYC, she was Regina (a sister's birth name and also her mother's name on a different record).

It isn't just women. Her husband was born Baruch in Amsterdam, grew up as Barnett in London, and lived in New York as Bernard. Obviously his Hebrew name was Baruch, but whatever else was common - usage was fine.

Sally Bruckheimer
Princeton, NJ


Paweł Tomaszewski
 

Hi,

I think that all problems are due to the reading of handwriting names. It is possible to read “a” instead of “e” and vice versa,  “n” instead of “u”, “k” instead of “h” or even “lc”, “c” instead of “e”, etc. All “version” of “Baruch” can be explained by such misinterpretation.

Best regards,

Pawel Tomaszewski

 

 


Peter Cohen
 

You often see people named Rochel Leah. Rivka Leah is not particularly common, but not impossible. (Leah often becomes Lena.)
--
Peter Cohen
California