Jews Who Are Known By Their Non-Jewish Name

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  • #1412270
    slominer
    Participant

    I noticed that in the American Chareidi community it seems more common for girls than boys to be commonly known (even among family and friends) by a non-Jewish name (usually equivalent to their Jewish name – sometimes simply the English version). Note that it isn’t common to find use of the English name in these communities, just comparatively more common than boys. In mainstream Yeshivos you will almost never find boys called by a non-Jewish name, but in a Beis Yaakov you might find that with some students. I also noticed this with the older generation where the husband is most commonly called by his Jewish name while the wife is better known by her English name. The reverse seems much less common. You’ll have Chaim and Molly or Yanky and Debbie.

    Does anything account for this being more common with girls than boys?

    #1412277
    akuperma
    Participant

    We have often used non-Jewish names for girls to a greater extent than boys (consider such common names as Gittel, Glickel, Fruma, Tziril, Faigie, Liba etc.). It probably has to do with the fact that in Taanach there are a lot more males names than female names.

    #1412281
    slominer
    Participant

    akuperma, that’s an interesting point, ty. But in the examples I’m referring to they have both a Jewish name and a non-Jewish name/version. And in their day-to-day life they go primarily by the non-Jewish one.

    #1412533

    How many non-jews were ever given the name Fruma? Not having an origin in tanach doesn’t make a name secular.

    #1412561
    Sadigurarebbe
    Participant

    It is common is some circles to have a shem chol for goyim/legal/ business use and a shem kodesh when hanging around yidden

    #1412591
    Gadolhadorah
    Participant

    There seems to be a parallel trend to use diminutive versions of solid Hebrew names to make them sound less formal….Avrumale, Sarahle, Feigele, Just add an “ale” to any name. Just look at the names in the simcha roster here on YWN….

    #1412603
    Lubavitcher
    Participant

    לא שינו את שמם

    #1412926

    Might this have something to do with some Sefardim using English names as the primary names for girls?

    #1412982
    slominer
    Participant

    I am referring to American Chareidi Ashkenazim (non-Chasidic).

    Again I want to stress it isn’t so common to find girls in such Beis Yaakovs using English names (as their primary name) but it is seen. Unlike in boys Yeshivas where it is extremely rare. And among older married couples (also non-Chasidic American Chareidi Ashkenazim) I more often (but also a small minority) see wives going primarily by an English name than a husband.

    #1413146
    CTLAWYER
    Participant

    I’m 5th generation American and our family stretches to the 9th generation.
    From births starting in the 1880s our family gave English and Hebrew names (NOT Yiddish). The English names were for everyday use and the Hebrew names were for shul, yeshiva, day school religious ceremonies. English names were used in the house.
    When I started Day school more than 60 years ago the teacher looked at the enrollment card saw an English name that began with an ‘M’ (made up for this post) and started calling me Moyshe. I ignored the teacher. After 5 minutes I was asked if it was Mendel. I replied no. In our family our English names have no correlation to our Hebrew names…my Hebrew name is Ben Tziyon (all made up for this post). So in school I had one name and at home another.

    After 1948 some of the relatives looked for names that could be the same in Hebrew and English so we would not stand out in advanced education and the business world. An example is my sister Tamara

    #1413367
    Lilmod Ulelamaid
    Participant

    L’maaseh, it is way less common for Frum people to even have english names, and certainly to go by them, than it used to be.

    #1413365
    Lilmod Ulelamaid
    Participant

    Slominer – I don’t think I know of any Ashkenazi Bais Yaakov girls from this generation who are called by an english name. I do know Sefardi Bais Yaakov girls who go by an english name. I had just assumed that it was just as common amongst Sefardi boys, but maybe it’s not. Are you referring to Sephardim or Ashkenazim?

    If in fact it is true that it is more common amongst girls, I would guess that a boy is more likely to feel uncomfortable in a Yeshiva going by an english name, simply because a boy’s school is a “Yeshiva”, and a girl’s school is generally viewed as a “school” as opposed to a “Yeshiva”.

    #1413416
    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    FWIW, I have an English name that I use for work and a Jewish name that I use for everything else.

    Yes, by all means, tell me that I’m preventing the geulah by doing so (lo shinu at sh’mum…). You won’t be the first one.

    The Wolf

    #1413433
    Joseph
    Participant

    Wolf, you’re still carrying this mosherose complex.

    #1413445
    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    mosherose

    No, not him.

    The Wolf

    #1413638
    Avi K
    Participant

    Some English names have been “converted”. Alexander and Julius are long-time favorites (perhaps because they followed pro-Jewish policies). In my parents’ generation Sidney, Seymour, Morris and Selma were common. Many also had English equivalents or English names found in the Tanach (e.g. Abraham, Sarah, Esther, Celia, Hannah, Miriam). What is interesting is that John was not given although it is the English form of Yochanan. BTW, the Puritans also gave their children Anglicized Tanachic names. Increase and Cotton Mather were יוסף and קטן respectively. There was also Ethan (איתן) Allen. On the fiction side there is Ichabod (אי כבוד) Crane.

    #1413795
    ubiquitin
    Participant

    “Does anything account for this being more common with girls than boys?”

    A few factors do
    Morrris often gets aliyas, he probably has a tallis bag he uses daily with his name Moshe. He might introduce himself to visiting Rabbonim etc where he might feel more comfortable using Moshe. IT isnt surprising that with time Morris shifts to Moshe
    His wife Debbie on the other hand other than on her kesuba which she has tucked away somewhere likely never uses her name Devora. So it isnt at all surprising that they are now Moshe and Debbie instead of Morris and Debbie.

    I would argue though that names like Gittel, Glickel, Fruma, Tziril, Faigie, Liba and even Sidney, Seymour, Morris, Debbie while not Hebrew names are all Jewish names

    #1413821
    Yserbius123
    Participant

    The Maggid Mishna’s name was Vidal, no Hebrew name. Rav Shamshon Refoel Hirsch is another well known example. “Shamshon” is just German for “Sampson”, his Hebrew name was not Shimshon. He added the name ben Refoel to his signature after his father (Rav Refoel Hirsch) passed away presumably to give himself a more Jewish name.

    #1413957
    Joseph
    Participant

    “I would argue though that names like… Sidney, Seymour, Morris, Debbie while not Hebrew names are all Jewish names”

    So you would argue that goyim named Sidney, Seymour, Morris or Debbie have a Jewish name?

    #1414100
    zahavasdad
    Participant

    There was a famous pitcher in baseball in the early part of the 20th Century

    His name was Mordeachi “Three Fingers” Brown

    He was as Jewish as Martin Luther

    #1414103
    ubiquitin
    Participant

    “So you would argue that goyim named Sidney, Seymour, Morris or Debbie have a Jewish name?”

    Either yes they have Jewish names.
    Or they takeh don’t have Jewish names but they are a minority and whether a name is “jewish” or not is determined by the majority.

    Ketzas rayah to my lishna Kaman is Esther is obviously an inherentmy Jewish name. Aye there are goyim named esther (It’s a popikar carribean name) lechoyra those goyim have s Jewish name.

    #1414771
    yehudayona
    Participant

    There are Jewish names that non-Jews use (like Esther and Ruth) and ones that they don’t (like Basya/Batya).

    A century or so ago, Jews in the U.S. gave their children names that they thought sounded WASPish, like Irving and Sidney. So many Jews gave their children these names that they became recognized as Jewish names. I’m told that in England, a similar process occurred with surnames, whereby all the Finkelsteins became Finleys. Perhaps one of our British readers could comment on this.

    #1414932
    Avi K
    Participant

    Ubiquitin, if c’v they get divorced they get will have to include Morris (and maybe Moe, and Morrie) as well as Debbie. BTW, on his English side of his letterheads Rav Moshe was called “Moses Feinstein”.

    #1417108

    I didn’t know קטן was a name in Tanach. Where is it?

    #1417567
    Effie
    Participant

    Gittel frum Feige etc are German names period. My father’s family Yemenite Jews used only hebrew names from the Tanach with no diminutives needed and as chazal forbade such diminutives the Yemenites do not give diminutives. There are plenty of Hebrew names for females there is no need for excuses for german names its just an excuse for assimilation that has no justification. Why are Ashkenazim so opposed to abandoning a language or even roots of such language that comes from a people who had very nearly destroyed them

    #1417579
    Rainus
    Participant

    In Ashkenaz, the custom was that everyone had a secular name. Four weeks after birth there was a special ceremony at home for giving the child this name, called Chol Kreish. The name was used everywhere, except in schul. A boy had a Shem Kodesh that was used for a Aliyah, that he was given at his Bris. Since women do not get Aliyos, they do not need a Shem Kodesh. Therefore, it was always more common for women to have a Shem Chol and no Shem Kodesh. For example, the daughter of the MaHarshal, her name was Valentina. There are boys who are named today after an ancestor whose name was Yitzchok Aizek, Shlomo Zalman, Dov Ber, Yehuda Leib. Really their Shem Kodesh was just Yitzchok, Shlomo, Dov, Yehuda. Their Shem Chol was Aizek, Zalman, Ber, Leib.
    Today,

    #1417580
    Rainus
    Participant

    Yente is a derivative of an Italian name Gentille. Shprintze is a derivative of the Italian Esperanza.

    #1417582
    Avi K
    Participant

    Effie, Chazal only forbade insulting nicknames. However, they themselves used diminutives. For example, Yossi ben Yoezer’s name was actually Yosef (Avoda Zara 37a).

    #1417640
    ubiquitin
    Participant

    Effie
    “Gittel frum Feige etc are German names period.”
    Not quite they are Yiddish

    “My father’s family Yemenite Jews used only hebrew names from the Tanach”
    Mazel tov.

    ” with no diminutives needed and as chazal forbade such diminutives ”
    chazal forbade no such thing. And in fact we find nicknames among Chazal:Abba Aruka for example, R’ Yochanaon Hasandler., R’ Akiva is refereed to as “koreach”. Admittedly these arent diminutives but they certainly are nicknames. It is hard to see how diminutives are worse than the above.

    ” the Yemenites do not give diminutives. There are plenty of Hebrew names for females there is no need for excuses for german names its just an excuse for assimilation that has no justification.”

    Yes naming people gittel is a key to assimilation.

    “Why are Ashkenazim so opposed to abandoning a language or even roots of such language that comes from a people who had very nearly destroyed them”
    you do realize the biggest demise of Yiddish occurred through the Germans. I fail to see how assuring that said language is in fact completely destroyed is in any way a noble effort

    #1417724
    iacisrmma
    Participant

    Rabbi Paysach Krohn discusses the origins of some of the yiddish names in his Bris Milah book (Mesorah Publications). I believe he also discusses that in Hungary, yidden had to have a “legal” name by Hungarian law.

    #1418431
    Redleg
    Participant

    Jews who are known by their non-Jewish names, Hmm, let me see. Abaye, Rava, Ulla …

    #1418483

    “Abaye” was a nickname, not a name used by non-Jews.

    #1418540
    Avi K
    Participant

    Ubitquin, why is it a noble effort to maintain Jewish Creole German? Should Rabaul Creole German also be maintained? It is totally useless except to historians and anthropologists. It would be far better to learn Hochdeutsch considering the economic power of German-speaking countries.

    #1418614
    ubiquitin
    Participant

    “Ubitquin, why is it a noble effort to maintain Jewish Creole German? ”

    I never said it is. Or is this a riddle?
    If so: OK why?

    “Should Rabaul Creole German also be maintained? ”
    I’m not familiar with this language, I do not have an opinion. Should it?

    “It is totally useless except to historians and anthropologists.”
    So why do you ask?

    ” It would be far better to learn Hochdeutsch considering the economic power of German-speaking countries”
    I don’t understand the logic here. Is there any? Deciding what language to learn is only based on its economic power?
    Do you put thought into your comments, that is one of the strangest assertions I’ve seen I guess you are opposed to learning Spanish? Or for that matter Hebrew ”considering the economic power of German speaking countries ”

    #1418628
    Avi K
    Participant

    Ubitquin,
    1. you protested what you consider to be an attempt to destroy Jewish Creole German so obviously you want to preserve it.
    2. Rabaul Creole German a.k.a. Unserdeutsch (“Our German”) is a German-based creole language that originated in Papua New Guinea. It was formed among the New Guinean children residing in a German-run orphanage in what was then German New Guinea. About 100 native speakers survive today, most of whom migrated to Australia after Papua New Guinea’s independence in 1975. (Wikipedia)
    3. I ask out of curiosity.
    4. I was comparing spending time and effort on learning Jewish Creole German (a.k.a. Jargon) and Standard German.
    5. Yes I do put thought into my comments. Do you?

    #1418666
    ubiquitin
    Participant

    “1. you protested what you consider to be an attempt to destroy Jewish Creole German so obviously you want to preserve it.”
    The logic there is flawed. I dont think an attempt to destroy a language (any language) is a good thing. that does not mean I necessarily think efforts to preserve it are noble. There is room for middle ground.

    “2. Rabaul Creole German a.k.a. Unserdeutsch (“Our German”) is a German-based creole language that originated in Papua New Guinea. It was formed among the New Guinean children residing in a German-run orphanage in what was then German New Guinea. About 100 native speakers survive today, most of whom migrated to Australia after Papua New Guinea’s independence in 1975. (Wikipedia)”

    Fascinating. Sure let them preserve it. Why not?

    “3. I ask out of curiosity.”
    Sure.

    “4. I was comparing spending time and effort on learning Jewish Creole German (a.k.a. Jargon) and Standard German.”

    how much time and effort do you think it takes when a person is born and raised in said community?

    “5. Yes I do put thought into my comments”.
    Eh. try harder. For example your point #1 isnt logically sound as demonstrated above.

    “Do you?”
    I try. Though I could work at better proofreading my comments

    #1420890
    apushatayid
    Participant

    “לא שינו את שמם”

    In all seriousness, what is the guideline here. How many Shlomos, Mendels, Yirmiyahus, or Yechezkels came down to mitzrayim? Would anyone tell a father who gave his sone one of these names , “hey, לא שינו את שמם”.

    #1420922
    iacisrmma
    Participant

    apushatayd: See Rabbi Hoffman’s article https://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/general/1418506/baby-names-halacha-rabbi-yair-hoffman.html

    I was always taught that LO SHINU AS SHEMAM was an ideal, not halacha. Rabbi Hoffman brings down at least one shita that it may be MIN HATORAH but it seems from what he quotes from R’ Moshe TZATZAL that is not the case.

    #1423570
    oyyoyyoy
    Participant

    couple of years ago when i asked about lo shinu, somebody posted r moshes tshuva i think. Or they explained why nowadays its different

    #1423798
    Yechi Hamelech
    Participant

    By the way, where are jakob and joseph on this topic? (no offense; i meant that as a joke)

    #1424037

    APY – It means that they didn’t use names that came from
    (or were in the fashion of, I guess?) their host country, not
    that they only used names already used by their ancestors.

    #1424100

    Oops – look like I took that post the wrong way. If we treat my post
    as though it ended at “host country,” it still basically works out.

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