Jewish and Israeli Names: Vladimir or Ze'ev?

Bar-Ilan University (www.biu.ac.il) has a good article on Jewish and Israeli names.

"In Israel today," explains Prof. Demsky, an authority on Biblical names and genealogy in the Department of Jewish History, "The trend is to opt for monosyllabic names which are Hebrew, but don't necessarily sound Jewish, like Shir, Din, Ben, Tom, Tal and Bar. Many of these names are given to both girls and boys, reflecting the idea of equality. The names are simple and noncommittal. They are not Jewish in the sense of having a literary or religious connotation. Many of these parents want their children to feel comfortable in the outside world. They want these names to be pronounceable in any language. This definitely says something about today's Israeli society," concludes Demsky.

I studied at Bar-Ilan University in the early 90's, just as the Oslo process was starting - it's an Israeli University that has a large number of national religious students, many who became my friends.

I copy the full article below, but if you are looking for a Jewish name, you might also want to check "Naming your Jewish Baby".





What's in a Jewish Name?
http://www.biu.ac.il/
Spokesman/scholar/names.html

What do the names Schwartz, Rotem, Persky, Rosenberg, Bar, Tal and Har-Shoshanim tell us about Jewish history and society? "Names are just about the best indicator we have of sociological values and norms, throughout the Jewish Disapora and into the modern era," explains Bar-Ilan University onomastics specialist Prof. Aaron Demsky.

Prof. Aaron Demsky coordinates the Project for the Study of Jewish Names at Bar-Ilan. The study of names, or onomastics, is multidisciplinary; it embraces history, anthropology, linguistics, archaeology, and other disciplines. Prof. Demsky is working on the establishment of a data-base of Jewish names, and has organized three international conferences at Bar-Ilan University on the subject.

"In Israel today," explains Prof. Demsky, an authority on Biblical names and genealogy in the Department of Jewish History, "The trend is to opt for monosyllabic names which are Hebrew, but don't necessarily sound Jewish, like Shir, Din, Ben, Tom, Tal and Bar. Many of these names are given to both girls and boys, reflecting the idea of equality. The names are simple and noncommittal. They are not Jewish in the sense of having a literary or religious connotation. Many of these parents want their children to feel comfortable in the outside world. They want these names to be pronounceable in any language. This definitely says something about today's Israeli society," concludes Demsky.

After the establishment of the Jewish State in 1948 there was a tendency to change surnames, stresses Demsky. The purpose: indication of a new Jewish identity and State of Israel, and a cultural renaissance. Traditional Jewish names were reinstated after aliya. "The name Boris, for instance, was transformed to Baruch, while the name Vladimir became Ze'ev. David Ben-Gurion and Levi Eshkol changed their last names from Green and Skolnick respectively. Herzog and Weizman on the other hand, were comfortable with their position in society and kept their names," Demsky explains.

Places that were named to emphasize the Zionist struggle for the Land of Israel have different connotations for different people (i.e., Judea and Samaria vs. the West Bank), noted Bar-Ilan geographer Prof. Yossi Katz at a conference on Jewish names organized by Prof. Demsky. "Reverting to biblical place names answered the Zionist need to create new Hebrew names" he explained.

The first international conference on Jewish Onomastics was held at Bar-Ilan University in June 1993. A second conference, held in June 1995, covered the full gamut of Jewish history, from the biblical period to the present, and all Jewish communities in Israel and the Diaspora.

A collection of articles on Jewish names in various communities from Biblical to modern times, based on lectures given at the first conference, was just released. The book, entitled These are Their Names; Studies in Jewish Onomastics, was edited by A. Demsky, J.A. Reif and J. Tabory.

At the Third International Conference on Jewish Names held July 1997, the special focus of the conference was on women's names. Prof. David Golinkin of the Jerusalem Seminary of Judaic Studies addressed the importance of women's names in the life of Jewish people as used in prayers for the healing of the sick. For example, contrary to the tradition of calling a person to read from the Torah by his father's name, a person who is ill is mentioned by the name of his mother in the mishabayrach (prayer for the sick).

Women's names were also important in determining the migration of Jews in the Middle Ages. Jacob Guggenheim of Hebrew University presented research on Jewish epitaphs from a cemetery of medieval Berlin, containing Slavic names. This indicates that the women's origins were from the Slavic countries in the East, and contradicts the idea that the Jews migrated from the West. Indeed, many family names are matriarchal, says Demsky. The surname Rifkin, for example, means Rivka's children; Elkin -- Elka's children; Sorkin -- Sora's children.

Also discussed at the conference were Yemenite nicknames and Eastern European attitudes. Dr. Aharon Gaimani, of Bar-Ilan, an expert on Yemenite family names and nicknames, lectured on the use of both Arabic and Hebrew names among the Yemenites. Other sessions focused on Bucharan and Georgian Jewish communities before and after aliya.

Posted by David Melle
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Comments

I am interested in all material on Jewish names, as I am writing MA on them. Unfortunatelly I haven't been able to find any way of aquiring Demsky's work on Jewsih names. How can I do that? I think his work would be the main point of my thesis, though they al almost finished. I have compiled a dictionary about 1,500 hebrew names in Polish- English dictionary.
Do you want to help me with that?
Your sincerely Lilia Tokarz, Poland

Posted by: Lilia Tokarz at March 29, 2003 09:36 AM


I need the first names of Israeli Jews, male and female. About ten of each.

Thank you
navyjules@aol.com

Posted by: Jules Tabak at September 13, 2003 01:28 PM


I need the first names of Israeli Jews, male and female. About ten of each.

Thank you
navyjules@aol.com

Posted by: Jules Tabak at September 13, 2003 01:29 PM


Looking for 10 Israeli boys' names , 2 syllable, not Biblical. Thanks. Vivian

Posted by: Vivian Margulies at May 16, 2005 05:43 AM


can anyone please give me information on the name Portman? I have heard it used in connection with Israelis as well as being an English noble name. Is it translated/ adapted?

Much appreciated

Ilana Roth

Posted by: Ilana at May 26, 2005 03:44 PM


I need the hebrew translatioin for the following names:

Celia
Max
Bernard
Dorothy

Posted by: carl at October 14, 2005 06:51 AM


I am a persky. I would love to get materials on the origin or meaning of the name, can you supply same? dan perskie

Posted by: daniel perskie at February 2, 2006 12:13 PM


Hi,

I would like to know the origen of my name. I know that my great grandfather came from Germany, but is the name Reif german?

Thank you,
Elly Reif

Posted by: Elly Reif at May 24, 2006 09:38 PM


Hello, I just wanted to know if jahones was a jewish name its just that its not your typical german name, my great great grandfather was named jahones and migrated to australia and to tell you the truth if you looked at our family you would'nt say that we look german we all have black or dark curly hair with dark eyes.

Posted by: alex at March 18, 2007 07:55 PM


HI....
I WOULD LIKE TO LEARN A DICTIONARY NAME IN THE INTERNET THE JEWISH NAMES AND SURNAMES .

WOULD YOU SHARE ME INFORMATION PLZ....

THANK YOU VERY MUCH

Posted by: irnu at March 20, 2007 03:04 PM


Hello people,
Just to let you know that I dont need a answer to my question , I have found out that johanes's last name is actually jewish .
thankyou very much
Alex.

Posted by: alex at March 30, 2007 11:39 PM


Could you give me any background on the surname SCZYRBA? I would appreciate any info.

shalom

Posted by: Kat at July 30, 2007 11:02 AM


Could you give me any background on the surname SCZYRBA? I would appreciate any info.

shalom
Petra

Posted by: Petra at May 3, 2008 08:32 AM


I believe that the suname, Duran originated in the 13th. century in France comming from two rabbis by that name. Can you verify this?

Posted by: CJ Moore at October 2, 2008 04:42 PM


CAn someone tell me if the name KRAUS is Jewish> I think it is.

Posted by: leslie HAmmes at October 29, 2008 10:25 AM


Hi, My ancestor was Dr. Samuel Nunez. I need to know about the last names: Ribiero, Nunez. and Eunice. I am trying to research my family history, I know they came to America from Portugal, and Spain before there. I'm trying to trace tyhem back to Israel and I think it would help to know the meanings of the names.
Thank You,
Amanda

Posted by: Amanda Richey at November 15, 2008 10:32 AM


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