Many are becoming interested in their family genealogy but become discouraged when the trail comes to an end. Who was the father or mother of this ancestor? Where did they come from? They’ve got to be out there somewhere. “Somebody help me!” is a common phrase I see all the time on the ancestry message boards. It could be that your ancestors were Jews and you just don’t quite know how to look for them. Take for example the name Barkin. I think it sounds English but it could have originally been “bar Cohen,” a Jewish name. Also take the common name Silva. Derived from Latin, Silva means forest. Silva is one of the most common surnames in Brazil. Here is an example of a Sephardic Jewish Portuguese name: Tobiau Israel da Silva.
Through the ages, people became very creative in the ways they altered their names. Many non-Jewish names become popular Jewish names but Rabbis were strict about which names a child could use. They were concerned about the practice of naming Jewish babies gentile names so set up creative ways for Jews to have both a sacred Jewish name and a name that fit within the local culture. This sacred name was what descendants could use to recognize that their ancestors were Jewish. It’s unfortunate that too often, these sacred names became lost or abandoned.
Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret Genealogy – A How-to for Tracing Ancient Jewish Ancestry, Secret Genealogy II – Uncovering the Jewish Roots of Our Christian Ancestors, Secret Genealogy III – From Jewish Anglo-Saxon Tribes to New France Acadians, Secret Genealogy IV – Native Americans Hidden in Our Family Trees, Secret Genealogy V– Black, White and Hamite; Ancestors of Color in Our Family Trees and Secret Genealogy VI – Freemasons, Jewish Conquistadors and the Holy Family. Available here:
Secret Genealogy: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0965114082
Secret Genealogy II: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1484053222
Secret Genealogy III: http://www.amazon.com/dp/148407579X
Secret Genealogy IV: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1500756105
Secret Genealogy V: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01HJ622DU
Secret Genealogy VI: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MY35VCP