As genealogists our task is to reach into the past. We find the father then we want the father’s father but eventually we reach silence. Who were these people? One way to decipher who your ancestors were is by analyzing their names. The surnames (and first names) of ancestors will not unequivocally tell us what religion they were but those who have ancestors with names resembling “Jacob” or “Lion” might want to change their line of thinking. Don’t assume your ancestors have always been Christian. Try looking at it from a different standpoint. Maybe they were Jewish and they abandoned an odd name along the way but kept resemblances of it. In the Torah (Bible), “Jacob” is referred to as “Israel.” One of his sons was Judah from whence came the name “Jew.” Judah is synonymous with “lion.” In the ancient past, a Jewish man could sign documents as either “Judah” or “Lion.” Eventually Lion became a surname.
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 and Secret Genealogy III – From Jewish Anglo-Saxon Tribes to New France Acadians. Available here:
Secret Genealogy II: http://www.amazon.com/Secret-Genealogy-II-Christian-Ancestors/dp/1484053222
Secret Genealogy III: http://www.amazon.com/Secret-Genealogy-III-Jewish-Anglo-Saxon-Acadians/dp/148407579X
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