The use of multiple names is a Hebrew tradition. Jews blended common German names with Hebrew names. Hebrew names were important for legal contracts but the ancestors that we are looking for were probably long past writing up Hebrew contracts. They were hiding their Hebrew origins and at what point they quit teaching their children Hebrew probably varied within each family. In the 1800s, it became popular in Germany, Hungary and Poland to give Jewish children local common names. It was quite common all over the world, among Jews, to take the name of a town, city, village, hamlet, etc. Just because the ancestor you’re researching doesn’t have a Hebrew, Yiddish or Ladino name does not mean she wasn’t Jewish.
Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret Genealogy a how-to for tracing ancient Jewish ancestry available at Amazon, B&N and Ocean-Hose.
Lately I was surprised to run across a term I’d never heard before, “Hebrew-Christians”. This is an old term appearing in historic census records from the Holy Land and Poland, referring to Jews who considered their ethnicity as Jewish but their religion to be Christian. Of course the earliest Christians were Jews, Christianity began with a small sect of Jews following Jesus, whom we know was also a Jew. I do not know how far back the term “Hebrew-Christian” was used. Undoubtedly there were “Hebrew-Christians” who dropped the Hebrew part of the expression and eventually were known only as “Christian”, this is why it is often so difficult for people to accept that their ancestors were Jewish. They had just never heard it said. Historical events of persecution give grand evidence for the reason why the “Hebrew” portion of the expression was dropped.
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: http://www.amazon.com/Secret-Genealogy-Volume-Suellen-Ocean/dp/0965114082
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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