It’s easy to explain away the end of our ancestral trail by saying things like, “Well, it was a long time ago,” or “People didn’t write things down,” or “People didn’t keep records like they do today,” and those statements may be true. However, there is another aspect to searching for ancestors and that is Schem Hakodesch. What is Schem Hadodesch? It is the sacred Hebrew name given to babies and the name used in Hebrew documents and in the synagogue. But you’re not Jewish, you say. No, maybe you’re not, but that doesn’t mean that your great-great-great-grandfather wasn’t. Starting in the 1100’s Jewish custom was to have two names. One was the above-mentioned Hebrew name, the holy name, the other was a kinouy, also spelled kinnui or kinui, and it was a name that related to that person’s immediate environment, their secular name. Even if the kinouy was similar to the holy name, which they often are, important documents were signed with the holy name, the Schem Hadodesch, which is why you may have lost the trail to your beloved ancestors.
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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