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.
My sister texted me from the theatre while watching Sarah’s Key.
“You really think we’re Jewish?” she asked.
“Both of our parents had Jewish ancestry which their ancestors kept a secret.” I texted back.
“I can see why,” she answered. “It was awful!”
Yes, it was awful but today there is no reason to hide Jewish ancestry. If you have genealogical knowledge that will be of value to fleshing out your family tree, there is no better time than the present to record it. No one should ever have to deny their ethnicity.
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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