PDA

View Full Version : German and/or Jewish?



Loki
04-25-2009, 07:41 PM
Some German surnames are common among Jews too, as many were living in Germany and had adopted German surnames. One of these is Hoffman (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoffman). Even though quite prevalent among Jews, Hoffman is certainly first and foremost German.

The question is: In a genealogical search, how does one distinguish whether an overlapping surname like that is of German or Jewish origin, apart from the obvious religious adherence of the individual?

Rudy
04-25-2009, 08:18 PM
On July 1787 a new ruling was published: each Jew in German lands was required to either adopt (or if they already had one, to maintain) a firm, German surname.
http://homepage.mac.com/ebauer/translations/page4/page4.html

JewishGen: The Home of Jewish Genealogy
http://www.jewishgen.org/

Æmeric
04-25-2009, 08:29 PM
I think records exist going back to 1787. Genealogical research may be the only way to be sure.

In the US certain German names are assumed to be Jewish if they contain berg, stein, feld, gold, silver, rosen, stern, thal, green, roth etc... Roosevelt was originally Rosenfelt which is why some people think FDR was a Jew but Rosenfelt predates the adoption of surnames by German Jews.

US Jews are not shy about changing their names. For example Murray Rothstein who became Sumner Redstone.

Psychonaut
04-25-2009, 08:31 PM
It's tricky for sure. If I didn't have baptism records for the handful of German ancestors I do have there's no way that I'd know if they were Jews or Germans, since their surnames are found amongst both Alpine Jews and Calvinists.

Æmeric
04-25-2009, 08:35 PM
Do you mean forenames as oppose to surnames? I know for example Adam was popular among some of my Calvinist German ancestors. but names like Solomon or Nehemiah don't appear to have been popular among German Calvinist in the same way they were for Anglo-American Calvinists. Perhaps because they were viewed as Jewish names in Germany & Old Testament/Hebrew names in America prior to mass Jewish immigration.

Gooding
04-25-2009, 08:43 PM
It's tricky for sure. If I didn't have baptism records for the handful of German ancestors I do have there's no way that I'd know if they were Jews or Germans, since their surnames are found amongst both Alpine Jews and Calvinists.

I heard you on that, Psychonaut and I agree.My German ancestors were generally Catholics, while the few Swiss ancestors I have were Swiss Reformed.Baptismal and confirmation records are always useful.

Psychonaut
04-25-2009, 08:46 PM
Do you mean forenames as oppose to surnames? I know for example Adam was popular among some of my Calvinist German ancestors. but names like Solomon or Nehemiah don't appear to have been popular among German Calvinist in the same way they were for Anglo-American Calvinists. Perhaps because they were viewed as Jewish names in Germany & Old Testament/Hebrew names in America prior to mass Jewish immigration.

No, I'm definitely speaking about surnames like Edelmeier, Hirtzel and Steiner.

Loyalist
04-25-2009, 09:36 PM
It depends on whether you're examining it from a Colonial or European viewpoint. Pre-19th century Germans in North America were almost invariably Palatines; Protestants (Calvinists and Lutherans) primarily hailing from the Rhineland-Palatinate, Baden-Württemberg, Hesse, and North-Rhine Westphalia regions, as well as Swiss Mennonites/Anabaptists. They began emigrating in the early 18th century, and continued for decades. Others arrived in the 17th century with the Dutch and Huguenot settlers in New Netherlands, and this is also the case for South Africa. Again, religion was a key factor in both the 17th and 18th century waves, and I'm not aware of any case where Jews turned up. Furthermore, Jewish surnames were not yet established, as Æmeric pointed at, and the concept of Jews converting to Christianity didn't take hold until the early 19th century.

Most of my German ancestors arrived in the 18th century, with the rest having come with the Dutch in the century prior. All were baptized Calvinists, Lutherans, or Mennonites. Of course, more than one possessed a forename or surname that is tainted with Jewish association today, but documentation, history, and common sense dictates that the idea of Jewish ancestry in this era is nonsense.

As for Europe, it's impossible to say, and the only solution is genealogical research (which anyone who values their identity should conduct regardless). It's still extremely unlikely, and the reason these names are associated with Jewry to begin with is the disproportionate number of famous Jews, meaning a similarly disproportionate representation of these titles in a Jewish context is given to the world. When not considering those in the entertainment industry, academia, or any other prominent field, the majority of those bearing what we consider to be suspiciously Semitic names are Gentiles with absolutely no Jewish ancestry.

There are exceptions, and in particular, Catholics from Austria and Germany, especially those who emigrated to America or other Colonial nations in the 19th or 20th centuries. Most Jews who converted to Christianity opted for Catholicism over Protestantism, and while it's still unlikely that the average Austrian or German Catholic, whether in Europe or a Colonial land, is of Jewish ancestry, it's still better to be certain. An example that comes to mind is Fred Astaire, born Frederick Austerlitz, whose father was a Catholic descended from Jewish converts.

Electronic God-Man
04-25-2009, 09:49 PM
Again, religion was a key factor in both the 17th and 18th century waves, and I'm not aware of any case where Jews turned up.

Joseph Simon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Simon_(1712-1804)) was one of a few Jews among the PA Dutch mentioned by name.


By 1747, the community had enough men to support a minyan, and religious services were held at Simon's house.

A minyan requires at least 10 adult Jewish men.

Loyalist
04-25-2009, 10:01 PM
Joseph Simon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Simon_(1712-1804)) was one of a few Jews among the PA Dutch mentioned by name.

A minyan requires at least 10 adult Jewish men.

There were Sephardic Jews who turned up in New Netherland as merchants and traders, and this man seems follow the same trend. By custom (or law) they remained within their own communities, not inter-marrying with German or other European settlers. As always, wealthy Jewish businessmen (like this Joseph Simon) were present anywhere European settlement occured, but as prominent individuals, few in number, and not as poor migrants or refugees as with their Gentile counterparts, and were consequently not absorbed into the European community.

Inese
04-25-2009, 10:03 PM
What i learned from German surnames is that Jews never have -er endings at their name , my German grandfather told me that!!

Example: Silberstein ----- could be jewish , not typical German
Silbersteiner ----- German name , never Jewish

Loyalist
04-25-2009, 10:08 PM
What i learned from German surnames is that Jews never have -er endings at their name , my German grandfather told me that!!

Example: Silberstein ----- could be jewish , not typical German
Silbersteiner ----- German name , never Jewish

I don't know where he got that idea, but, while more common Jewish surnames are indeed the standard Goldman, Silverstein, Levy and so on, there are plenty of Jews from German-speaking lands with names ending in -er. :shrug:

Inese
04-25-2009, 10:15 PM
I don't know where he got that idea, but, while more common Jewish surnames are indeed the standard Goldman, Silverstein, Levy and so on, there are plenty of Jews from German-speaking lands with names ending in -er. :shrug:
Hm give some examples??? The thing is that -er means that iz refer to a location. " Eppenmüller " mean that the person family comes from location Eppenmühl!! Jews dont name themselfes after location more like special or expensive things ---- Gold Silver or other thing. Location names at Jews are very seldom!?? I can only say what my German grandfather told me. May be mixed jews have adopted names of normal Germans. Scarlett Johannson is jewish and has nordish skandivanian surname because father is non jewish but he mother is jewish.

Æmeric
04-25-2009, 10:22 PM
I knew a Jew named Hollander. Casper Weinberger was Jewish. And Henry Kissinger.

Lyfing
04-25-2009, 10:35 PM
Sigmund Leibstein stold my name and did about the worse thing imaginable with it..


In 1913, anguished by the anti-Semitism of his time, Sigmund Livingston founded ADL in a small Chicago office. More than eight decades later, ADL has grown beyond all expectations. . . beyond all aspirations. . . into 30 Regional and Satellite Offices. . . into a leading force in human relations. . . into the nation's foremost champion in the struggle against anti-Semitism.

Founded on one man's iron will to achieve social justice and to eradicate hatred, ADL has invested nearly a century in influencing, educating and effecting reform. As the face of America continues to change on the brink of the 21st century, ADL will pursue its ever-challenging quest for equality, freedom and justice for all people. . . our legacy from Sigmund Livingston.

http://www.adl.org/ADLHistory/1913_2000.asp

...:thumb001:

Later,
-Lyfing

Loyalist
04-25-2009, 11:10 PM
I knew a Jew named Hollander. Casper Weinberger was Jewish. And Henry Kissinger.

...John Schlesinger, Simon Bamberger, Emile Berliner... :coffee:

Brynhild
04-26-2009, 12:33 AM
It's a good question. For some reason I have a better knack with surnames than I do with taxonomy in discerning a person's heritage. However, the German names have stumped me as well.

I was wondering about this only two days ago, as I have a client whose surname is Lindberg. It's none of my business to pry into his background so I'm still wondering about his actual heritage.

It's just ironic the timing of the question for me.

Jamt
04-26-2009, 12:52 AM
Lindberg is Swedish.

Jamt
04-26-2009, 01:06 AM
Next to son endings on surnames, endings and starts like Berg, Sjö, Skog, Man and other aspects of nature are traditional Swedish. I guess almost all Swedes have them. In the case Lindberg, Lind is a tree and berg is mountain.

Brynhild
04-26-2009, 01:21 AM
Next to son endings on surnames, endings and starts like Berg, Sjö, Skog, Man and other aspects of nature are traditional Swedish. I guess almost all Swedes have them. In the case Lindberg, Lind is a tree and berg is mountain.

Thanks for clearing that up. :thumb001: For some reason, I thought Germans had such names as well.

Inese
04-26-2009, 01:30 AM
I knew a Jew named Hollander. Casper Weinberger was Jewish. And Henry Kissinger.

Hmm yes i have looked and it is true! :rolleyes2: They are location surenames , that is sure. The name Kissing comes from Kissingen its a town.

I looked a little and the German wikipedia article is very informative on Jewish names!! :thumb001:
http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jüdischer_Familienname

The english Wikipedia article is useless for German Jewish names it has not the informations of the German article!! I try a summary okay?? :cool: The article says that German jews had no steady family name before end of 18. century. The praktice before was that they took the name of the father as a surname ( Jakob ben Nathan = Jakob, Son of Nathan )!!

At the end of 18. century the absoluteistic states made it mandatory for jews to take steady surnames if they want enhanced peoples rights. It hapened 1787 first in Austria and other German states followed!! And 1808 Napoleon made a decret ( décret infâme ) that all jews need to take a steady surname and other countries followed with the regulation.
Jews could not pick a free name and sometimes they were degorating ( Trinker, Bettelarm ,Maulwurf ) but they could it change later. Often they took a name near the normal German names to not attract attention. But often jew names are different because the jews liked synonyms , thinking around corners , malapropism ( ??? translator word lol :D ) and self irony.

But a other site with some information in English is here ---- second paragraph is about jewish names.

http://german.about.com/library/weekly/aa050399.htm

Interesting passage is that: The name they received sometimes depended on how much a family could afford to pay. Wealthier familes received German names that had a pleasant or prosperous sound (Goldstein, gold stone, Rosenthal, rose valley), while the less prosperous had to settle for less prestigious names based on a place (Schwab, from Swabia), an occupation (Schneider, tailor), or a characteristic (Grün, green).

Money money money what suprise! :P

Loki
04-26-2009, 01:38 AM
Most of my German ancestors are from pre-1700 Germany ... and most were survivors/escapees of the Thirty Years War. Protestant Christians, no Jews among them.

SwordoftheVistula
04-26-2009, 02:05 AM
Jewish last names are all names containing

Ruben/Rubin
Gold/Gelt/Geld/Gould
Silver/Silber
Stein/Shteyn/Steyn
Fein/Fine
Ehren
David
Abram/Abraham
Lieb
Blum/Bloom
Crystal/Kristol
Got-
Gut-
Levin
Israel
Wexler/Weschler
Cohen/Kohen/Cohn/Kohn
Kagan
Stern
Gross
Singer
Sekuklow/Sokolov


Any German city name +er, for example Berliner, Frankfurter, Hamburger, Breslauer, Danziger, Wiener (Wien being how they spell Vienna in German)

end in -kin

ending in -baum

-off




Sometimes or often jewish, sometimes not:

Berg/Burg
Rosen (sometimes Anglicized to 'Rose')

names ending in -bach

Green
Gentile
Schneider
-weis/weiss

Frank
-heim

Fried-

Schwartz
Sanders
Cowen

Stone (converted from Stein)
White (converted from Weiss)
Black (converted from Schwartz)

ending in -zer, -ner, itz or -ler


names ending in -wicz or -witz (more often -witz)



Jews often, but not always, have biblical first names (Rachel, Adam, Levi, Michael, David, Jacob, Isaac) or for some strange reason Scottish/British last names as first names (Morris, Malcolm, Allen, Ross, Glenn, Murray, Shay, Lawrence, Walter, Norman, Bradley)

Jamt
04-26-2009, 02:14 AM
Berg names iis wery common in Sweden and not Jewish.

SwordoftheVistula
04-26-2009, 02:32 AM
Berg names iis wery common in Sweden and not Jewish.

Alright, moved to the sometimes/often category. More often than not, people with names like Annenberg are jewish, apparently this is not always the case.

Loyalist
04-26-2009, 02:45 AM
Excellent list, although I do have an ancestor named Kuhn, and then there are Kühn and Kühne, none of which are Jewish or derived from "Cohen". The leader of the German American Bund was Fritz Kuhn, for example. I would also hesitate to categorize everything with "Stein" thrown in as potentially Jewish.

Electronic God-Man
04-26-2009, 03:43 AM
Any German city name +er, for example Berliner, Frankfurter, Hamburger, Breslauer, Danziger, Wiener (Wien being how they spell Vienna in German)


Maybe large cities, but not towns.

Very many German names are like this. Rissinger, Huntzinger, Hollinger, Eilenberger, Dieffenderfer, etc.

Lulletje Rozewater
04-26-2009, 05:49 PM
I think records exist going back to 1787. Genealogical research may be the only way to be sure.

In the US certain German names are assumed to be Jewish if they contain berg, stein, feld, gold, silver, rosen, stern, thal, green, roth etc... Roosevelt was originally Rosenfelt which is why some people think FDR was a Jew but Rosenfelt predates the adoption of surnames by German Jews.

US Jews are not shy about changing their names. For example Murray Rothstein who became Sumner Redstone.
Easy for us in South Africa
Hoffmann with a big nose and somewhat curly hair is jewish,without these also jewish :)

Loki
04-26-2009, 05:53 PM
Easy for us in South Africa
Hoffmann with a big nose and somewhat curly hair is jewish,without these also jewish :)

What are you talking about? This is not true. Hoffman is one of the surnames of the founding families, came to SA in the late 17th century. They were German Protestant Christians, not Jews. If you are talking about recent 20th century immigrants, this may be the case.

Lulletje Rozewater
04-27-2009, 08:28 AM
What are you talking about? This is not true. Hoffman is one of the surnames of the founding families, came to SA in the late 17th century. They were German Protestant Christians, not Jews. If you are talking about recent 20th century immigrants, this may be the case.

I know Loki,but I wrote Hoffmann not Hoffman

thorsblot
05-28-2009, 10:49 AM
Do any of the German members here know anything about the surname "Schipalius"? Where it is from in Germany, etc?

Ulf
05-28-2009, 12:27 PM
Many of my surnames have come back from sites as Ashkenazic and I just rage and throw my keyboard at the wall.

We were always Christian. Until this generation at least. :wink

Goidelic
06-25-2009, 06:57 AM
All my German ancestors were Old Stock/18th century immigrants. One was born in 1800 but was of Protestant religion, also her picture looks very Nordish/Northwest Euro, absolutely no Armenid/Orientalid in her phenotype. 99.9% of Germans in the 17th and 18th centuries to America were biologically indigenous Germans, not Middle Eastern/Ashkenazi German Jews. When the 19th century arrived there was a change in scenery, especially "German" phenotypes in New York. :p:D

I've met in the past some people claim their German heritage, when they have recent 20th century "German" ancestry named Stein or Berg. :p:D

They don't look that Nordish to say the least. ;)

So you'll know what type of religion/ethnoreligious group I'll be referring to. ;)