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Archiver > ROOTS > 2009-06 > 1246133489

From: Shirley Hornbeck <>
Subject: [ROOTS-L] This and That Jewish Surnames
Date: Sat, 27 Jun 2009 13:11:29 -0700

Visit these sites: Consolidated Jewish Surname Index: for a database of more than
200,000 Jewish surnames found in 23 different sources. Key in the
surname and the system will display all surnames that have the same
Soundex code as the name you are searching. The Soundex system used
is the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex system which is used in all Jewish
genealogical databases and is gaining popularity in genealogical
circles in general (a description of the D-M system is located at:
Next to each spelling variant of the name are up to 23 codes which
identify which of the sources contain the surname. Scroll down for a
description of each source and a Web link to additional information
about the source.
Some other valuable research tools include: JewishGen Family Finder.
This is a searchable database on the Internet which lists more than
25,000 Jewish surnames being researched by some 12,000 genealogists
worldwide. It you get a hit, the JewishGen site will give you the
postal and/or e-mail address of the submitter.
"Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire" and
"Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Kingdom of Poland." These two
books list more than 80,000 different Jewish surnames from czarist
Russia at the turn of the century. It includes the names etymology,
where in the empire the name appeared, and all known variants of the
name. If you are non-Jewish with ancestors from the Russian Empire,
if the name in not in either of these books, it is unlikely the
surname is Jewish.
-- "First American Jewish Families." This book attempted to document
all descendants of Jews who arrived in the U.S. prior to 1838. If you
have colonial ancestors who you think may have been Jewish and the
surname is not in the book, do not be disappointed. There is some
evidence the book may have only captured half the possible people. In
addition, the author did not include any Jews who came to America and
brought up their children as non-Jewish; there had to be at least one
generation of Jewish-Americans in the family.
"Gedenkbuch." For non-Jews trying to determine if their German
ancestors were Jewish, it is a good source of German-Jewish surnames.
The book's origin is steeped in tragedy. The Gedenkbuch is a list of
128,000 German Jews murdered in the Holocaust. From a genealogical
standpoint, it can be thought of as a list of virtually all
German-Jewish surnames (about 25% of the Jews of Germany were
murdered during this period). If your surname is not in the list, it
is unlikely your ancestor is Jewish.
For non-Jewish researchers, be cautious of the source of information;
a few databases include non-Jewish surnames. For example, the Jewish
Genealogical People Finder is a database of Jewish family trees.
Clearly it includes non-Jewish persons who married Jews. Similarly,
"First American Jewish Families" noted above, is also a database of
family trees that definitely includes non-Jewish surnames (many of
the earliest Jewish families assimilated into the Christian American
Another consideration is that many surnames are shared by Jews and
non-Jews alike. The origins of surnames are often occupations or
place names, either of which can occur in families independent of
religion. The third most common Jewish surname in the United States
is Miller. The first two are Cohen and Levy.
Gary Mokotoff is the publisher of "Avotaynu, the International Review
of Jewish Genealogy" - or send e-mail
to: - co-author of "Where Once We Walked: A Guide
to the Jewish Communities Destroyed in the Holocaust" and "How to
Document Victims and Locate Survivors of the Holocaust," co-author of
the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex Code, and creator of numerous databases
of interest to Jewish and Eastern European genealogists, including
the Jewish Genealogical Family Finder, Jewish Genealogical People
Finder, and the Consolidated Jewish Surname Index.

See my This and That page for more tips.

Shirley Hornbeck <>;

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