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About GNDBs, Names
THE GIVEN NAMES DATA BASES (GNDBs)
The Late Professor G. L. Esterson
(Aleksander ham. Ziskind) "Zisl" MARKUS Joseph (Yoseyf) "Yosi" ESTERSON + (Gele) "Gitl" AYZIKOWITZ + Rebecca (Rivqe) FANTICH | | | Jacob (Yaakov Dov) "Jake" ESTERSON ____| |____ + Anna (Ite Khane) "Itke" MARCUS | Gerald Lee (Gershom Liber) "Jerry" ESTERSON
("ham." (hamechune) is a technical Hebrew term meaning "Alias....." or "Commonly called.....")
In European countries, the rabbis recognized Primary-Subsidiary double given names (like Aleksander Ziskind or Yehuda Leyb) as the legal names for recording women and men in Jewish legal documents (Get, ketuva, and other Jewish contracts), and for calling a man to the Torah for an aliya. In addition to their Primary name, many Jews had a Subsidiary (i.e., Yiddish or European secular) name which was commonly linked to their Hebrew Primary name, like the Yiddish names Yudl or Leyb, to Yehuda. Most also had other simple Non-Subsidiary names (which were not written in a Get), like names of endearment (e.g., Yiddish name Yidele) and diminutives (Yudye or Itke), and others. And European emigrants to foreign countries adopted many foreign vernacular names (like Joseph or Rebecca). In some cases, Jews collected as many as 35 given names in some of these categories, depending on regional European and foreign name popularity and usage.
During the nineteenth century, Legal double (Primary-Subsidiary) given names were composed of a classical Hebrew name plus an "Old" and/or "NEW" name, as the rabbis called them; thus, Legal names could contain a single Hebrew name (Yehuda) or multiple names (Yehuda Leyb). The "Old" names were Yiddish names (Leyb), while the 500 "NEW" names were German (Albert, Berta), Polish (Bernat, Pola), Hungarian (Andras, Szidonia), or other secular names accepted by the rabbis for writing in a Jewish divorce document in Hebrew characters. The NEW German secular names were embraced first by German Jews after the acceptance of Jews into German society during the nineteenth century Age of Enlightenment, spreading later to Poland and Hungary where Jews added local secular names to the German list, or substituted local names for some of the German names.
Since normal onomastic studies ("the origin and history of given names") would not lead to the correct structure of our new Given Names Data Dases in the above rabbinic format, for this purpose we used instead the rabbinic sources known as Hilchot Gitin (Laws of Divorce) -- Jewish law books written by expert, prominent rabbis as guides for community rabbis who prepared Jewish divorce documents. Our structured data bases were then enhanced by entering additional names from other sources such as revision lists. The resulting data bases include all of the above name types, each in its proper category. In these data bases, the legal NEW Yiddishized-secular names are printed in capital letters (ADOLF) and are labeled there as 'new' names, while non-legal secular names extracted from archival documents are presented in upper and lower case letters (Adolph).
For the Jewish given names used in Europe during 1795-1925, searchable data bases have been set up for fifteen European regions:
Belarus, Denmark, France, Galicia, Germany, Holland, Hungary, Latvia/Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Prussia, Romania, Russia, Sweden, and Ukraine
Links are made in each record to the new foreign local vernacular names adopted in this same time period in ten Foreign countries to which European Jews migrated:
Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Palestine, South Africa, UK, Uruguay, US
Thus, for each European region, these data bases include the Hebrew, Yiddish, and local & pan-European secular names used by Jews, as well as the new linked vernacular names adopted by them in foreign countries. These fifteen Given Names Data Bases (GNDBs) can be searched for your family's given names by visiting this web site's GNDB page at Search the GNDBs.
These data bases of linked European and foreign-country given names are being developed in an on-going project using: Hilchot Gitin books, archival European records, given names books, non-European gravestone readings, contributions from researchers, and other sources. They allow genealogists to discover all of the alternative Jewish and vernacular names which an ancestor may have used in Europe and in his new country of immigration. These data bases will be a useful part of comprehensive programs of genealogical research, such as Basics of the JewishGen Web Site.
An expression of my deep gratitude and acknowledgment of their contributions to this project is hereby made to the following people. Without their expert help, this project would have been considerably more difficult to carry out.