Ancient, Recent Reasons Abound For Taking Surnames
By BETTY PROVIZER STARKMAN
There are many interesting
customs connected with the
adoption of our Jewish family
Some North African Jews took
as surnames the tribal names of the
Berbers who protected them.
In the early twentieth century,
the Jews of Iran were required to
adopt surnames. Some simply
opened the Bible or a prayer book
and took the first name that caught
Today we still find Jewish family
names of Roman and Green origin,
which have existed for over two
thousand years. Markus/Marcus
probably stem from the war god
Mars. From the Greek son of god,
Phoebus, we find the names Fabian
Winter, Sommer, Springer and
Herbst are examples of family
names adopted from the seasons.
They may have originated from the
time of year Jewish peddlers arrived
in a particular area. The Jewish
Encyclopedia (New York, 1901-1906)
has Eighteenth and Nineteenth
century biographies for the family
Winter from Hungary and
Czechoslovakia. The Universal
Jewish Encyclopedia (New York,
1939-1945) has an article on an
Austrian general, Emil von Sommer.
Rofe is a name of Hebrew root
meaning, "doctor." It was used a
surname primarily among the
Sephardic communities. The Jewish
Encyclopedia contains two
biographies from the Fourteenth and
Fifteenth centuries. Daniel ben
Samuel ha-Rofe was the Rabbi at
Tivoli, Italy, and the grandson of
fourteenth century Roman Poet
David ben Judah.
Kissinger is a surname that
tells us that the family originated in
Bad Kissingen, a resort town in
Bavaria. Jews first settled there in
the seventeenth century.
The family name Kobrin was
probably derived from a geographic
location — the town of Kobryn in
Russia. Jews lived in this location
from the sixteenth century.
The Duran family can trace
their origins to fourteenth, century
Provence, France. This name
depicts original residence in Oran,
Algeria. Fourteen biographies can
be found in the Jewish
Edelmann is a name of
matronymic root adopted to honor a
female ancestor named Edel.
Windecken, Germany, was the
place of origin of the family bearing
the name Winig. Lipmann Winig
was living in the Frankfurt ghetto in
1639 at the house bearing the sign
of the "black ring." This family later
adopted the name Schnapper.
Betty Provizer Starkman is the
past president and founder of the
genealogical branch of the Jewish
Historical Society of Michigan.
The 'TWenty-Three And Reyna
Continued from Page L-7
Stuyvesant: In Amsterdam,
maybe. In New Amsterdam, never!
Not while I am Governor of the
Asher Levy: That we will see.
Stuyvesant: You dare?
Asher Levy: For nine years we
dared to fight and die to keep
Recife a Dutch possession. We
dared the open sea when Recife
was lost. We have dared much for
Holland. We dare think Holland will
be grateful enough to provide us a
home in this Dutch colony.
Stuyvesant: And will the Colony
also support you, feed you, house
you and clothe you?
Asher Levy: Of that you never
Stuyvesant: You have come
here like beggars, with nothing but
the clothes on your backs.
Asher Levy: We lost our
possessions fighting for Holland.
There are those among us who
have wealth in other lands. We will
have funds before long.
Stuyvesant: And in the
Asher Levy: In the meantime
we will manage, with God's help.
'Governor Stuyvesant, we shall not
be a burden on the Colony. As long
as we dwell in this land we will see
to it that we ourselves take care of
the needy among us. (Curtain)
SCENE 4: An open place near
Bowling Green. Upstage, a crowd of
people is facing the Auctioneer. He
is standing on a box. In front of him
are heaped the Jews' belongings.
Rebecca: Look, Mamma! Your
Miriam: Never mind, Rebecca.
Rebecca: It was your favorite.
Miriam: I will get another, with
Rachel: Aunt Miriam . .
Miriam: Yes, Rachel?
Rachel: Look . .
Miriam: I see . .
Rachel: Reyna .
Miriam: Yes .. .
Auctioneer: (his voice is now
heard. He holds up Rachel's doll): I
have five! I have five! Look at this
beautiful doll! Look at the lovely
blue eyes! What am I bid? I have
five! Any more?
Auctioneer: I have six! I have
six! Any more? Sold for six! (He
passes the doll to someone in the
Rachel: Aunt Miriam .. .
Miriam: Yes, Rachel . . .?
Rachel: Please . . . Let's go . .
Miriam: Yes, Rachel .. .
Barsimson: (comes from the
crowd toward Rachel): Rachel!
Rachel: Yes, Mynheer?
Barsimson (hands her the doll):
Barsimson: I bought her for
Rachel (taking the doll): Oh,
thank you, Mynheer! (Hugs the
doll.) Oh, Reyna ... Reyna ...
You're back .. .
Miriam: God will remember you
for this, Mynheer. Come, children.
It's late. Bedtime.
Rachel: Good night, Mynheer.
Barsimson: Good night, Rachel.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 1989
Rachel: Say good night to
Barsimson: Good night, Reyna.
(Miriam, Rebecca, and Rachel
Asher Levy: Jacob Barsimson.
Barsimson: Yes, Asher Levy?
Asher Levy: You're a poor man.
Asher Levy: Much too poor to
buy dolls for little girls.
Asher Levy: Then why, Jacob?
Barsimson: When you spoke
with the Governor you made a
pledge for all of us. "As long as we
dwell in this land we will see to it
that we ourselves take care of the
needy among us." Remember?
Asher Levy: Yes, I remember.
Barsimson: Who among us has
greater need than little Rachel? You
made a pledge for all of us. I had to
redeem this pledge! (They begin to
walk off very slowly as the Narrator
speaks. They talk in pantomime.
Their walking should be timed so
that they leave the stage just as the
Reyna has long been lost, or
found rest on a museum shelf.
Rachel is only a misty memory.
Barsimsonn and Asher Levy are
enshrined in history.
For, by their struggles has been
forged this Land of the Free.
From the ragged twenty-three
The greatest Jewish Community
the world has ever known.
Reprinted with permission.
From Shofar Magazine. October 22,