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Subject: Re: "Jewish" surnames?
Author: kynaston   (guest)
Date: April 8, 2005 at 4:02 PM
Reply to: Re: "Jewish" surnames? by Jen

Sorry about my previous post, I sort of had too many thoughts in my head and couldn't get them out properly.

This label of 'Jewish names' is necessay because the names it covers are unique to the religion or have a specific etymology based on a Hebrew related language. Also surnames are not only listed as nationalities but also as languages, and Muslim names are often called Muslim names not necessarily Iraqi etc.

"why do you assume Jews in particular did not take the tongue of the country to which they moved...? "
Of course they took on the language of the country they inhabited and I never suggested otherwise but you cannot possibly deny the influence Hebrew would have had on the language that they used, eg. Yiddish (that's all I was saying).

I myself have Jewish blood, and personally don't see what there is to take offence at, for me when looking up my ancestors find that gaining information from surnames helps.

"My name is not "Jewish," and it is uncommon in the US though common in Germanic countries. "
Every classification has exceptions of course, I'm sure many people with English surnames are not English or do not have English blood. I'm sure that there are people with surnames considered Muslim, that are Christians.

"To ask me my nationality--where is my family from--and expect Jewish rather than German as an answer is prejudiced."
This I find rather strange. If I asked you where your family came from (and they came from Germany), I personally would expect you to say Germany not Jewish - that makes no sense. But I personally find that all the categorization of certain surnames as Jewish adds an extra dimension to the history of a name, it's shows that your family were not only German but (probably) of Jewish extraction. I would rather my surname (Brown - yawn) told me more about my history and ancestry and if my surname could tell me my more I would be happier not offended.

I don't have an arguement against you being offended, I don't see what offends you, but it's up to you. I personally have never met another Jew who found the classification offensive (there was even a Jewish website that was claiming non-Jews with Jewish surnames - such as Ben Cohen, who has Jewish ancestry but isn't Jewish himself - as a joke) and I'm sure you will find that most experts on Jewish surnames are in fact Jewish.

But the only reason that the Jewish surnames are singled out is because they can be, would you expect information on the surname Cohen etc not to mention that it was in fact a Jewish surname - what would be the point in not acknowledging information known to be true.

My Jewish ancestors surname was Braham which has two different possible etymologies - one Jewish (from Abraham) and one English (a place name). I also know of Jews whose surnames are not considered Jewish (as yours probably isn't) which I'm sure is pretty common. As well as non-Jews with surnames considered Jewish.

"Hope this helps you understand a little bit."
Sorry about that, reading that back, that sound really patronising - believe me it wasn't meant that way. Sorry.

"Of course it wasn't informative, other than to show why, perhaps, there is the bias on the existing list of nationalities."
I'm sorry I rambled a bit but as you say before it's really complicated but I don't believe there is a "bias" about Jewish surnames. It's just a classification that is meant to inform the person who wants the information.

If you don't want to inform people of your history which is basically what your surname does (as people called Kennedy - which means "ugly head" probably don't) then change it or don't tell people. If you don't mind people knowing about your ancestry then keep it.

I'm sorry that I annoyed you, I genuinely didn't mean to. I was just trying to explain a lot of things and did so badly, which I probably have done again. I'm sure you'll tell me. ;)

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