Why are last names of the Jewish people made of German words?

Mar 2014
189
Europe
Hello.

Why are last names of the Jewish people made of German words? What is the story behind it?

I know so many Jewish last names, e.g.: Goldmann, Schlesinger, Schönfeld, Winternitz, Grünhut, Lederer, Eisner, Goldberg.

Thank you.
 
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Tulun

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
3,930
Western Eurasia


Then I think this wiki page would answer his question better :)

Jewish surname - Wikipedia

The process of assigning permanent surnames to Jewish families (most of which are still used to this day) began in Austria. On 23 July 1787, five years after the Edict of Tolerance, the Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II issued a decree called Das Patent über die Judennamen which compelled the Jews to adopt German surnames.[9][10][11] Prussia did so soon after, beginning with Silesia: the city of Breslau in 1790, the Breslau administrative region in 1791, the Liegnitz region in 1794. In 1812, when Napoleon had occupied much of Prussia, surname adoption was mandated for the unoccupied parts; and Jews in the rest of Prussia adopted surnames in 1845.[8][12]

Napoleon also, in a decree of July 20, 1808, insisted upon the Jews adopting fixed names.[13] His decree covered all lands west of the Rhine; and many other parts of Germany required surname-adoption within a few years. The city of Hamburg was the last German state to complete the process, in 1849.
[14]
 
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Nov 2016
1,573
Germany
The aforementioned Joseph II was very close to Freemasonry, which was the reason for his tolerance of Judaism. In my article on Freemasonry quoted below, I mistakenly called him "Masonic", but he did not personally belong to a lodge. However, his father Francis I. was a member of a Masonic lodge. His mother Maria Theresa, a conservative Catholic, was hostile to Freemasons after Francis I's death. After she died, Joseph II took office and made Freemasonry acceptable again.


Precisely because Freemasonry contained speculative elements right from the start (but not only because of this), it attracted numerous aristocrats and some monarchs in the 18th century, e.g. Frederick II of Prussia and Emperor Joseph II. Either way, the activities of Desaguliers and Anderson from 1717 marked an important turning point in the history of Freemasonry.

As was to be expected for the Middle Ages, the original Masonic worldview had a strictly Christian orientation. However, because only texts from the Old Testament (especially from ´Kings´ and ´Chronicles´) were explicitly used as a basis, it was wrongly assumed in the early 19th century that the ideological basis of Freemasonry was in fact Jewish and not Christian and that FM was therefore a product of Judaism. Therefore, around 1830, following Napoleon's emancipating revaluation of Judaism (1807) which was prepared by the Masonic Emperor Joseph II with his ´Patent of Toleration´ from 1782, anti-revolutionary circles formed the theory of a Jewish-Masonic world conspiracy and, as a result, thus brought forth the anti-Jewish paranoia of later National Socialism.
 
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betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,675
Jews in the Russian Empire etc. spoke Yiddish, which is mostly German with Hebrew and other influences. As discussed, in many areas they did not adopt surnames until after the French Revolution. Presumably, they were following practices from ancient times. Many Jewish names are occupational, as a high portion of Jews were artisans / tradesmen, particularly in high end trades. Hence, Goldman, Silverman, Muller etc. Sometimes German names have been Anglocized or Russified.
 
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AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,586
Italy, Lago Maggiore
Yiddish Jews have got German surnames [in large part]. Other Jews have got different surnames. For example, Italian Jews have got Italian surnames. Levi, Segre, De Benedetti ... but also evidently Jewish surnames like Cohen [really common the Italian version "Coen"] ...
 
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betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,675
Yiddish Jews have got German surnames [in large part]. Other Jews have got different surnames. For example, Italian Jews have got Italian surnames. Levi, Segre, De Benedetti ... but also evidently Jewish surnames like Cohen [really common the Italian version "Coen"] ...
Levi and Cohen both denote hereditary priests.

There is a Cohen who is rabbi and a Professor of Hebrew Literature and Philosophy and Harvard. Schools like that, particularly in humanities traditionally have had a lot of prep school types on the faculty, and it may have been harder for Jews. It probably helps him that he is a hereditary priest from ancient times.
 
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