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


Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
Lorraine tudesque
Isleifson, my friend, first I thought that it would be the Jiddisch for thank you, but that is "dank". And now I see that it is Hungarian...Perhaps an Hungarian Jew...?

Kind regards, Paul.
Tulun is Hungarian.

Amitiés Isleif
Aug 2014
New York, USA
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.
This is correct. My own Jewish last name is traced to one of my g-g-g-grandfathers, who was a tin smith/tin maker in Russian empire (modern day Belarus), who used to make tin roofs for local Christian Orthodox churches and local manors for well to do merchants/minor nobility.
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.
People with Levi surnames are descendants of levites, who are a group of people that perform temple functions, not necessarily priests.
People who have Cohen/Coen/Kaplan surnames are descended from a lineage of kohanim, priests, who are a subset of levites. I believe even today in Israel, a kohen has certain restrictions on who he can marry.
Last edited:


Ad Honorem
May 2016
  • Like
Reactions: At Each Kilometer
Jan 2020
Yiddish was born originally a a neo Romance language. Askhenazi Jews are population genetically speaking half- Romans from Italy. Later they moved to the land of Franks than to Germans, their language and vocablary switched from neo-Latin to a rather Germanic language.

There are many evil false sterotypes about Jewish anthropological look since the emergence of anti-semitism (and especially nazis in Germany), but to tell the truth, If I want to depict Early Roman Empire or the Republican era Roman soldiers, I would choose Askhenazi Jewish actors to play the Romans, not only because of their very similar Roman-like genetics, but their shocking similar facial features to ancient Romans.
Last edited: