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

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,586
Italy, Lago Maggiore
I tend on repeating that in Italy German surnames are not so common for Jews [so that the OP generalizes in a wrong way]. Possibly this page can be an introduction to the history of the Italian Jewish community: https://dbs.bh.org.il/place/rome
 
Aug 2014
304
New York, USA
I tend on repeating that in Italy German surnames are not so common for Jews [so that the OP generalizes in a wrong way]. Possibly this page can be an introduction to the history of the Italian Jewish community: https://dbs.bh.org.il/place/rome
Only Ashkenazi Yiddish-speaking Jews have German surnames. A lot of Italian Jews were/are not Ashkenazi. Similarly, middle-eastern Mizrahi jews do not have German surnames either. For example, Paula Abdul is a Mizrahi jew, and obviously last name "Abdul" is not Germanic in origin.
 
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At Each Kilometer

Ad Honorem
Sep 2012
4,125
Bulgaria
Romaniotes are Yevanic speaking Jews from what was Romania / has nothing and everything to do with Rome / Romania was the medieval Eastern Roman Greek-speaking empire. The endonym of the Italian Jews or the real Roman Jews is Italkim. The history of the different Jewish communities is idd fascinating.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
23,447
SoCal
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.
Yep, the similarity of German to Yiddish could help explain why Jews in the Russian Empire had German-sounding names.
 
Jan 2020
130
cumberstone
The history of Ashkenazi Jews is interesting, this ethnically half-Roman half-Jewish origin people spoke neo-latin (romance) language, than they later moved from Italy to France than to Germany than to Poland... and their language switched from romance to Germanic language. Regarding to their ethnic origin, they are more Roman than the Romance speaker Spanish, French or Portuguese people.

Historically speaking the "Roman-Jews" ethnonym would be more expressive for this ethnic group, than the so-called Ashkenazi ethnonym.
 
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