Berman’s Branches
Barbara Hacker Berman
Articles - What’s in a Name?

What’s in a Name?

Most Jews had no last names until the 1800’s. They were known as David ben Abraham, David son of Abraham, etc. They were forced into taking last names as their countries wanted to tax them and recruit them for the armed services. Some names were assigned, some were chosen. They used their occupation, town names, or characteristics.

Below are our family names with its explanation. The names were taken from Alexander Beider’s volumes: A dictionary of Jewish surnames from the Russian Empire and A dictionary of Jewish Surnames from Galicia.

Berman: Common name in Galicia. Bar is German for bear. Also a Hebrew masculine given name of Ber.

Druse: Druz, Ukranian for friend.

Farberman: Dyer

Feinstein: German for fine stone

Hacker: Woodcutter

Harris: Harris is not a name used in this area. There were no “H’s.”

Kauritz: From the town of Kaunitz

Kramer: German for small shop keeper, grocer

Nussdorf: German for nut village

Rogovin: From the village of Rogovoe

Rohr: Reeds or cane. In German Rohre means oven.

Schlam: German for mud; Hebrew from the masculine given name Salomon

Sokol: From town of Sokal

Stadler: Stadt is German for town

Sternberg: German for star mountain

Swerdloff: Sverdlov; from the village of Sverdly