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Friday, July 21, 2006


We received an invitation to a chasne from a friend, the bride's father. The families are associated with rather the chareidi community. As far as I know, of the grandparents six are or were Yekkish, one a (kosher) convert, and one nebbich e Polak. Or maybe more, what do I know?

In the names alone, there's so much to see, but see for yourself.

I. The bridal couple
I. 1. text
I. 1. a) Hebrew letters: אברהם - שמחה פרידה
I. 1. b) Latin letters: Simchah - Avi
I. 2 commentary
I. 2. a) order

The bride is on the left in both cases - coincidence? Or among Jews, the man is first, while in "general" culture's conventions, it's a matter of politeness to mention the woman first? If this is so, both would be sexist, or at least pronouncedly non-egalitarian.

I. 2. b) whatever (I'll stop that classification stuff, alright?)

- name of the guy: obviously he's normally called Avi, which is Israeli secular and increasingly "religious" (they're not Israelis). I'm not sure if he's called [a:vi] or [avi] though, the former would keep a diaspora touch, the latter would clearly be Israeli. (Note: there's no difference in vowel length in Ivrit, but here, the vowel would be perceived as short.) I guess in shul, he'd be called up as [avro:hom] or less formally [avro:m].

- name of the girl: called ['simxa], that is, with a clear [a] sound at the end, as opposed to Simcheh or Simchoh.

- The name in Hebrew is written strictly biblically, without the letter י. Oh, this is the time to point out it's not a gay marriage - though traditionally exclusively a name for Ashkenazi boys, Simchah is mmeile a girl!

- The second part is a kinnuy: Freide, Fraade or Fraide (from older German and Yiddish vreude or vröude, meaning delight, pleasure; not at all a rare name in Ashkenez), maybe hypercorrectly Fraida (I've seen hybrid Yiddish-Israeli forms like that). I'll ask some time and update the post. Could be the German name of Fri(e)da as well, some great-grandmother's name maybe.

- Written with a פ: the פֿ is seen less and less, and unless the name is in fact Frida, the diphthong is written with only one י, as if biblical. Same is true for the ending ה instead of א.

Kalle's parents: Zwi and Mirjam צבי אליקים ומרים:

- He officially goes by the name of Harry, too, after a relative, but didn't like it many years ago, and is actually called (Reb) Tzvi by people (or an endearing secondary form of this), Tzvi Elyokim in shul. Names starting with an H are still coupled with the names of Tzvi and Naftoli, because formerly, bearers of those were very often called Hersh and Hertz, resp., in everyday life. That's where most of the Jewish Heinrichs, in Northern Germany and after immigration Henrys and Harrys come from.

- She's normally called Miryam or Miri (they're not Israelis either).

Chosen's parents: Josef and Rosie יוסף ישי ורייזל.

Of the grandparents, only three are alive, and so, mentioned (Latin letters only): the kalle's maternal grandparents Mr and Mrs Alexander __, and the chosen's paternal grandmother Alice.

That makes for the oldest generation: German names widespread among Jews (Alexander might have the Hebrew name of Aleksander as well). For the middle generation: two Biblical names in neutral/Christian writing and pronunciation (Mirjam, Josef), one Hebrew name (Zwi) that was consciously detached from its kinnuy, and one neutral, often Jewish name (Rosie) that corresponds to an older Yiddish form (Raizl) which is retained in the Hebrew version. For the youngest generation: Israeli names, with strong allusions to (family?) tradition.

Let me add that the family names are in one case written ivritishly, but if there's a tradition, this writing might be old as well, in the other case germanised, that is with a German mute letter imitated in Hebrew.

How much you can learn from a couple of names on an invitation.



Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Very interesting. I feel like similar trends are happening in other parts of the Jewish world.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006 1:49:00 PM  

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