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In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

Tony's Son, Son of a Squirrel and Sunny Mountain

By Martin M. Bodek





http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | "Some are born great and some with a gift for laughter, others are born with a love of names." — George R. Stewart, author of Names on the Land

I think that's quite an appropriate way to begin our column. Shall we?

C. Toensing writes:

"My last name is Toensing. Ancestors came from area around Hanover, Germany. Have a friend who…said the name meant Tony's son. His doctoral thesis focused on the first names of male children in Switzerland over the centuries proving what country was in control of Switzerland at what time."

The name indeed means "Tony's son," but how it means Tony's son is fascinating. Let's see if I can do this in one breath:

Toensing is from the German Tonsing, which is a patronymic from the short form of the personal name Anthony.

Anthony is from the Latin personal name Antonius.

Antonius is an Etruscan name

The actual meaning depends on which language you ask. It is either priceless (Basque), praiseworthy (Latin) or flourishing (Greek).

Pshew! I can exhale.

The letter "h" was inserted in the name in the 17th century, when it was incorrectly assumed that it is derived from the Greek word anthos, which means "flower."

As for your friend's endeavor, it goes without saying that in regions with shifting borders and/or government control, given names and surnames do indeed often point to the geography and/or ruling entity at the time the name was given.

If I could have a look at your friend's thesis, I would greatly appreciate it.


J. Yampolsky writes:

…My maiden name was SOSLOW, shortened from SOSLOVITZ, but I think the original name (appearing on my father's birth certificate) was SUCOWITZ…YAMPOLSKY (from Poland over the ocean — literal translation? But they were really from Russia)…REIFF (barrel makers?)…GOLDFINE (my other grandparents' name, also from Russia)…SONNENBERG (sun on the mountain? — literal translation)

Your e-mail highlights that when discussing names of European origin, many consonants are interchangeable. For example, c and k, j and y, v and w and a host of others. (I still remember overhearing a European-descended patron in a restaurant asking for some "varm wegetable soup.")

Vowels, naturally, are interchangeable as well. The Russian language, for example, has a great many "iye", "oyeu" and "eieio" sounds (represented by one Cyrillic letter!) which are often replaced in our vernacular with decidedly fewer vowels. As well, umlauted letters are replaced with their umlautless counterparts and other vowels.

Your e-mail also brings to light the concept of compound artificial surnames, a phenomenon quite unique in Jewish surnaming.

These were brought about due to Jews in Europe lagging behind their secular countrymen in establishing a surname for themselves. This was due, in part, to Jewish reluctance to be identified by local governments, who were just as apt during certain parts of history to lower anything from taxes to pogroms upon them.

Edicts mandating the adoption of surnames in regions such as Galicia were declared in the latter half of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th.

In some instances, an expedited method of surnaming was to present an applicant with a list of prefixes in column A (such as Green-, Rosen-, Blumen-, Eichen, Silber-) and suffixes in Column B (such as —stein, -wald, -haut, -baum, -haus). If the applicant was reluctant or could not decide, a government official would usually make the decision (this is the genesis of some surnames considered insulting, simply brought about due to a bored government official in a sporting mood).

This is how some nonsensical artificial compound surnames came about, such as Greenhaut (green skin? Was the Incredible Hulk Jewish?), Rosenbaum (rose tree? Roses grow on bushes!) and Eisenberg (Iron Mountain? Weren't they incorporated two hundred years later?)

Having discussed these topics in brief (seriously, I just Cliffs Noted the heaviest books you've ever seen into a few paragraphs), let us explore your surnames one by one.

Soslow/Soslovitz: I could not find this name or the soslow/soslov prefix in any of the databases or books or foreign-language dictionaries in my possession (my collection is growing!) or at my disposal.

When this happens, I usually suspect a place name to be the cause of my research troubles, and so I spin the globe and seek out from where on earth — literally speaking — the surname might originate.

I found a place called Soslav in Russia, which could be the origin of your name. But if so, what does "soslav" mean? (note that place name origins are far harder to determine correctly as opposed to surname origins. There is too much wording corruption, bad record-keeping and folklore thrown in to the mix.)

I contacted a Russian acquaintance of mine, who spidered my request to her Russian colleagues. I was educated to a few possibilities.

1) Soslovie is the Russian term for hereditary groups such as nobility, clergy, townspeople and peasantry.

2) The name could be derived from "slav" itself, which obviously is derived from the Slavic people.

3) Slovo means "word" in Russian. Perhaps it's a reference to a writer or storyteller.


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Admittedly, my findings were unsatisfactory. Whereas I have felt that with past surname requests I left no stone unturned, here I felt I certainly did. I didn't feel like I had nailed it.

I reached out to a person by the name of Fred Hoffman, whom I consider my mentor in this field, but he prefers to be regarded as "a fellow student of names who has an edge in experience and whose analysis you find to be worth considering."

As he wishes.

He clarified some of the concepts discussed above and opined on the three possibilities presented.

1) Soslovie is doubtful as a root for the surname because of its very definition. Of the general universal surname categories (profession, location, patronym, descriptive), this falls far afield. What kind of surname is a societal class? For that matter, which one?

2) Slav could be the origin, but what to do with the So- affixed to the name?

3) Slovo is possible too, but not probable (if you're smarter than a fifth grader, you'll know the difference between the two), for the same argument. What to do with the prefix So-?

Soslav is actually a Russian word, which is the past participial of the word ssylat, which means to exile or banish. Certainly this is an odd surname appellation.

Let's shift gears for a moment. There are actually names I uncovered that contain the same prefix, but with a suffix that retains the same meaning in all languages we're discussing.

Soslovsky is found in the Ukraine and in Poland, and according to surname databases is derived from the word susel, which means a ground squirrel. In Russian the ground squirrel is suslik, while suslov means "must", or freshly squeezed juice.

Considering the good possibility that Soslovitz and Soslovsky have the same exact meaning, the determination of the exact definition now rests on defining exactly from where, geographically, the name originates.

Ukrainian or Polish? Let's say it means "son of the juice guy."

Russian? Let's assume it means "son of the ground squirrel." This won't be so far fetched. An ancestor may have resembled a squirrel, been near or surrounded by squirrels or heck, was a squirrely character.

As for Sucowitz, I'll need you to double-check that. I don't see any linguistic connection to Soslovitz and I'm suspecting a typo. I've already expended much energy on conjecture and have no more to spare.

Yampolsky: Ready for some deja vu?

"Sky" is commonly a Slavic suffix which means "person from." Hence, it indicates the surname is locational, from a place called Yampol.

Yampol was easy enough to find on a map of Ukraine. Spelling variants include Jampol and Yampil. I also came across the town in a book I'm reading called Hasidism: The Movement and Its Masters, by Harry W. Rabinowicz. The area is noteworthy for being the birthplace and sojourn for Jewish luminaries and the site, unfortunately, of many terrible pogroms.

So we've found the place easily enough, but once again, what does Yampol mean?

Not having a good grasp of the language in question, the best I could surmise was that it was derived from Mariampol, a name found in several European countries, whose name is taken from the Virgin Mary.

Not wanting to conjecture unprofessionally any further, I turned to my friend Mr. Hoffman once more (aw heck, why don't I just turn over the column to him?).

He advised that most eastern European place names that end in "-pol" take their root from the Greek word polis, which means "city." Annapolis and Minneapolis (shout-out to my in-laws!) come to mind. It might also come from the Slavic word meaning "field."

And I now understand that "Mariampol" means "Mary's city."

As for the Jam or Yam prefix, it's probably taken from John or Jan. The sound of an "n" can be modified to an "m" before the letter "p."

Hence, this would be "John's town" or "Johnville."

Mr. Hoffman then pointed me to a Ukrainian Wikipedia page that revealed the origin of the place name. I could only read it and sound everything out, but I couldn't understand it. He translated for me as follows:

"There are two versions on the origin of the name Yanpil (later Yampil). The first version is based on the assumption that the name Yampil came from the name of Jan Serdiutskyi, owner of the town and lands of "Jan's field." The second comes from the Turkish yam, a village, where travelers could change horses, and from the Greek polis, city."

So there you have it, and your choices are a) John's town, b) Johnville, c) the town where you can change horses.

Feel free to pick the one you find most amusing.

Reiff: Oh how nice! An easy one for a change! Just kidding, I enjoy the heavy research on some surnames ever as much as I enjoy some of the quickies.

It might be from the Middle High German reif, which means, yes, barrel or hoop or ribbon or cord, and is thus an occupational name for a cooper or ribbon-maker, or from a house or tavern with the sign of a hoop.

It may also comes from the personal name Riff, a short form of the Germanic name Richfrit, composed of the elements ric, or "powerful" + frid, or "peace."

Finally, it might be a nickname from the German word reif or "mature."

Goldfine: This surname is a variant of Goldfein, which itself is an inversion of the original Feingold, which is German for "fine as gold."

The name could be descriptive of a person's characteristics or perhaps his wares. All signs, however, point to it being a compound artificial surname, which we discussed earlier in this response.

These signs are a) The prefix is quite common with a great many choices for suffixes and vice versa, and b) inverted compounds point in this direction.

As a matter of fact, the noted German writer Emil Karl Franzos wrote a popular article (well, popular for all five people in my field) in the late 19th century called "Studies on Names."

In it, he detailed the phenomenon of compound artificial surnames and reported on one bored secular official's shenanigan afternoon, where he pulled compounds out of a hat and gave the inverted compound to the next person in line. Blaustein was named and Steinblau was named next. Goldroth was named, and Rothgold was named next, and so on until he tried something else to alleviate his boredom.

I suspect that Goldfine might very well have been part of such a surnaming skein. Of course, a family member may have inverted it intentionally to perhaps distinguish himself from like-named neighbors, but I believe the sporting option to be more likely.

Sonnenberg: "Sun" or "sunny mountain" in German. The origin of this surname has two equally distinct possibilities, which I cannot separate to give one more weight than the other.

On the one hand, this may also be an artificial surname because of the multiple prefix and suffixes and inversion possibility. The "n" in middle is a dialectic connector.

On the other hand, it could be locational, after one of various towns named Sonnenberg on the map in Austria, Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic.

Who'da thunk that the name in this article with the easiest definition would have its origin be the most difficult to determine with any kind of certainty?

Department of corrections: It seems that I did not make any factual errors that were noted by the readership. However, a handful of correspondents opined that in the case of locational names, finding the place on a map is not good enough. I must determine the origin of the place name as well.

For example, W. de Vriend wrote:

"There is another possibility with regard to the name Venter or "de Venter". In Dutch a "venter' is a peddler, usually a street seller of merchandise. It should be in any Dutch dictionary."

Hence, as you can see above, I have endeavored to do so and have picked up books such as the one quoted in the first line of this article and will read them cover to cover.


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Martin Bodek is not a professional surname onomastician, but he plays one for this column (and hopes to parlay it into a career). He is still researching the actual origins of his own last name. It is either Hebrew for "search" and implies an introspective sort, or occupational for "ritual slaughter inspector." It might also be from the German surname "Bodeker" which means a cooper, or barrel maker.

Martin is the author of "Bush II, Book I" --- the King James Version of the first half of the George W. Bush presidency. The 43rd president's "Decision Points" is out now in bookstores, but Martin promises that his version is funnier.


Previously:

And so, We Begin
Last, but Not Least




© 2010, Martin M. Bodek