Medieval Naming Guides: Jewish

Jewish Names

Jewish naming practices were not the same everywhere in the medieval and renaissance western world, but there are some common practices. A Jewish man usually had two names, one in Hebrew and one in the local vernacular. Jewish women usually used only vernacular names. Men's Hebrew naming practices, being dictated by religious tradition, varied less from one region to another than vernacular naming. The ways Jews were named in the vernacular varied considerably. In some cultures, they used names indistinguishable from their neighbors'; in others, Jewish vernacular names were quite distinct.

It is worth noting that while some modern Jewish naming practices can be found duplicated in some times and places in the Middle Ages, others are modern innovations.

Names of Rabbis in Pirkei Avot (2nd century), by Yehoshua ben Haim haYerushalmi
A list of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek names from a chapter of the Mishna.

Jewish Names from the Roman Catacombs, by Eleazar ha-Levi
Jewish names from catacomb inscriptions in ancient Rome. Many show the influence of Roman naming patterns.

Database of Medieval Jewish Names, by Julie Stampnitzky
An ongoing collection, organized by period and location. It includes a glossary of titles and bynames.

Names of Jewish Men, 6th to 11th Centuries, by Julie Stampnitzky
A list of about 120 names of early medieval Jewish scholars.

Khazarian Names, by Kevin Brook
Part of a website devoted to the culture of Jewish Khazaria.

Jewish Names from 9th C Venosa, by Aryanhwy merch Catmael
Names of men and women. The forms have been modernized.

Names from Hebrew Chronicles of the 10th to 13th Centuries, by Julie Stampnitzky
A collection of names from chronicles relating to the Jewish communities in Germany and France. The discussion covers both names and styles of address.

Jewish Naming Conventions in Angevin England, by Eleazar ha-Levi
A very fine survey of Jewish names from the late 11th through the 13th centuries.

Jewish Given Names Found in Les Noms Des Israilites en France, by Aryanhwy merch Catmael
The data is drawn from sources that from the Carolingian period through the Renaissance, and includes names of Jews in other countries than France.

Names from Hebrew Chronicles of the 10th to 13th Centuries, by Julie Stampnitzky
A list of names of Jews, mostly from Germany, many from France, and a handful from Rome and England.

Jewish Women's Names in an Arab Context: Names from the Geniza of Cairo, by Juliana de Luna
A study of women's names in a collection of 11th to 13th century documents. Some of the documents are available, in Hebrew, in the Princeton Geniza Project.

Jewish Names in the World of Medieval Islam, by Yehoshua ben Haim haYerushalmi
Another study of Jewish names based primarily on the Geniza data (see previous), but including some other sources and covering men's names as well as women's names.

Names from The Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela, by Eleazar ha-Levi
Names used by Jews from around the Mediterranean, from a book written by a twelfth-century Jewish merchant.

An Index to the Given Names in the 1292 Census of Paris, by Lord Colm Dubh
An alphabetical list of one example of each separate given name appearing in the census. Gender is indicated by the associated byname. At the end of the article, the editor has provided a separate list of the names of Parisian Jews, which are distinguished in the original source. This link points to the Jewish name list, which illustrates how Jews used French naming conventions.

Jews in Catalonia: 1250 to 1400, by Juliana de Luna
An analysis of several hundred names from wills.

Medieval Spanish Jewish Names of the 13th and 14th Centuries, by Juliana de Luna
A small collection of Jewish names from Castilian and Navarese sources.

Names of Jews in Medieval Navarre (13th-14th centuries), by Lidia Becker.
A discussion of Sephardic naming practices, including given names and types of bynames.

A sample of Jewish names in Valencia 1293-1485, by Yehoshua ben Haim haYerushalmi
A collection of names, showing given and surnames of both men and women, from this province in eastern Spain.

Jewish Physicians in Southern France in the 13th and 14th Centuries, by Eleazar ha-Levi
Names of Jewish physicians practicing in the Occitan region of France between 1273 and 1421. Some names have been normalized or translated into English.

Jewish Women's Names in 13th to 15th Century Navarre, by Julie Stampnitzky

A Jewish Memory Book: Nuremburg, 1349, by Eleazar ha-Levi
Names of Jewish people massacred in the German city of Nuremburg in 1349.

Spanish Names from the Late 15th Century, by Juliana de Luna
This article contains some examples of Jewish names.

Names of 15th-early 17th C Italian Jewish Men, by Aryanhwy merch Catmael
Names of Jewish merchants living in Italian-held cities in Turkey and Cyprus.

Names of Jews in Rome In the 1550's, by Yehoshua ben Haim haYerushalmi
An analysis of several hundred men's and women's given names from mid-16th century court records.

A sample of Jewish names in Milan 1540-1570, by Yehoshua ben Haim haYerushalmi
Several dozen full names, mostly masculine but a few feminine.

Jewish Names in Ottoman Court Records (16th C Jerusalem), by Mari Elspeth nic Bryan
Feminine given names and bynames from court records in Arabic and Turkish.

On the Evolution of Jewish Names, by Eleazar ha-Levi
A survey of Jewish names in the ancient, classical, and medieval worlds.

Sources for the Study of Medieval Jewish Names: An Annotated Bibliography, by Julie Kahan
Suggested sources for further research.

The Medieval Names Archive is published by Ursula Georges. It was historically published by the Academy of Saint Gabriel.
Copyright on individual articles belongs to their authors.