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Lyakhovichi Names
Surnames, Double Names, Nicknames, Descriptives, Possessives, and Occupational Names by Deborah Glassman, copyright 2009

This is a page in our Indices section. Click the button labeled "Indices" in the left-hand column to reach all of the other resources of this area.

Lyakhovichi's Jewish Names - Possessive Names

There is a great deal to be said about names in Lyakhovichi and no one article, table, or index, can do the job in full. This page begins with a simple table. It is a list of Possessive Names reported for Lyakhovichi residents. Do you actually know your family's surname in Lyakhovichi, does one branch seem to call itself something else entirely, is there a great discrepancy between the reports of a maiden name in one official record or another? Is there a reason that three brothers state their shared mother's family name differently than each other?

One of the types of address which is totally lost to American audiences, is the "possessive" name. It is usually a compound formation - the main name of common usage of the subject, refined and defined by another person's common name. Because of a lack of shared punctuation between Yiddish language and the English language, the possessive form is not immediantly apparent on first encounter. The name Yitzhak Grunes looks like a simple first name and surname, but unless there is other evidence that this is a surname, it is likely that this name should have been transliterated as Yitzhak Grune's, that is the Yitzhak who belongs to Grune.

Describing Yitzhak or Zundel or Gedaliah, et al, by an associated person, is a very common practice reported for Lyakhovichi in particular and in the Russian Empire generally. The practice is not restricted to men either, women also are frequently reported with a man or woman's name in the possessive form.

If the first name and the possessive name belong to parties of the same sex, then the relationship being stated is that the descriptor name belongs to a parent or to a parent-in-law. Zundel Gedaliyahs in Lyakhovichi was Zundel son-in-law of Gedaliah (Karelitz or Karelitzky family). Michael Benyaminkes was Michael son of Benjamin (Lev family). Feiga Bashas was Feiga daughter of Basha (of the birth family Rabinowitz, Feiga's married name Baranek). See more examples in the table below.

If the first name and the possessive name belong to parties of the opposite sex then there are 3 possible relationships: spouse, parent, and parent-in-law. On first glance at the name Zelig Ittels you don't know if he is being called for a wife, mother, or mother-in-law. Actual report shows that his wife Ittel was also called Ittel Zeligs. Khaim Rabinowitz appears also as Khaim Bashas, he and his sister Feiga Baranek are both called in possessive form for their mother Basha Rabinowitz.

How is a matronym different from a female possessive name?Sociologically, a matronym is any name derived from a female's name, and it can be from a wife, mother, or mother-in-law. The main difference between a matronym and a female possessive name is that matronyms could become legal registered surnames which passed down to your children by law, and possessive names were entirely created by custom and use. Many legal surnames deriving from matronyms had endings of en or in - example -Dvoshkin, Bailken, Soshin, from women called Dvosha, Bailka, and Soshka. Possessive names for these same ladies would be Dvoshkes, Bailkes, or Soshkes, or if the more formal versions of the women's names were used: Dvoras, Bailes, and Sores.

Genealogical value of Possessive Names
The first thing that a possessive name does is give you the name of another key person in your subject's life. I knew that Michael Epstein was called Michael Dodes and that his father was Dodes Epstein, but why was this same man called Michael Agushkes? The new 1858-1884 Revision List Supplements ( Contact Gary Palgon to learn how you can contribute and view this new data now, long before it is available for publication) showed that Michael Epstein's wife had that name.

Look at what we learn in another case. Here, three men are defined by the double male name of "Boruch-Meir's". Shimmel Boruch-Meir's, Yayrshel Boruch-Meir's, and Berel Boruch-Meir's. Two, Shimmel and Yayrshel, are clearly identified as brothers and they turn out to be Shimmel and Yayrshel Berkovich. A review of the 1858-1884 Revision List Supplements and the 1874 List of Jewish Males of Lyakhovichi does not indicate a third brother for this family. We may have found a brother-in-law. We also see the father, a substantial taxpayer, reported in the records only as Boruch son of Sholom Berkovich. We may have found that he had a double name in the community, or we may have found Boruch Berkovich defined by the name of yet another generation, a father-in-law named Meir. Investigation should continue.

A work in Progress
This first table is created from only two sources - two memoirs of the town -
Images of Lechowitz by ChaimTzeitman on the Lyakhovichi Yiskor book pages, please hit back on your browser to return to our pages when you have finished
My Devastated Shtetl, by Avrom Lev, translated by Neville Lamdan.

The purpose of this table is to begin collecting data. We need your help to find more sources, extract the possessive names and let us know about your own research and family name-usage as well. I have not included footnotes with this edition, look for them shortly.

Name Used

First Name and patronym where known

Posessive Name

Probable Surname

From whom possessive name derived

Michael Agushkes

Michael son of David



He is called Michael Dodes for his father and Michael Agushkes for his wife

Peretz Alezar’s

Peretz son of



Eleazar –fthr or fthr-in-law, unidentified

Pinya Avraham-Yakov’s

Pinchas son of Avraham Yakov



Father Avraham-Yakov Kaplan

Feiga Avraham-Yankels

Feiga dtr of ? wife of Joshua



Father-in-law Avraham-Yakov Kaplan

Leibel Avram- Yitzhaks




Father or father-in-law, unidentified

Alter Bandes





Velvel Motte Barushkas




A woman named Barushka – wife, mother, or mother-in-law

Dinka Feiga Bashas

Feiga dtr of Yosef Rabinowitz (she married Zundel Baranek)



For mother Mrs. Basha Rabinowitz

Chaim Bashes

Khaim son of  Yosef Rabinowitz



For mother Mrs. Basha Rabinowitz


Mikhel son of Benyamin Lev



For father Benyaminkes Lev

Shaya Ber-Velvels

Isaiah son of ?



Ber-Wolf unidentified, father or father-in-law

Berel-Baruch Meirs




Most likely Boruch Meir Berkovich son of Sholom (as this is the name by which his 2 known sons are also called). Possibly Berel’s father-in-law as Berel does not appear with that surname in our late 19th century records

Schimmel Boruch-Meir’s

Shimmel son of Boruch



His father is called just Boruch in Lyakhovichi’s Russian Records records.  But since he and his brother are both called Boruch-Meir’s, the name is a double name not a separate possessive.


Gershel (his name is not clear in several places) son of Boruch



His father is called just Boruch in the printed Lyakhovichi records.  But since he and his brother are both called Boruch-Meir’s, the name is a double name not a separate possessive.


Moshe son of Khaim



For his father Khaim Varshall. Presumably his father used both names but only the Khaim appears in Russian records.

Lemke Daikhes

Aron Lemel son of Moshe



For his mother Daikha who was still living in 1874

Gedaliah Dodes




David ? father or father-in-law - unidentified

Shlomo Feivels




for his father Feivel.

Zundel Gedalia’s

Zundel son of Shamke [Shmuel]



Father-in-law Gedaliah

Pesach Hinde Rakhels

Pesach son of David

Hinde Rakhels


Hinda Rakhel his wife

Michael Kaile’s





Sore Kalman-Yosels

Sore wife of Zerach



Since we know her husband’s name we know that Kalman son or son-in-law of Yosel is her father or father-in-law

Meir Leibke's

Meir son of



Leib – father or father-in-law, unidentified Meir Leibkes was a cheder teacher.

Edel Meinishes or Edel Monyes

Edel son of ?



Father or father-in-law Menahem

Berl Mich'l Binyominka's

Berl son of Mikhael son of Benyamin Lev



For father Michael- Benyaminkes Lev

Dodka Mikhales




He is the son of Mikhales Dodes who was Michael b David Epstein


Leib son of?

Motte Sanke’s


Father or flw Mordechai son or son-in-law of Sanke. See 1858-1884 RL Supplementaries

Frumka Naftalkes

Fruma dtr of Khaim Miletsky



husband Naftali Garber

Avroml Raisels

Avrom son of




Chemya Shayels

Nechemya son of  Shevel [Saul] /Shaiyel



He is called Chemya Shaiyels for his father  Saul

Mordechai Shaiyels

Mordechai son of  Shevel [Saul] /Shaiyel



Called Mordechai Shaiyels for his father Saul

Zelig Shimmels aka Zelig Ittels

Zelig son of Shimshel Brevda. Zelig was married to Ittel

Shimmels and Ittels


For wife Ittel and for  father Shimshel

Dvora Yakov Moshes




For husband Rabbi Yakov Moshe

Important Notes about This Page

All names on this page were included in Surname Index Nov 2009

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