Ramygala Shtetle

                          Finding Our Roots


KehilaLinks Logo

"If you want to succeed in your future, don't ever forget your past".

What is in a name?  

Ashkenazic Jews were among the last Europeans to take family names. Some German-speaking Jews took last names as early as the 17thcentury, but the overwhelming majority of Jews lived in Eastern Europe and did not take last names until compelled to do so. The process began in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1787 and ended in Czarist Russia in1844.

For centuries, Jewish communal leaders were responsible for collecting taxes from the Jewish population on behalf of the government, and in some cases were responsible for filling draft quotas. When these tasks became centralised, last names became essential.

The easiest way for Jews to assume an official last name was to adapt the name they already had, making it permanent. This explains the use of “patronymics” and “matronymics.”

PATRONYMICS (son of…. or just of….) 

In most Slavic languages like Polish or Russian, it could be “..wich”; “..owitz”; “..off”; “..of”  or “..witz.”  In Yiddish or German, it would be “..sohn”, or “..son” or “..er.”  In Persian it could be "..zada." An example could be Zusman who became Zusmanovitch.  Nokhum’s children could have assumed the name Nokhumovich.

Some of the most common patronyms of the fathers name “Abraham” could include :- Abramovich, Abramson, Avraham, Aknin, Vaknin, Abrahams, Abrams, Abramoff, Abramsky, Ben Avraham, Avrahami or Abramzada

MATRONYMICS (daughter of…) 

Some families made last names out of women’s first names. Glickman could be derived from the girl’s name Glickl.  It could also be the derivative of glick meaning ‘lucky’.  Golman could be husband of Golda. Bluma could become Blum or Blumstein and Esther becomes Esterman.

ANIMALS:-  Many names may have an origin in the animal kingdom or mythological roots.  Leibovich could be “the lions son”. Leib meaning lion in yiddish and the vich being the patronymic for son.  Volf or Volfovich could be from Wolf, the symbol of the Tribe of Benjamin 

Occupations:-  In our list of names we have Faber who could have been a painter od Dyer.  Miller who could be descended from a miller. Vald means wood so could not Valdman have been a woodsman or forrester. 

Mr.- Mrs. or Ms.   Lithuanian naming convention adds specific endings to a surname, which indicate whether an individual is single, married, male, female, etc.  For married women the surnames have the ending “..iene” so Mrs Kagan would be listed by the data collector as Kaganiene. 

Daughters and single women would have “..aite”, “..iute” or “..yte” added on to the fathers name, depending on the ending of the fathers name.

For a male, the suffix can appear as “..as”, “..(i)us”, or “..is”.

Thus we could have, living in the same home, and all related, Kaganas being the father, Kaganiene being the mother and baby Kaganaite the daughter


For a listing of family names that can be found in the GewishGen databases, click on the links below. Only family names, given names and in most cases, fathers name are listed on this web site. Your own research will show up more information about the person or family.

Link to JewishGen.org http://www.jewishgen.org/databases/#Lithuania


Names A to E      Names A to E      Names A to E     Names A to E

   A to D                        E to G                           H to J                       K


Names A to E      Names A to E      Names A to E     Names A to E 

    L                                     M                            N to Sh                    Si to Z


For more reading go to:- 










This page is hosted at no cost to the public by JewishGen, Inc., a non-profit corporation. If it has been useful to you, or if you are moved by the effort to preserve the memory of our lost communities, your  JewishGen-erosity   would be deeply appreciated.   

 Link to Kehilalinks

web page


Link to:-

JewishGen Home Page



Compiled by

Alan Nathan



 (C) Alan Nathan 2016