In the 16 and 17th centuries, authorities in Central Europe began to force Jewish families to adopt fixed hereditary family names. Many Jews then formed European-sounding family names that were in fact Hebrew acronyms.

The German-sounding name ("cat" in German) is actually an acronym of the Hebrew "Kohen Tzedek", which means "righteous priest".

Name Equivalences: Hebrew-Yiddish-Secular

Leo Katz

Leo = Lion = Leib in Yiddish

Hebrew Name Equivalence
Hebrew Name: Yehudah
Biblical Symbol: Lion
Hebrew Kinnui: Aryeh
Yiddish Calque: Leib

So Leo Katz' birth was probably recorded under one of these names:
- Yehudah Katz
- Aryeh Katz
- Leib Katz
- Or any combination?

Birth registers in Poland would not have him under Leo as this is a German translation which must have been used later. We must then assume that his birth was registered either as Aryeh (Hebrew) or Leib (Yiddish).

I was told that Eliezer was his Hebrew name, but this is probably a mistake as it's not the translation for Leo, and no entries have been found for Eliezer Katz in the Sokal birth registries.

Herz Wolf

Biblical associations:

Binyomin was equated to a wolf, thus the Yiddish name Wulf.

Naftali was compared to a deer, a running stag; the Yiddish word Hirsh means deer.

Calques:

Ze'ev Wulf is another common pair - both mean wolf in Hebrew and Yiddish, respectively.

Tzvi and Hirsh mean deer or stag;

So Herz Wolf / Naftali's birth could be recorded under:
- Herz / Hersz / Herzt / Wolf
- Naftali
- Biniamin / Beniamin
- Or any combination?

Hebrew Name Equivalence
Hebrew Name: Naftali
Biblical Symbol: Deer
Hebrew kinnui: Tzvi
Yiddish calque: Hersh
Hebrew Name Equivalence
Hebrew Name: Beniamin
Biblical Symbol: Wolf
Hebrew kinnui: Ze'ev
Yiddish calque: Vulf

So Herz Wolf = Naftali Beniamin?

Aron Katz

Aron is the same in Hebrew and in German, so Aron Katz didn't change his name, which is why his name was found in the birth registery.

References and Links of Interest:
The Origins and Meanings of Ashkenazic Last Names. Bennett Muraskin, in jewishcurrents.org.

This family history project started September 2009.
All photos and documents belong to the author and are © Daniel Abraham, except for maps and where indicated.
This is a work in progress. Please contact me if you have any more information to contribute.

Last Modified: Saturday, October 14, 2017