Re: Name on manifest list

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Come to the
27th IAJGS International Conference
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Salt Lake City July 15-20, 2007
Dear Cousins (and Lee),

Lee Kaplan asked, "I need assistance in deciphering the first name of
Herschal (sic) KAPLAN's brother... [he] arrived at Ellis Island on
2/15/1906... his occupation as 'joiner'..."

I reply,
By comparing with the handwriting on the rest of the page, it looks
like his brother's name was Judel, the Yiddish diminutive of Yehudah.
(Some knowledge of Yiddish names is also useful.) The English equivalent
is impossible to predict with certainty -- although the biblical English
equivalent is Judah, many (most?) immigrants used an English name to
become more assimilated, and the name Judah did not accomplish this, so
many chose something else. At that time, the general rule was that the
first letter or sound of the English name matched the Hebrew or Yiddish
name, so his chosen English name could have been anything starting with Y
or J. (Perhaps names like Joseph or Jacob, which match other Hebrew or
Yiddish names, were less likely than Judah, Julius, Jules).

But every rule, including this one, was often "broken." In this case,
a name starting with L could have also been chosen, because Yehudah was
often paired with the names Aryeh and/or Leib, so things become quite
complicated and challenging.

I think that the only way to prove the English name is to find the
brother by another method, such matching the address in a city directory
or federal or New York state census, or by knowing the name of his wife or

A joiner term for a carpenter or cabinetmaker that is obsolete in the
United States. I suggest reviewing the Jewishgen Discussion Group
archives at for
good comments that were made in this group several years ago.

Finally, the name Herschal appears to be a transcribing error in the
Ellis Island database, but it was written Herschel on the manifest.

Ira Leviton
New York, N.Y.
Sender: Ira Leviton <iraleviton@xxxxxxxxx>
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