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A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire Hardcover – January, 1993

3.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 760 pages
  • Publisher: Avotaynu (January 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0962637335
  • ISBN-13: 978-0962637339
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 9 x 11.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,546,750 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Russian born, with a PhD., living in France, writing in English, Beider is a bona fide genius -- an intellectual athlete on the scale of a William Dembski. If you think he is wasting his time with such a topic as the origin of Jewish surnames, read the introduction to this book. The project is fascinating and immensely complicated. In German speaking countries Christian civil authorities were generally responsible for the surnaming process in the late 18th century. In Pale of Settlement within the Russian Empire, Jewish authorities were responsible for the adoption of surnames. Some names came from German, Russian, Yiddish and Hebrew words, or occupations, or personality traits. Some names came from localities. Some could come from Jewish given names. Some were patrynomics. Some were of compound or highly ambiguous orgins. Most were fluid. The complexities are staggering, and it took someone with the care and analytic skills of Beider to start to sort this all out.

To get a picture of the debates see Beider's recent review of Lars Menk and Heinrich and Eva Guggenheimer's books, in Avotaynu journal XXI: 2 (summer 2005), pp.35ff. Beider shows Menk to be a qualified success, and Guggenheimer to be a muddled trainwreck. I don't think most of us would be equipped to navigate through the issues involved without Beider.

The book consists of two massive works -- 1. a huge introduction that charts out all the debates and argues for his approach. And 2. an enormous dictionary of zillions of surnames. This book, while staggering in detail, is not yet comprehensive. For example, only 2 of the 10 surnames I am most interested in from Elizavetgrad (Kirovograd) central Ukraine (Kherson oblast) were listed at all.

In any case, it is indispensible for anyone with interest in 18th and 19th century Jewish Russia.
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Format: Hardcover
An essential, well-produced and rich resource for anyone interested in his/her Jewish (Ashkenazi) roots. Well-documented with excellent chapters on different kind of surnames.Suitable for 19th century Jewish historians as well. A treasure.
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Format: Hardcover
However extensive is the list of Jewish surnames in this book, the interpretation of these names by the author should be always taken with a grain of salt. A.Beider often takes the first plausible explanation of the name without checking it against available historical records or even common sense.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Not the complete reference that I was hoping for. There are a lot of references to many different Jewish surnames but the info is not so conclusive and leaves much to be desired. It can be helpful as a starting point for researching last names. That's why I bought a used copy at a much lower price.
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