Volume 43 Number 85
                    Produced: Tue Aug  3  8:51:21 EDT 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Alexander as a "Hebrew" name
         [Gilad J. Gevaryahu]
The Cohanin Haploid Italians Hungarian Kurds and Lemba
         [Martin Stern]
The Cohen Modal Haplotype
         [Tony Fiorino]
"Dropping the dime"
         [Jonathan Sperling]
Inviting deceased relatives to a simcha (2)
         [Gershon Dubin, Joel Rich]
Levi gene
         [Nathan Lamm]
Names - Alexander, Changes
         [Nathan Lamm]
Naming not an urban legend
         [Edward Ehrlich]
Pnei Yehoshua
Sefardim in Europe
         [Eli Turkel]
         [Nathan Lamm]
Sleeve Length
         [Martin Stern]
Too few Leviim[Levites]
         [Ben Katz]


From: <Gevaryahu@...> (Gilad J. Gevaryahu)
Date: Mon, 2 Aug 2004 14:53:40 EDT
Subject: Alexander as a "Hebrew" name

    My Hebrew name is Alexander after my grandfather. I was told that there
    is a tradition that as a sign of gratitude towards Alexander the Great
    who maintained a friendly attitude towards the Jews, all male babies
    born in a particular year in Eretz Yisrael were named Alexander and the
    name has since been handed down generation to generation. Has anybody
    ever heard of this tradition?

The source for Alexander being a Hebrew name, according to Rabbi Moshe
Feinstein _Igrot Moshe_ (OC 5:10) based on Tiv Gittin 42 is the book
Yosifoon. R. Feinstein says: "vehechnisu shem Alexander bichlal shemot
Ivriyim, she-lachen kotvim shem Alexander kemo im haya shem Ivri
me-olam" [and they added the name Alexander amongst the Hebrew names as
if it was a Hebrew name all along. My free translation GJG]. This source
repeats the story that all Kohanim [this source limits it to priests]
born on that year were named Alexander.

I did not verify the story's quote from Yosifoon.

Gilad J. Gevaryahu


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, 02 Aug 2004 21:33:37 +0100
Subject: Re: The Cohanin Haploid Italians Hungarian Kurds and Lemba

on 2/8/04 8:56 pm, Robert Schoenfeld <frank_james@...> wrote:

> The southen and central Italians may be from conversions, and the
> Hungarians from theit KHazar anscestors. These could mean that all of
> these were at one time Jewish

If the Hungarians have Khazar antecedents (which I very much doubt) they
may have had some Jewish ancestry but this would have been from converts
and not have included any Kohanim.

In 43#78 Iris Engelson wrote "Genes are not, in fact, immutable and the
absence of such a gene merely decreases the probability that the
individual is a direct descendant, via the paternal line, of Aharon
HaKohen: it is certainly not 'conclusive evidence'" I accept that my use
of this phrase was inaccurate and i should have written 'strong

Martin Stern


From: Tony Fiorino <Fiorino@...>
Date: Mon, 2 Aug 2004 16:18:33 -0400
Subject: RE: The Cohen Modal Haplotype

> From: Robert Schoenfeld <frank_james@...>
> There might be another explanation for the Cohani hapliod 
> appearing among other than Jews. For instance the Lemba claim 
> Jewish decent, The Kurds are in an area that the Aaayrians 
> sent Isrealis to after they conquered Isreal, The southen and 
> central Italians may be from conversions, and the Hungarians 
> from theit KHazar anscestors. These could mean that all of 
> these were at one time Jewish

Given the fact that this marker appears in high frequency in some of
these populations, one would have to assume there were a remarkably high
percentage of kohanim in the initial populations. Unlikely for exiles
from the 10 tribes and we have no reason to suspect an unusually large
population of kohanim in Italy in antiquity. As for the Hungarians being
descendants of the Khazars, the Khazars were allegedly converts to
Judaism - and thus should have among them no kohanim and no one
possessing the Cohen modal haplotype to pass on to their descendants,
Jewish or otherwise.



From: Jonathan Sperling <jsperling@...>
Date: Mon, 2 Aug 2004 16:12:10 -0400
Subject: "Dropping the dime"

Anonymous inquired (MJ 43:83) about the halachic issues invovled in
informing secular authorities of potentially dangerous building code
violations by Jewish neighbors.  Rabbi Michael Broyde wrote an extensive
article about these issues a few years ago in the Journal of Halacha and
Contemporary Society.  It can be accessed at

Jonathan M. Sperling


From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Mon, 2 Aug 2004 20:23:11 GMT
Subject: Inviting deceased relatives to a simcha

From: <Joelirich@...> (Joel Rich)

<<I think the "olam" holds they do know, but I often think that's based
on our own psychological needs rather than a complete analysis of all
the sources.>>

It's the subject of a discussion in the Gemara, with the story of the
two girls who went out to explore the world.  Perhaps someone with a
better memory or a search engine can give the exact cite.


From: <Joelirich@...> (Joel Rich)
Date: Mon, 2 Aug 2004 17:16:23 EDT
Subject: Re: Inviting deceased relatives to a simcha

I gave a shiur on this once. The sources are:

Brachot 18(your story and others), Taanit 23, Taanit 16, sotah34.

Enjoy, let me know your conclusion, then see Michtav Meliyahu on the
Yamim Noraim for a novel and scary approach to reconciling the sources

Joel Rich


From: Nathan Lamm <nelamm18@...>
Date: Mon, 2 Aug 2004 15:06:32 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Levi gene

Re: Bob Werman's comment: I don't see how a gene transmitted through a
maternal line- through mitochondrial DNA- can have any bearing on this
discussion. Being a Levi comes from the father.

Re: Robert Schoenfeld's suggestion that Hungarians have the "Cohen gene"
through the Khazars: I'm not sure the ethnicity is the same;
furthermore, converts would not be kohanim.

Nachum Lamm


From: Nathan Lamm <nelamm18@...>
Date: Mon, 2 Aug 2004 15:23:43 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Names - Alexander, Changes

Is there any specific source for the Alexander story?  Isn't it possible
that Alexander was simply a popular name? After all, many other
non-Jewish names have worked their way into becoming "Jewish" names that
are used for aliyot, etc.

(To put it another way: If the story is true, why are there no Sephardic
"Alexanders?" Or are there?)

I've always been told that our name was changed when my grandfather came
to America because the Polish government at the time (in between the
world wars) didn't recognize Jewish religious marriage ceremonies.  (Did
they recognize only Christian? Or even civil?) As a result, many Jews
whose parents had only had a chuppa but were never licensed did not have
valid marriages, and the children where considered illegitimate, and
only having a mother. When those children had their first encounter with
the civil authorities- namely, when they needed to get a passport- they
were told that they had no father, and where given their mother's name

Therefore, my grandfather had thought he was Kupferman his whole life,
but was given a passport as Lamm, his mother's maiden name.

As it happened, there were other factors involved in my family story
(explaining why we never switched back), so I was unsure of the
story. However, as the years have gone by, others (including a classmate
named, of all things, Kupferman) have told me that this story sounds
somewhat similar to their own. More recently, I've seen that while the
Chofetz Chaim went by "(Ha)Kohen" or "Kagan" (the same in Russian)-
received from his father, of course- as a last name, his "official" last
name was Poupko- his mother's maiden name, given when he got a passport.

So: Can anyone confirm the Polish legal facts here?  Did many Jews have
civil ceremonies? Did many Jews change their names back to the original
when they arrived at their destinations?

Nachum Lamm


From: Edward Ehrlich <eehrlich@...>
Date: Mon, 2 Aug 2004 20:19:31 +0300
Subject: Naming not an urban legend

Lynn Zelvin wrote:

>Whatever it is, it is not an urban legend. Out of my great-grandparents
>and in some cases great-great-grandparents who came to the U.S.,
>roughly half had some sort of name change, either dramatically (in the
>case of Shushanski becoming Shore) or less dramatically (as
>Rokeach-Block was shortened to Bloch). One family name ended up being
>spelled a dozen different ways throughout the extended family. It was
>these people who told their children who told their grandchildren, who
>told me that it was the immigration officers who shortened or modified
>their names. did the story get changed through it's re-telling? Did
>actual memories fade and communal experience replace memory? Or did
>people's names get modified despite the presence of translators because
>immigration officers were tired or sloppy or just didn't care? Whatever
>the case, that's not what you call an "urban legend".

I respectfully disagree with Lynn and the others who sent me and the
list similar replies.

This issue has been discussed at length on JewishGen which is a mailing
listed dedicated to Jewish genealogy.

Here's one of the many messages dealing with the issue:

>There will be NO citation about changes of name at Ellis Island because
>no names were "assigned" You were whatever was on the passenger list
>(made in Europe or onboard ship) and, at least in the earlier time
>period, you called yourself whatever you wanted-there was no 'name
>change' procedure required. If your name was
>Zyxwvutsrqponmlkjihgfedcbaski and you decided Cohen was better, you
>called yourself Cohen and told others to call you that. (JewishGen Fri,
>22 Jun 2001 11:37:57 -0400)

In short, any name change took place before embarkation in Europe or
onboard when the names were entered onto the ship's passenger list, or
after immigration procedures were completed and the immigrant was
already living in the United States.

The stories about name changes by immigration officers on Ellis Island
seem to persist because they're so often wonderfully, amusing stories.
But they're not true.

Ed Ehrlich <eehrlich@...>
Jerusalem, Israel


From: <Shuanoach@...>
Date: Mon, 2 Aug 2004 20:15:42 EDT
Subject: Pnei Yehoshua

Does anyone know where i could find information on the removal of the
pnei yehoshua from the rabbinate in frankfurt?



From: Eli Turkel <turkel@...>
Date: Mon, 2 Aug 2004 21:59:10 +0300
Subject: Sefardim in Europe

Actually, according to one of my relatives who is very into genealogy,
there were Sephardim all over Lithuania at the time of the Gra

Nevertheless I think sephardim were rare in Eastern Europe at this time.
There is a statement attributed to R. Chaim Volozhin that anyone who
does not speak yiddish is not considered a Jew. Obviously this is not a
halcha but a fact. He did not account for sephardi Jews since that was
not who he cam in contact with. Again, he would certainly agree that the
Chida was Jewish though he probably did not speak yiddish even in his
travels around the world. OTOH sefardim who lived in Russia probably
learned yiddish just as today many sephardim in Israel are fluent in
yiddish from their days in an Ashkenazi yeshiva.

Eli Turkel


From: Nathan Lamm <nelamm18@...>
Date: Mon, 2 Aug 2004 15:07:39 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Shtreimels

Martin Stern posits a reason why only rebbes wore shtreimels. I always
assumed there were practical reasons: They're expensive, and the hamon
am couldn't afford them until they came to the "goldeneh medinah."

Nachum Lamm


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, 02 Aug 2004 18:04:21 +0100
Subject: Re: Sleeve Length

on 2/8/04 12:45 pm, Aliza Berger <alizadov@...> wrote:

> This point underlay the psak I received from Orthodox Rabbi Charles
> Sheer, Hillel rabbi at Columbia University. He said (I am paraphrasing
> here) that women are required to dress one degree more modestly than
> women in general society, e.g. loose pants instead of tight jeans,
> short sleeves instead of sleeveless.

This 'psak' seems very strange if Aliza has quoted it correctly.  Could
she possibly check with Rabbi Sheer and get his psak in writing with
relevant sources for us.

This 'hetter' may have been much more limited than she seems to imply,
in particular it might have been limited to students who would not have
taken on the full halachic requirements but might have accepted a
limited version.  If so, it should not be publicised as normative

A similar situation was a psak by Rav Ovadiah Yossef to an Israeli
religious girls' school in which he stated that pants were preferable to
miniskirts.  Without reading the full teshuvah one might think he was
permitting women to wear pants whereas he was in reality only pointing
out that they were the lesser of two evils and banning them would only
lead to even worse breaches of tsniut.

Martin Stern


From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Mon, 02 Aug 2004 18:30:37 -0500
Subject: Re: Too few Leviim[Levites]

>From: <RWERMAN@...> (Bob Werman)
> ...
>More disturbing is the genetic evidence among Ashkenazi Levis [the
>Sephardic study is not done yet].  A common gene has been found, passed
>on maternally [mitochondrial DNA].

         This doesn't make sense.  Levi status is passed down through
the father.  Mitiochondrial DNA is passed on thru the mother, so how
could it be a mark of Levi-ism?


End of Volume 43 Issue 85