Published October-08-09
Ask Rabbi Dan
by Rabbi Dan S. Wiko PhD
  Issue: 10.09
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I am researching my wife's Odessa's roots and I have found an ancestor whose name was 'Schachne Brickman'. He arrived in the US in 1906 and promptly became 'Charles Brickman. Is there a logical connection between the two names or does it appear that he might have simply settled on 'Charles' as a matter of fancy?

Back in those days, it was quite normal to anglicize a Yiddish or foreign name by using phonetics.

The joke going around many years ago was that a man named John Kelly applied for membership at a local shul. The name, of course, made him suspect. Upon talking to the man, who had a very obvious Yiddish accent, it turned out that when he entered Ellis Island, the agent couldn't spell, he made it John Kelly. It was a joke based on reality.

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