Recalling Jewish Names and Nicknames from 1920s-1940s Newark

by Nat Bodian


In as earlier "Newark Memory" titled "Recalling Third Ward Family Name Changes in the 1920s and 1930s", I discussed the old Third WArd as a melting pot for thousands of immigrants from the shtetls of Eastern Europe who clung to the family names they brought with them.

However, as their American-born children completed high school, many proceeded to higher education and ultimately went into business, teaching, the health professions -- even into politics and the world of entertainment.

With their upward mobility, they began Americanizing their Jewish-sounding family names and I included a list of scores of such changes.

Another Jewish Name Curiosity

As the children of the old Third Ward and environs grew up in mostly Yiddish-speaking households, it was fairly common for their sons to continue to address relatives and friends -- and in many cases business and professional colleagues who were fellow Jews, by their Jewish first names.

Even as they rose to success in their business and professional life, this custom continued. As I myself, have displayed this type of camaraderie, I feel that the best way to explain it is that it is a sort of affectionate or brotherly bond between fellow Jews, as well as an expression of our common roots.

In this entry, I have searched my memory and discussed with friends and former Jews from the once-thriving Newark Jewish community this phenomenon and ask for their recollections of such Jewish first name usage.

The list following, in alphabetical order is a representative sampling Jewish names and nicknames, along with their matching given American names.

I have assembled this list as a 'labor of love', with help from friends, as a tribute to Newark's once-thriving Jewish community -- a community which no longer exists, except in the fading memories of its survivors.

Given Name Jewish First Name or Nickname
Abner, Abraham Abe, Abele, Boomie, Vroom
Benjamin Benyomen, Benyamen
Bernard Beryl
Chiam Hymie
David Dovid, Duvele
Eliezer Lazer
Elliott Yoel
Harry, Henry Chiam
Harold Heshie, Hershel
Herman Chayim
Hyman Hymie
Israel Isrelik, Srool
Irving Izzie, Yisrul
Isadore Itzig, Izzie


Jack, Jacob Yankel, Yankele, Yusheh
Jerome, Joel, Julius Yankel
Joseph Yussel, Yussele
Leon, Leonard Lebel
Louis Leibka, Lazar, Lemel, Labe, Lebel
Max Mutke
Martin, Marvin Muttel, Menachem
Monroe, Malcolm Moish, Moishe
Morton Muttel
Morris Moish, Moishe, Meyer
Meyer Mayer
Milton Munya
Manuel Mendel
Nathan Nachum, Naphthali, Nissle, Nissen
Pincus, Philip Feyvel, Pinky, Pinchas, Feyvish
Simon Shomon, Shimmy
Solomon Schlomo, Zalman
Samuel, Sam Schmuel, Schmiel, Shimmy, Samek, Shimon, Sook, Sookala
Sol, Saul, Solomon Schlomie, Sholem
Seymour Schmuel, Schmulik



William Velvel, Wolf



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