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  • Family and Society
  • Names and Name Changing

European vs Hebrew Surnames


Various Rabbis

8 Iyyar 5765
Rav Kook ztl criticized Eliezer Ben Yehuda for advocating the change from european surnames to hebrew. Rav Kook said that these european names were part of a person’s "jewishness" and therefore valuable and worth maintaining. In the Brit Milah ceremony it says very powerful and profound things about one’s hebrew name. And, it is a widespread custom in Israel to use a hebrew surname. Where do you stand on this?
The reason Rav Kook opposed to Jews changing their Europian Jewish names to Hebrew ones was that people were trying to detach themselves from Torah, and one of the symptoms was to let go of their old Jewish name. Today there are people, even among Rav Kook's students, who change their names to Hebrew ones, not because they want to detach from Torah, rather because they want to grow out of the Galut and connect themselves to the land of Israel and Hebrew names. Rabbi Ro'i Margalit
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