Frequently Asked Questions - Family Names
- 1. I would like to know the meaning of my family name. What should I do?
The Memi De-Shalit Database of Jewish Family Names contains information about the meaning of Jewish surnames. Click one of the blue buttons above and search the database. You may also carry out a search while visiting the Study Room located at the museum lobby.
- 3. I found my family name in the Jewish Family Names database of Beit Hatfutsot. Is that proof that I am Jewish?
No. There are many surnames used by Jews and non-Jews alike. Click here for a general introduction about Jewish family names.
- 4. I did not find my family name in the Jewish Family Names database of Beit Hatfutsot. Is that a proof that I am not Jewish?
No. The Jewish Family Names database contains about 20,000 entries with many others being added constantly.
- 5. Can you tell me from the meaning of my surname to which tribe my family belongs or whether we are Cohanim?
No. For these questions, please seek the advice of a rabbi. However, there are some family names – Cohen, Levy, Katz, Segal and others – that according to the Jewish tradition designate descendants of Cohanim or Levi’im.
- 6. Does your database contain information about certain communities only?
The Memi De-Shalit Database of Jewish Family Names contains information about surnames from various communities.
- 8. What is the difference between the genealogy database and the database of Jewish family names? Is there any link between them?
The genealogy (family trees) database and the Jewish family names database are two distinct databases each containing information of a different type. The genealogy database contains a collection of family trees built and submitted by Jewish families from Israel and the Diaspora. The Memi De-Shalit Database of Jewish Family Names is based on research done by Beit Hatfutsot and provides explanations about the origin and the meaning of Jewish family names. It is possible that a family name will appear in the Jewish family names database but not in the genealogy database and vice versa.