Family Names: Frequently Asked Questions
- 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 HERE and search the database. You may also carry out a search while visiting the Study Room located at the museum lobby.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.