Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Rabbi Dave? The Litvak founder of the Manischewitz Matzo company, and other amusing notes from 1918.

I came across something that's kind of adorable.

As you can see, the founder of the Manischewitz dynasty is called "Dave Behr," which of course is simply the Lithuanian pronunciation of "Dov Behr."

It's from a 1918 book called Prominent Jews of America: A Collection of Biographical Sketches of Jews Who Have Distinguished Themselves in Commercial, Professional and Religious Endeavor. The entries are pretty interesting, especially because of all the yichus banter. This one is a descendant of "Elijah Wilner Gaon" through his son Abraham, that one is a descendant of Jonathan Eibschutz on his mother's side, and yet another one is a grandson (!) of "Jacob Emden ben Zwi Yawitz". This one's father was a dayan, etc. It also always mentions when they are a "former Yeshiba Bochur," or "Shomer shabas," and if they gave or are giving their children a "thorough Jewish education." One Hungarian immigrant to Ohio's views are described as follows:
"He is Orthodox in his religious views and is particularly interested in the education of children, He believes that by giving them two hours of daily Hebrew instruction, with a cantor to give them fifteen to twenty minutes of chanting, if applied to children between six and twelve, will produce a lasting influence and make them so profoundly religious that nothing on earth will ever change them. In his Talmud Torah, situated in Scovill avenue and East 55th street, 1,600 seats are provided for the children, who receive their Hebrew instruction in the method "Ibrit b'Ibrith," with services on Friday evening and Saturday morning and afternoon."

It is remarked about another, whom it is marveled that he and his two brothers remain Orthodox despite being born in the United States:
Mr. Harry Roggen was born July 4, 1880. He was married to Miss Hattie Goldberg at the Hotel Majestic in 1908 and they had the distinction of having the first wedding where Bnschen caps were distributed to the guests. This custom has since become quite general at Orthodox weddings in our large hotels.
Apparently this was all crucial information about moderately successful American Jewish businessmen of mostly Eastern European stock, a goodly number living in Ohio.


  1. לכמהר"ר מלך, יישר כחך

  2. Very clever, Sherlock. ;-)

  3. If by bnschen caps he means some type of bentcher, there is a rival claimant for that distinction: Papa of all for the boss fame is depicted as having started that custom according to daughter Racoma.

  4. I think he meant a yarmulke/ skullcap — for bentschen, making (or responding to?) brachos.

    I remember that bit in All For the Boss. If they meant the same thing, not that I think they do, then this wedding would have been earlier anyway, albeit not in NY.

  5. That's actually not the Litvish pronunciation of Dov (although I see why you might think that). That sound shift doesn't happen in closed syllables in words of Semitic origin. Put another way, it isn't Deyv in Litvish because it isn't Doyv in non-Litvish kinds of East Yiddish; I suspect Dave just seemed like the closest English approximation of Dov.

    Oh wait, but he's an ivris beivris guy. That might change things. I'm talking about the name Dov in Yiddish; this may not apply to self-conscious Ashkenazic Hebrew. Certainly in leyening the Hebrew word for bear is doyv/deyv (what M. Weinreich calls "whole Hebrew").

  6. Steg (dos iz nit der šteg)6:12 PM, September 03, 2012

    I know someone who used to be a big makher in the Judeoblogsphere who named a son of his "Dave" in English and "Dov" in Hebrew (on purpose!), because of Lithuanian pronunciation.



Related Posts with Thumbnails