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Lucille Gudis Memorial Fund
The History, Adoption, and Regulation of Jewish Surnames in the Russian Empire
Sunday, April 30, 2017, 02:00pm - 04:00pm
Speaker: Dr. Jeffrey Mark Paull
Co-Sponsored by JewishGen.org at the Museum of Jewish Heritage
The history of the adoption, regulation, and use of Jewish surnames in the Russian Empire is quite complex. There were a myriad number of ways by which Jewish surnames were created, assigned, or adopted, while tight restrictions were placed on changing or altering surnames. As a result of Russian laws and mandates, many non-related Jewish individuals acquired the same surname, while many related family members acquired different surnames. This situation has created many challenges for genealogists who try to trace the ancestry or locate descendants of a particular Jewish lineage, many of whom have different surnames, as well as for interpreting the results of DNA tests for Jewish descendants.
The purpose of this presentation is to explain the various laws and mandates pertaining to Jewish surnames in the Russian Empire, so that those who are interested in Jewish genealogy will better understand the complexities of Jewish surname adoption and use.
Dr. Jeffrey Mark Paull was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA. He earned his BS in Chemistry and Master of Science in Industrial Hygiene from the University of Pittsburgh, and his MPH and Doctorate of Public Health from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Paull's career as an environmental toxicologist and scientific expert in the field of occupational and environmental health spans over thirty years (1976 - 2008).
Since that time, Dr. Paull has devoted himself to his passion for Jewish genealogical research and writing. His first book, entitled The History and Legacy of the Polonsky and Paull Family in America, traces his family's ancestry over a millennium of history, and discovers their lost rabbinical heritage dating back to Rashi (1040 - 1105). His book was recently featured on the PBS website, "Finding your Roots, with Henry Louis Gates, Jr."
Dr. Paull is very active in the field of genetic genealogy, and has published numerous pioneering autosomal and Y-DNA studies in which he has identified the unique genetic signature of some of Eastern European Jewry's most renowned rabbis, tzaddiks, and rabbinical lineages, including:
- The Savran-Bendery (Wertheim-Giterman) and Twersky Chassidic dynasties;
- The Katzenellenbogen and Polonsky rabbinic lineages; and
- The lineages of Rabbi Yuda Kahana, and the Shpoler Zeida.
Research studies to identify the Y-DNA genetic signature of the Baal Shem Tov, Rabbi Levi Yitzhak of Berdichev, and the Shapiro and Rappaport-Cohen rabbinical lineages are currently underway.
Dr. Paull is a highly requested speaker, and has presented talks at both the Boston and Jerusalem IAJGS Conferences, as well as at many synagogues, genealogical societies, and local JGS chapters around the country. His many genealogy-related book chapters, research articles, and publications are available for reading or download on Academia.edu, where they have surpassed 14,000 views.
Museum of Jewish Heritage
Free of Charge
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