While we tend to associate Ashkenazi Jewry with the Germanic- and Slavic-speaking countries they inhabited for most of the past millennium, there is no question that Ashkenaz was birthed in France and has its roots along the Mediterranean, drawing from older Greek and Italian Jewish communities. This is evidenced by some Yiddish names that have survived until this very day. For whatever reason, Jewish female names tend to draw from a much wider pool of sources than their male counterparts, and this list will therefore focus on male names, where Hebrew and German dominate.

Greek Names

Klonimus: Often given together with its diminutive form of Kalman, Klonimus has been a Jewish given and family name since the Klonimus family (whose many members were actually named Klonimus) rose to prominence in the 8th century. It means “good name,” a contraction of the two Greek words kalos (“good”) and onyma (“name”).

Alexander: Alexander the Great was regarded favorably by the Jews of his time, who were grateful for his respectful stance toward the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and the autonomy he granted them. In gratitude, the Jews decided that all male priests born that year were to be named Alexander, and the name stuck. In Yiddish, it is often followed by its diminutive form of Sender.

Todros: Related to the common non-Jewish name Theodore, it is a combination of the Greek words Theos, “G‑d,” and doro, “gift.”

Feivel: The original (and still used) form of this name is Feivish, a corruption of phoeubus, “bright,” in Greek. Feivel is often appended to Uri (Hebrew for “fire”) and Shraga (Aramaic for “lamp”).

Names from the Romance Languages

Feitel: Despite their similarity, Feitel and Feivel are not related. Chaim (“life”) is a fairly popular Hebrew Jewish name. Its Latin counterpart, Vital (or Vidal), is common among Sepharadim, whose roots lie in Spain. A notable example was Rabbi Chaim Vital, 16th-century expositor of the teachings of the great mystic, the Arizal. It lives on in Yiddish in the (slightly modified) form of Feitel.

Bendet: Baruch (“blessed”) is a common Hebrew given name. It is sometimes followed by Bendet, a corruption of Benedict, the Latin word with the same meaning.

Bunim: Often paired with Simcha, Hebrew for “joy,” this name’s meaning is not entirely clear. Some contend that it is a contraction of bon homme, “good man,” while others suggest that it is from bon nom, “good name.” If this is the case, it would actually be the Latin counterpart to Klonimus.

Shneor (?): This name, which means “two lights” in Hebrew, is said to have been given by a parent who wanted to name a child after two deceased ancestors, Meir and Yair, both of which are related to ohr, Hebrew for “light.” The compromise was to name the child Shneor, indicating that he is named for both illustrious ancestors. Some note that the name is uncannily similar to senior, Latin for “elder.”