Originally published in the Journal of Jewish Studies 31:2 (1980), p. 271.
Benzion C. Kaganoff, A Dictionary of Jewish Names and their History, Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, 1978. xiii, 250pp. £5.95.
Rabbi Kaganoff, in his introduction to this well-researched study, notes that since Zunz wrote his Die Namen der Juden, 140 years ago, no book has ever been published in English on Jewish family and first names and there are only occasional articles on the subject. His book aims at filling the gap. Although, as the author states, the work is far from comprehensive and the emphasis is on the names of Jews in the U.S.A., there is sufficient information to render the book very useful to anyone interested in the general history of this fascinating subject. Much incidental information is gleaned. To give but one example, the fairly popular family name among Oriental Jews—Mashiah—was first adopted by the followers of Shabbatai Zevi.