A Ketubah Mystery

7 Dec

My maternal grandparent’s ketubah has presented a mystery!

I know for a fact that my great grandfather’s name was Gimple.  That name is what was used in the Yad V’shem testimony that describes his death in the Shoah.  That is the name my grandfather always used when discussing his father.  That is the Hebrew name that was given to my cousin when he was born in 1949 in memory of him.

So why does it say my grandfather’s Hebrew name is Nisan ben Mordechai haCohen, Nisan the son of Mordechai the Cohan?

I was stunned.  I immediately put the Ketubah up on Tracing the Tribe Facebook page for help.  And yes, the name is Mordechai.  Was my grandfather hiding something from us all these years?  I don’t think so. His parents were his parents. But this seemed odd!

Then I thought could this possible be one of the many paired names, but one I had not heard of before?  For example, my paternal grandfather’s Hebrew name was Hirsch Zvi. This is a common paired name as one is Yiddish and other Hebrew for deer. But I had never heard that Gimple was a pairing for Mordechai. 

Thanks to the Tracing the Tribe group, I have since learned that it is. But a bit different.  It does not mean the same thing, but rather they were paired together. It seems Gimple started first as a surname and then eventually became a first name.  I started searching.  And I found response to someone else asking the same question.  It seems in Poland, where my grandfather was from (when it was Poland, sometimes it was Austria), there was a double name for Mordechai Gumpel, Mordechai Gumplein, Mordechai Gumplin and Mordechai Gumprecht, accorded to a Professor G. L. Esterson in Israel.  He supposes that since Gimple is so close to Gumple, that Gimple is also a double name with Mordechai!!!

Then another member of Tracing the Tribe sent me the link below to the Jewish People’s Museum in Israel.  It had an entire page dedicated to the name Gimple and its relationship to Mordechai! The names were paired together, as stated by above by Esterson! Confirmation!

To be honest, this makes so much sense, in my family because my great grandfather was the only man I have found named Gimple.  However, there are many men named Mordechai over the generations before the Shoah.  I wonder if his mother was trying to help end confusion by calling him Gimple, but giving him the Hebrew name Mordechai?  I will never know!

However, I now have to come to my son’s generation.  My son is named for my grandfather, Nisan.   He is also named for my husband’s uncle, Mordechai.   Thus, by happenstance, my son is also named for two generations at the same time, both his great and great, great grandfathers!  Is that not a weird coincidence!!

Sometimes looking back at old documents can improve our knowledge of our family.  I knew I had the ketubah. I had looked at it before. But because it was in such a bad shape, I just kept it put away and did not really examine it.  Today I decided to take a photo to keep its information safe as it continues to deteriorate.  Then I enlarged it on my phone, and there was the information that I had not noticed! 

Another Mystery solved thanks to Tracing the Tribe.

(In an addendum, I asked for help from Tracing the Tribe in deciphering the names of the witnesses, even though I knew they were not relatives. So just so my family knows. Their names were Benjamin son of either Yehoshua or Yehuda, the Levi. And Shlomo the son of Mendel.)


7 Responses to “A Ketubah Mystery”

  1. Amy December 7, 2020 at 4:06 pm #

    As soon as I saw your question on TTT, I knew a blog post would be coming soon. So glad you found the answer.

    Have you tried to find a safe way to preserve the ketubah? For example, keeping it in a acid and moisture resistant container? Or reframing behind glass that will protect it from the light? It would be a shame if it were to deteriorate further.

    • zicharon December 7, 2020 at 4:14 pm #

      I have a good friend who is an artist and also use to do framing. I also have their NY license from September 1925. Perhaps I can frame them together. I will have her look at them and go with me. Thanks for the idea!

      • Amy December 8, 2020 at 7:16 am #

        Good luck!

  2. Sharon December 7, 2020 at 6:19 pm #

    Such an interesting post. I have never noticed any naming customs in my family. I am going to have to take a better look 🙂 I love the idea of framing these together!

    • zicharon December 7, 2020 at 8:58 pm #

      Thanks. I do as well. I will wait till after the hollidays I think. Too crazy right now.

  3. Luanne December 8, 2020 at 5:37 pm #

    Amazing ketubah except for the unfortunate damage, of course. I have never heard of double names before but I will keep it in mind as I continue to research my husband’s family. Very interesting.

    • zicharon December 8, 2020 at 10:33 pm #

      There are several that are very common like Menachem Mendel and Hirshman Zvi, but Gimple/Mordechai was new to me!

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