36 Common Jewish Last Names/Surnames and their Meanings

36 Jewish Last Names That’ll Have You Toasting “L’Chaim”

December 20, 2019 Updated September 20, 2020

Just like the families they belong to, Jewish last names have roots all across the globe. And while Biblical and Hebrew names are mostly limited to a region, the same is not true of Jewish last names. Judaism’s extensive history is obviously not limited to the Middle East, but it’s useful to have a little more context as to why some Jewish surnames sound so different to others. Many common Jewish last names overlap with German or Slavic languages, while others sound straight up biblical. But why?

It’s all down to early migration, which brought about two groups of Jews separate to those who lived in the Middle East and North Africa since biblical times (known as Mizrahi Jews, from the Hebrew for ‘Sons of the East’). These Jews lived (and their descendants now live) in parts of Turkey, Syria, Morocco, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Algeria, Tunisia, Afghanistan, Armenia and Israel. ‘Ashkenazi‘ (from the Hebrew word for Germany) refers to the Jews who settled in Germany and Eastern Europe between the 13th and 17th centuries, while ‘Sephardi‘ (from the Hebrew word for Spain) refers to Jews who lived in Spain and Italy from the end of the Roman Empire until the 15th century.

Persecution of both groups led to further migration. Descendants of Sephardi Jews now live in parts of Northern Africa, Spain, France, England, Italy, and Holland, while Ashkenazi Jews are still largely based in Germany, Poland, Russia, and other areas of Eastern Europe. Modern Israel is also home to a roughly even number of both, and the Middle East is still home to many Mizrahi Jews.

Ashkenazi Jewish last names therefore refer to names bore by Jewish families that are spelled in either German, a Slavic language or Yiddish (a Hebrew-Germanic language used solely by Ashkenazi Jews).  Sephardi Jewish surnames can be a little harder to recognize because of their mostly Italian and Spanish spellings. And since 80 percent of the world’s Jews are Ashkenazi, there are considerably less Sephardi Jewish names. Mizrahi Jewish surnames can have Hebrew, Arabic or Aramaic roots.

All that said, Hebrew names are still common within all groups, and even non-Jewish families today bear last names with biblical, Hebrew origins. Oh, and you’re not the only one searching for them and their meaning, either. According to the latest search data available, Jewish last names are searched for nearly 15,000 times per month. Now you know the rich history behind them, get to reading our list of popular Jewish last names and their meanings!

If you’re interested in the last names and meanings of other countries, check out our package on last names from around the world. See how many you recognize: Irish, French, Russian, Spanish, Mexican, Brazilian, Portuguese, Italian, Japanese, HawaiianBritish, and Korean last names, among others.

jewish last names
Nickelodeon
  1. Hoffman
    Origin: Ashkenazi
    Meaning: Steward or farm laborer.
  2. Pereira
    Origin: Sephardi
    Meaning: Pear tree.
  3. Abrams
    Origin: Hebrew
    Meaning: High father, referring to the prophet Abraham.
  4. Haddad
    Origin: Mizrahi
    Meaning: Blacksmith.
  5. Goldmann
    Origin: Ashkenazi
    Meaning: Gold.
  6. Levi/Levy
    Origin: Hebrew
    Meaning: Descendant of Levi, the third son of Jacob and Leah.
  7. Blau
    Origin: Ashkenazi
    Meaning: ‘Blue’ in German.
  8. Friedman/Fridman/Friedmann
    Origin: Ashkenazi
    Meaning: Follower or servant of peace.
  9. Horowitz
    Origin: Ashkenazi
    Meaning: A person from Horovice in Bohemia (now known as the Czech Republic).
  10. Abulafia
    Origin: Sephardi
    Meaning: Father of wellbeing.
  11. Blum
    Origin: Yiddish
    Meaning: Flower.
  12. Kantor/Cantor
    Origin: Ashkenazi
    Meaning: A synagogue singer.
  13. Fingerhut/Vingerhuot
    Origin: Ashkenazi
    Meaning: Stemming from the Yiddish word for ‘thimble’, this is an occupational name for a tailor.
  14. Leib/Leiberman/Leibermann
    Origin: Yiddish
    Meaning: Dear or beloved.
  15. Cardoso
    Origin: Sephardi
    Meaning: From a place with an abundance of cardoon plants.
  16. Bensaïd
    Origin: Mizrahi
    Meaning: Son or descendant of Said.
  17. Cohen
    Origin: Hebrew
    Meaning: Priest.

    jewish last names
    Bravo/T. Kyle
  18. Efron
    Origin: Hebrew
    Meaning: A biblical place name referring to a mountain and a city.
  19. Abutbul
    Origin: Mizrahi
    Meaning: Father of tambourines.
  20. Schechter
    Origin: Yiddish
    Meaning: Ritual slaughterer or butcher.
  21. Abecassis
    Origin: Sephardi
    Meaning: Father of Cassis, referring to those who occupied the Cassis valley in the bible.
  22. Bernstein
    Origin: Ashkenazi
    Meaning: Amber.
  23. Geller
    Origin: Yiddish
    Meaning: Yellow, usually to refer to people with lighter hair.
  24. Nazarian
    Origin: Mizrahi
    Meaning: Son of Nazar.
  25. Bensoussan
    Origin: Sephardi
    Meaning: Lily flower.
  26. Melamed
    Origin: Hebrew
    Meaning: Teacher.
  27. Weinberg
    Origin: Ashkenazi
    Meaning: ‘Vineyard’ in German.
  28. Stern
    Origin: Yiddish
    Meaning: Star.
  29. Benveniste
    Origin: Sephardi
    Meaning: Welcome.
  30. Obadia
    Origin: Mizrahi
    Meaning: Servant of God.
  31. Becker
    Origin: Ashkenazi
    Meaning: Baker (of bread or tiles).
  32. Chason/Chazen
    Origin: Hebrew
    Meaning: Cantor.
  33. Ackerman
    Origin: Ashkenazi
    Meaning: Ploughman.
  34. Rubin
    Origin: Ashkenazi
    Meaning: From the name Reuven. Often the French occupation of jeweler from ruby (rubi).
  35. Altman
    Origin: Ashkenazi
    Meaning: Old man.
  36. Pasternak
    Origin: Polish, Romanian, Russian, Ukrainian, and Yiddish
    Meaning: Parsnip

Read more: 30 Italian Last Names That Are *Chef’s Kiss* Bellissimo!