Last Names

80+ Jewish Last Names That'll Have You Toasting "L'Chaim"

These names have roots all over the globe.

by Laura Grainger
Originally Published: 
Jewish baby wearing glasses in the bathtub with jewish last names around it

Just like the families they belong to, Jewish last names have roots all across the globe. And while Hebrew and Biblical names are mostly limited to a region, the same is not true of Jewish last names. In many cultures, it’s common for last names to come from the paternal side, but many surnames come from the mother’s as well. In fact, many Jewish people who lived in the Russian Empire during the 19th had last names that derived from women’s first names. In Jewish culture, last names also originate from places, like the town or region the family lived. For example, Asch is an acronym for the Aisenshtadt, Altshul, or Amsterdam and Bergman is also a common last name that means “from a hilly place.”

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 from others. Many common Jewish last names overlap with Slavic or German languages, while others sound straight-up Biblical. But why?

It’s all down to early migration, which brought about two groups of Jews separate from 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.

The 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 fewer 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, read 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, Russian, Spanish, Mexican, Brazilian, Portuguese, Italian, Hawaiian, British, French, African, Japanese, and Korean last names, among others.


Popular Jewish Last Names

1. Hoffman

Origin: Ashkenazi

Meaning: Steward or farm laborer.

2. Pereira

Origin: Sephardi

Meaning: Pear tree.

3. Abrams

Origin: Hebrew

Meaning: High father or reference 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/German

Meaning: Blue.

8. Friedman/Fridman/Friedmann

Origin: Ashkenazi

Meaning: Follower or servant of peace.

9. Horowitz

Origin: Ashkenazi

Meaning: A person from Horovice in Bohemia, which is 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/Yiddish

Meaning: Thimble or 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.

Bravo/T. Kyle

18. Efron

Origin: Hebrew

Meaning: Singing bird.

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 or those who occupied the Cassis valley in the Bible.

22. Bernstein

Origin: Ashkenazi

Meaning: Amber.

23. Geller

Origin: Yiddish

Meaning: Yellow, or reference 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/German

Meaning: Vineyard.

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: Behold a son.

35. Altman

Origin: Ashkenazi

Meaning: Old man.

36. Pasternak

Origin: Polish/Romanian/Russian/Ukrainian/Yiddish

Meaning: Parsnip.

37. Nahum

Origin: Hebrew

Meaning: Comforter or consoler.

38. Navarro

Origin: Sephardi

Meaning: Someone from the Navarro region in Spain.

39. Naftali

Origin: Hebrew

Meaning: Wrestling, struggle, or strife.

40. Nisim

Origin: Hebrew

Meaning: Miracles.

41. Åarons

Origin: Hebrew

Meaning: Shining light.

42. Abate

Origin: Hebrew

Meaning: High priest.

43. Babel

Origin: Polish

Meaning: Babylon.

44. Bach

Origin: Ashkenazi

Meaning: Stream or creek.

45. Camhi

Origin: Sephardi

Meaning: Wheat.

46. Ancel

Origin: Ashkenazi/French

Meaning: Servant or serving maid.

47. Arenberg

Origin: Ashkenazi/German

Meaning: Mountain.

48. Alterman

Origin: Ashkenazi

Meaning: Alter, Alt, or head of a craft building.

49. Abadi

Origin: Arabic/Sephardi

Meaning: Immortal, undying, or eternal.

50. Abeles

Origin: Ashkenazi/Dutch

Meaning: The white popular.

51. Benowitz

Origin: Eastern Ashkenazi/Hebrew

Meaning: Binyamin or son of the south or son of the right hand.

52. Berenson

Origin: Yiddish/German/Ashkenazi

Meaning: Bear or son.

53. Bing

Origin: Old English/German

Meaning: A dweller of the hollow.

54. Broder

Origin: Yiddish

Meaning: Brodsky or a common family name for people from Brody, an area in Ukraine.

55. Cooperman

Origin: Yiddish

Meaning: Copper or an occupational name for coppersmiths.

56. Diamond

Origin: Yiddish/Latin

Meaning: Diamond or invincible.

57. Barak

Origin: Ashkenazi/Turkish/Croatian

Meaning: Cottage, shanty, or cabin.

58. Baran

Origin: Russian/Slovak/Ashkenazi

Meaning: Ram or forceful.

59. Barber

Origin: Ashkenazi

Meaning: Blessed.

60. Bard

Origin: Ashkenazi/Yiddish

Meaning: Beard.

61. Bark

Origin: Ashkenazi

Meaning: Birch or a name for someone who lives near a birch tree.

62. Belman

Origin: Ashkenazi/French/Yiddish

Meaning: Beautiful.

63. Beloff

Origin: Belarus/Ukraine

Meaning: White or pale.

64. Bichler

Origin: Ashkenazi

Meaning: A seller of books.

65. Kleid

Origin: German

Meaning: Clothing or garment.

66. Klein

Origin: German/Dutch

Meaning: Small or little.

67. Bieler

Origin: German

Meaning: An occupational name for someone who uses or makes hatchets.

68. Landau

Origin: German

Meaning: Land or valley.

69. Lichtenberg

Origin: German

Meaning: Lighthill.

70. Ehrlich

Origin: Austro-Hungarian

Meaning: Honest.

71. Eisen

Origin: Austrian

Meaning: Iron.

72. Gelb

Origin: Yiddish

Meaning: Yellow.

73. Goldberg

Origin: German

Meaning: Golden town.

74. Hakimi

Origin: Arabic

Meaning: Wise.

75. Leiberman

Origin: Jewish

Meaning: Dear man.

76. Katz

Origin: Jewish

Meaning: Righteous Cohen.

77. Koppelman

Origin: Yiddish

Meaning: Jacob.

78. Margolis

Origin: Hebrew

Meaning: Pearl.

79. Mizrahi

Origin: Hebrew

Meaning: Easterner.

80. Nudel

Origin: Jewish

Meaning: Needle.

81. Efrat

Origin: Hebrew

Meaning: Fruitful

82. Margalit

Origin: Hebrew

Meaning: Pearl.

83. Abelman

Origin: German

Meaning: Noble one.

84. Acker

Origin: Dutch and German

Meaning: Plowed field or acre.

Common Hebrew Phrases

No matter where you are in the world, certain phrases have a way of making you feel you’re right at home with the fam. So, if you’re looking to expand your knowledge of Hebrew sayings, see below:

  • Shalom — Hello, goodbye, or peace
  • Slicha — Sorry or excuse me
  • Ma nishma? — How are you doing or what’s up?
  • Ma-yim — Water
  • Ayfo ha shirootim? — Where is the bathroom?
  • Lo tov — Not good
  • Metzuyan — Excellent
  • Tsohora-eem tovim — Good afternoon
  • Ma shimkha? — What’s your name?
  • Mamash — Absolutely
  • Ma taim can baezor? — What’s good to eat here in the area?

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