RIP, EL Doctorow

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No relation? Not sure from where it originates, but ‘doctorow’ isn’t exactly ‘smith’.


Plus of course we’re all cousins anyways.

Leaving out those initial periods is gonna stop some hearts 'round here, el otro Doctorow.


Between אחינו כל בית ישראל and the Ellis Island name butcher club(or whaterver is equivelant in Canada).

Book Of Daniel really shines a hard light on an official antisemetic propaganda lynch of Julius, a simple courrier, but especially of known to be innocent Ethel Rosenberg.

Doctorow is a Russian name. Or at least, Cory is of Russian ancestry. All the surname databases come up with nothing, but I’m pretty sure Doctorow is just an Ellis-Island-ization of an original Russian spelling and pronunciation.

World’s Fair was amazing and led to some fantastic stories from a friend who was there. Much love and respect.

Doctorow is an anglicization of “Doctorovitch,” an Ashkenazi surname that means “Son of a doctor” (or more colloquially, “Son of a learned person”).

Though immigration officers in Canada and the USA were somewhat random in their anglicization, a common practice was to simply truncate the “vitch” from Russian surnames. Two unrelated people named “Doctorovitch” presenting separately at Ellis Island or Halifax were likely to walk out as “Doctorows.”

The Ashkenazi surnames were imposed on Russian Jews and German Jews by the tax authorities of their adopted countries. Census-takers brought the Jews in and assigned surnames to them. Sometimes this was in consultation with the people in question, sometimes it was done without their consent. Some of the surnames assigned translated as “Ugly” or “Stupid.”

The adoption of surnames by Jews (rather than the traditional patronymics – “Cory, son of Gordon”) made census-taking and tax collection possible.

Two Ashkenazis with the surname Doctorow are not particularly likely to be closely related, though, of course, there were a couple of severe genetic bottlenecks in relatively recent Ashkenazi history that means that most of us are fourth/fifth cousins – hence the prevalence of recessive genetic disorders like Tay-Sachs.

My grandfather came from a town in what was then Belarus, and is now Poland, called Nowy Swerzne. The town no longer exists. My parents met EL a couple of times and asked where his people came from and he thought they might have been close to there, but again, it doesn’t mean much.


Ha! I stand corrected! It is, in fact, very much like ‘smith’.

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