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HERSKOWIC Origin of surname


Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is a patronymic surname based on a male ancestor's personal name, in this case of biblical origin.

The surname Herskowic, in which the Polish/Slavic suffix "-owic" stands for "son of", is based on Hirsch and Hersch, which are 'kinnu'im' ("secular equivalents") of the biblical male personal name Naphtali. Naphtali was Jacob's second son by Rachel's handmaid Bilhah, and in his blessings to all his sons (Genesis 49), Jacob compares Naphtali to a swift "hart or stag", which is Hirsch in German and Hers(c)h in Yiddish.

An additional incentive for such names was personal by the popular belief that the strength and energy of the animal could, in some magical way, be transferred to the infant as a source of vitality and power. In the 20th century Herskowic is recorded as a Jewish surname during World War II with David Herskowic who was deported from France to the German death camp at Auschwitz in August 1942.
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Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
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