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The need for a name change was probably obvious at an early age for this American-born Jew, who would later go on to become a leading comedic actor and stand-up act.
Famed director Woody Allen has become a household name due to such smash hits as “Annie Hall” or more recently, “Blue Jasmine.” Brooklynite Allen, born Konigsberg, has a strong Jewish connection too, as both his parents were second-generation Jewish immigrants.
The longtime late-night talk show host is also a Brooklyn native, like his fellow funnyman Woody Allen.
Everyone’s favorite “Golden Girl” was born in New York in May of 1926, the second of three daughters of Jewish parents. The world-famous magician and escape artist was born in 1874, in Budapest, Hungary, although for years he would claim he was born in Wisconsin, where his family later moved. Although he would later found classic 1970s rocker group KISS, Simmons was actually born in 1949 in Haifa, Israel. Perhaps this is something I should have known as a Jewish person who is reasonably literate and aware of public events but somehow the practice of European Jews changing  their surnames to sound more Hebrew when they went to Palestine eluded me. Couldn’t they have anticipated that name changes would mess with the heads of future family historians who were trying to find them, especially newbies like me? And couldn’t they at least have coordinated and chosen one name to change to per family? And that’s where the trail went cold.  What happened to the wife and the son who finished medical school and worked at Hadassah Hospital?
Then, happily, my friend Lydia found Ezriel’s mother, Chana Dwora Kornmehl, via a Yad Vashem testimony of her daughter-in-law, who signed herself A.
And on this, the 27th Day of the Family History Writing Challenge, I bid a fond farewell to the Doktors Kornmehl. I appreciate the personal touch you brought to the frustration of tracking descendants who changed their names. That article on Hebraization of surnames is actually quite tame in its description of Ben Gurion’s desire for Hebrew surnames.
An interesting name change I came across in my research was the change from Traurig to Al-Yagon.

Speaking of which there are two useful databases on the IGS site for searching these name changes.
I would just add that the first database (which was transcribed by volunteers from microfilmed lists of names) didn’t find a name I had previously found on there (several years ago), so it seems something is wrong with it. I would just suggest trying all three spellings (Sephardic, Ashkenazic, and Yiddish) when searching.
Thank you very much for adding your vast store of knowledge to what was, clearly, a superficial article. The gentile-named celebrities are often Jews trying to fit in with the gentiles trying to fit in with the Jews. As a Jewish child growing up Cambridge, Maryland, Frankel faced anti-Semitism from her peers, according the Jewish Women’s Archive.
Born in Jerusalem in 1981, Portman is arguably one of the most recognizable Jewish actresses today, something that is both a blessing and a curse.
For most of his childhood, Simmons was raised by his single mother, Flora, a Hungarian Jew and Holocaust survivor whose family perished in Nazi concentration camps. When a conversation with Hillel Koren, Viktor’s son, tipped me off that it had become popular,  I poked around and sure enough, there was an article in Wikipedia about the Hebraization of European Jewish surnames. I just want to put it on record that, although I very much understand the impulse of my ancestors to put the past behind them and deeply sympathize, I think they were being a little short sighted.
Viktor Kornmehl escaped from Vienna to Palestine, changed his name to Koren, practiced medicine, was the co-founder of a health insurance company, and had a very successful son, Hillel. Ezriel Kormehl survived the war and died of natural causes in his native Poland, but his wife, Ernestyna, and doctor son, Ludwig, went to Israel where they changed their name to Kornel.  Ludwig Kornel has two very successful sons, Amiel and Ezriel. The picture next to the title, from Wikimedia Commons, is of Gehenna or Jewish hell; oddly, it is an actual place called the Valley of Hinnom in Israel. I think I’ll send them your post to suggest they at least keep good records for future generations.
I know a few couples who have done that too, including one who just took a name that was totally different from both of theirs.

It was well know that for anyone to have any position in the government they had to have a Hebraized name – it was not a suggestion as the article implies.
My family’s last name was Traurig about 150 years ago, although not all Traurigs are related to me.
The second database is new to me, and it is a fully automated OCR database which makes you download a PDF of the files it find hits in, which is a bit awkward. How interesting about Ben-Gurion and how funny about the family that turned from Sad to Sorrowless. I am glad to know about Gehenna where I must go spend quite a bit of time, nice to know I am going to be meeting Jews there. Simmons and his mother eventually moved to New York City, where he learned English and began to become interested in the music scene. This information was not difficult to unearth because, happily, Hillel Koren, Viktor’s son, was considerate enough to keep in touch with Kornmehl relatives.
In my research I came across a Traurig family in Israel that changed their name to Al-Yagon.
What fascinating charachters and what a great job you did meeting the family history writing challenge!!! How you managed to do this daily log into the past, which was quite fascinating and detailed, and a major other project – well, good on you! I was even planning to go on a people-finder Israeli radio show that, with the time difference, would have had me trying to be coherent about the relatives whose trail had been lost at around midnight.
I’m not going to stop researching and blogging does provide accountability and focus.

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