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Jewish Americans changed their names, but not at Ellis Island

A well-worn joke in American Jewish culture goes like this.

A Jewish immigrant landed at Ellis Island in New York.

  • Kirsten Fermaglich
  • The Conversation

The procedures were confusing, and he was overwhelmed by the commotion.

When one of the officials asked him “What is your name?” he replied, “Shayn fergessen,” which in Yiddish means “I’ve already forgotten.”

GEI 1aThe official then recorded his name as Sean Ferguson.

Today, members of many white ethnic groups – including Jews, Italians and Poles – believe that insensitive or ignorant Ellis Island officials changed their families’ names when they arrived in the…

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