What Does the Name Feldman Mean?

In Yiddish or German, a “feld” is a field.  When used as a name, it can have prefixes or suffixes.  For example, the names Feldman and Rosenfeld, contain “feld”. 

The name is not attached to any particular person so it is considered an “artificial” name meaning.  However, it could mean that the original bearer of this family name lived, or had another connection with the countryside.

This surname is associated with a locality near Klagenfurt, Austria, called Feld.

Feldman was an especially common name among the Jews of Western Ukraine, Eastern Galicia and Bessarabia. These areas,  in the early 19th century, had a considerable Jewish rural population

According to Ancestry.com, Feldman is an Ashkenazic “ornamental” extension of Feld and it is also the Americanized spelling of the German Feldmann.

Similar surnames: Felman, Heldman, Fellman, Fieldman, Waldman, Kelman, Folkman, Follman

Our Feldman Beginnings

At this point in time (2019) we know little about our ancestors before they immigrated to the US.

My great-grandfather, Morris Feldman, was from Bessarabia, while his wife, my great-grandmother, came from Odessa. Morris was born about 1872 while Esther was born about 1875.

Morris’ parents were Raphael Dov Feldman and Braine Burdman.

  • Raphael appears as a given name many times in the Prussian database on the Jewish Gen site.  That is the only place I found the name Raphael.  In that database, Raphael appear several times dating back to the early 1800’s. It was common for names to be handed down from grandfather to grandson so my guess is the Raphael I found could have been a grandfather to Morris’ father.
  • I could only find the name Burdman in the listings under Bessarabia.
  • I found out via my Facebook Genealogy Group “Tracing the Tribe” that Braine was a common Yiddish name in Germany and also in Bessarabia. People often Americanized that name to Bertha.
  • People did move around a lot so our Feldmans could have originated from Prussia and moved to Bessarabia.  However, that is only a conjecture which still needs proving.
  • We know they had at least 2 children:  Morris and a brother

To read what Bessarabia was like when Morris lived there, go to the Bessarabia page. Today, the northern part of Bessarabia is now the independent state of Moldova.

Esther’s parents were Herman Sterner and Sarah Vinukur.

  • We do not know exactly what Esther’s last name is.  It has shown up on various documents as Stern, Sternerson, Sterner, Stein, Skay
  • Esther’s sister mostly went by the name Stein but on her death certificate it says Stevenson
  • Esther’s brother used Sternonoz when he first arrived in the US.
  • In the Odessa database in Jewish Gen, Stern shows up as Shtern and Shterin.  You can also find those spellings in the Ukranian and Bessarabian databases.
  • Vinukur does show up as a surname in Odessa and Ukraine.
  • We know they at least 3 children:  Esther, Rose and Samuel

To read what Odessa was like, when Esther lived there, go to the Odessa page.