NOACH-What’s in a name (or isn’t) ?

1.-The family name of NOACH is in use at least since 6 April 1812, when founding father MICHIEL

SIMON of Oestinghausen(Prussia) adopted this name as his surname.

The declaration was made in French before Willem Gotte- (o umlaut) the maire(mayor) of GOOR , in the Netherlands, at that time

under French Napoleonic Rule.

The declaration was part of the Naamsaanneming process, obligating all civilians to adopt a binding


2.-The certificate shows, that Michiel knew how to sign his (new ?) name in Latin characters, not

self-evident among the "mediene" Jews of that period and in this region.

Noteworthy is also the official name of MARIA given to his daughter Mietje(n) -who died unmarried

in deplorable circumstances at the age of 77 -; it seems that at that time this name for a Jewish girl was

not something to raise an eyebrow.

3.-There is no evidence that the name NOACH was used before this date by the ancestors of

MICHIEL SIMON-nor is anything known who these ancestors were.

MICHIEL SIMON's death certificate shows, that his son SALOMON(my great-grandfather), who

signed the document, knew the location of his fathers birth to be Oestinghausen, but that he lacked any

information about his grandparents, who they were, and where they lived and died.

4.-The name NOACH is relatively rare, though not exclusively Jewish.

At least two instances of the name NOACH used by non-Jews came to light during the

research; one of a Protestant woman named Helena Noach who married Hendrik van Lutsenburgh

in the Catharijne Church in Utrecht on 7 January 1772 ( clergyman:-P.Rutgers),

(courtesy:-Arend de Haan-Garderen-Netherlands), and the other of Noach the chimney sweeper

of Rijssen, a folkloristic figure in the history of this townlet, who is honored by the Noach

Passage in the shopping center of the town, and whose amusing story(in Dutch) is herewith

attached.(page 1,page 2)

5.-a.-During the earlier stages of the research another Jewish family by the name of NOACH came to light, not at all related to ours.

It is the most conspicuous instance known in my genealogies where the similiarity in the name does not create relationship.

(Others of importance are part of the Amsterdam Frankforts and many in-laws, like the van Gelders and other examples).

- It concerns descendants of MEIJER NOAG and Eva Sluis from Dordrecht(Dordt), far from the region of the Achterhoek and Twente.It is not clear whether this family originally was called Meijer or Noag.

- Their son Meijer NOACH(circumcised on 16-9-1806 in Dordt) and his offspring later-on, had his name written with CH like our family.

One of his sons Salomon, born in 1835 in Dordrecht migrated to Zutphen in "our" region, where he became a butcher and married Elske van Gelder, a girl of the vicinity.

Zutphen was the town where the branch of Abraham Salomon Noach-the eldest son of Salomon- grew and prospered(the famous resistance hero of the second world war Sally Noach belonged to this branch).

It makes this "Salomon Noach in Zutphen" a rare exception among the Noachs in this town at this period.
b.-Later on a third NOACH family from Cleef, clustered in Amsterdam, not related to our family,  was  also found  during research.
           This family also suffered greatly during the holocaust.

6.-Oral history has it, that the original family name in Prussia had been SOMMER. Though no

genealogically acceptable evidence for this tradition has come to light , there may be some

plausibility for it:-

a.The book of Michael Brocke & Gerhard Koehn about the Jewish cemetery and community

of Soest shows that there were quite a lot of Sommer’s in Soest and the vicinity, including


Especially interesting is the mentioning of Anselm/Anschel Sommer, born on 14-9-1816

in Oestinghausen, son of Isaak Sommer and Minna Jakobs. Minna and Amsel are private

names that traditionally remained much in use in the family.

It is tempting to assume, that Isaak Sommer was a brother of Michiel Simon, but this is an

unproven surmise at this stage.

b.-A second unproven story is about a bequest Amsel/Anschel de Rothschild (who was childless)

decided to give to any born male child with the name of Amsel/Anschel.

Michiel Simon’s son Amsel Noach should have been, according to this legend, a beneficiary

of such a bequest. The story goes, that the documentary of this is kept in the Deventer

Municipal Archives.

Not one thread of evidence about such a connection between the Rothshilds and the Noachs nor

any documents proving this have come to light.

7.-The occupation of MICHIEL SIMON NOACH during the census of Jewish families in Goor on

20 July 1813 was given as “porceleinkramer”(crockery peddler).

This puts him in the category of the Jewish wandering merchants (marskramers) who made a

living by selling their wares to farmers in the countryside.

Those merchants constitute the frame that shaped the Achterhoek & Twente Jewry, most of them

very poor, and heads of large families.

Hardly the kind to have social relations with the Rothschilds.

8.-Little is known about his wife Betje(Elisabeth, Elisa, Sibille) Oppenheimer, born in Goor in 1792,

daughter of Israel Oppenheimer(born in 1758 in Almelo) and Aaltjen Andries Muller(born in 1767

in Diepenheim).

Her mother was the 5th(out of 9) children of Andries Liefman Muller, who, though born in

Germany, resided in Diepenheim already in 1755 or before, making him the earliest “Dutchman”

of the entire NOACH genealogy known today.

9.-The Hebrew inscription of the tombstone of my great-grandfather SALOMON Noach-the eldest

son of MICHIEL SIMON-gives Salomon’s name as SIMCHA Ben JOSEPH YECHIEL.

I cannot offer the slightest explanation why MICHIEL SIMON had JOSEPH as his main Hebrew

name.Neither is it a private name that remained very much in vogue in the family in later


The second Hebrew name-YECHIEL-also seems surprising but this nevertheless does conform

with the findings of the Israeli-Dutch genealogist G.Ya’ari-Cohen in his study about the most

common parallels between the Dutch and Hebrew names in the Amsterdam Ashkenazi


He found the parallel MICHAEL=YECHIEL to be common, though in our case MICHAEL and/or

SHIMON as a Hebrew parallel would have been more to the point.

The equivalent of the combined names JOSEPH YECHIEL for MICHIEL SIMON remains in any

case an absolute riddle.

The Hebrew equivalent of the name of one of Michael Simon’s great-grandsons-Mozes Simon

Noach-was –according to this Mozes’ tombstone in the Jewish cemetery of Medemblik:-


Moshe Simon was a son of Simon Salomon Noach ,who was the eldest son of my

great-grandfather SALOMON and a grandson of Michiel Simon.

In this instance the Hebrew YECHIEL does not fit in at all with the name of his father SIMON

SALOMON and the parallels drawn up by G.Ya’ari-Cohen.

It seems to me, that only the wish to adhere to the Jewish tradition of naming a grandson after his

grandfather-(in other words:- the fact that SIMON SALOMON Noach bears the name of

YECHIEL like his grandfather MACHIEL SIMON ) can explain this unusual phenomenon.

No other instances of the use of the Hebrew name of YECHIEL in the family have come to light

during my research and this Hebrew parallel name seems to have been forgotten in the family


10.-Research proved the story of the origin of the Hebrew name-SIMCHA-of my father SALOMON

MOZES Noach, as it was known to me, well-founded.

The story had it, that as he was born on the evening of or on the day before Thisha be-Av, the ninth

of the month of Av, the yearly day in the religious Jewish calendar of mourning for the

destruction of the first and second temple in Jerusalem., SIMCHA, meaning “Joy”-was the

name chosen by his parents. His birth on this day was indeed an event of joy for his parents at the

onset of the traditional day of mourning and fasting.

Checking my fathers birthday: 1 August 1892 against the Jewish calendar of that year-5652-

indeed confirms the story to be true:-

The 9 of Av fell that year on Tuesday 2 of August, and my fathers birthday on the day before

that-on Monday August 1.!

The Hebrew inscription on the tombstone of my great-grandfather, now adds a possible different or

at least additional view why my father was called SIMCHA as his Hebrew name.

Was it because he was named after his grandfather, quite usual and in accordance with Jewish

tradition, changing the 9 be-Av story into a mere coincidence ?

Or was his birth on 8 be-Av indeed the real reason for the name he received ?

Or perhaps both ?

An open historical question, that will probably never be resolved.

Version 12-1-2006

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