Name changes and visions of ”a new Jew” in the Helsinki Jewish community


  • Laura Katarina Ekholm University of Helsinki
  • Simo Muir University of Leeds


Judaism, Jews -- Finland, Names, Jewish, Nationalism, Yiddish language, Hebrew language, Finnish language, Swedish language, Antisemitism, Zionism


This article discusses an organized name-change process that occurred in the 1930s in the Jewish community of Helsinki. Between 1933 and 1944 in approximately one fifth of the Helsinki Jewish families (c. 16 %) someone had their family name changed. We argue that the name changes served two purposes: on the one hand they made life easier in the new nation state. It was part of a broader process where tens of thousands of Finns translated and changed their Swedish names to Finnish ones. On the other hand, the changed family names offered a new kind of Jewish identity. The name-changing process of the Helsinki Jews opens a window onto the study of nationalism, antisemitism, identity politics and visions of a Jewish future from the Finnish perspective.




How to Cite

Ekholm, L. K., & Muir, S. (2017). Name changes and visions of ”a new Jew” in the Helsinki Jewish community. Scripta Instituti Donneriani Aboensis, 27, 173–188.