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Q: Am I (Hayman) Jewish or not - I need to know! ( Answered,   1 Comment )
Subject: Am I (Hayman) Jewish or not - I need to know!
Category: Family and Home
Asked by: haymania-ga
List Price: $100.00
Posted: 31 Dec 2005 23:20 PST
Expires: 30 Jan 2006 23:20 PST
Question ID: 427779
My last name is Hayman.  I'm 36 years old and most of my life my
parents have said I was Dutch, maybe Pennsylvanian Dutch.  What does
this mean?  I'm from Holland, I'm Pennsylvanian Dutch?  No I don'
think so, after I moved to Chicago, a lot my Jewish friends are saying
"Dude, you're Jewish with a name like Hayman"  "We know lot's of
Jewish Haymans here in Chicago and other areas.  There are some famous
Jewish Haymans, like Jon Hayman, the writer from Seinfeld.  Maybe lots
of Jewish Haymans fled to Holland after the Holocaust?  Some Russion
Jews named Hayman came here from the former Soviet Union
I need to know if I'm Jewish or not??? I hope I am.  If there ARE
non-Jewish Hayman's out there, how do I know if I'm one of them?

Request for Question Clarification by scriptor-ga on 02 Jan 2006 12:38 PST
Dear haymania,

I found out that there is indeed an old Dutch family name "Hayman",
which dates back at least to the 16th century. However, it is
virtually impossible to say anything definitive about your ancestry
without doing genealogical research; and genealogical research is
impossible without knowing some detail about your ancestors. Would you
like me to search information about the Dutch roots of the name as

Subject: Re: Am I (Hayman) Jewish or not - I need to know!
Answered By: politicalguru-ga on 02 Jan 2006 14:20 PST
Hi Hayman, 

Let's start with facts: religiously, one can be a Jew only if their
mother is Jewish, or if they convert to Judaism. Your mother is not
Jewish, and you haven't converted to Judaism yet, so religiously
speaking, you're not Jewish.

"Being Jewish" is usually connected first and foremost with religion,
then with culture (which - even if you are from a family that was
originally Jewish - is now unfortunately gone), and with identity.

Of course, you can want to "be Jewish" because of liking Jews and
their culture (see below on becoming a Jew); or just because you're
like that dentist from Seinfeld - who'd converted to Judaism because
he was already half-Irish and half-Polish, and he wanted to cover all
of the jokes.

However, could you be of Jewish ancestry? I have checked your name. 

Is Hayman a "Jewish" Name?

This is a popular Jewish name. However, it is not necessarily a Jewish
name. First of all, as your parents have said, it could be a
Pennsylvania Dutch name, and there are many non-Jewish people, with no
apparent Jewish connection, that have this name. Later, I refer here
to the term Pennsylvania Dutch: It has nothing to do with the Dutch in

Second, it also have other meanings, which are neither Germanic nor
Jewish. In fact, it seems that the Jewish Haymans are people who have
modified their names to sound more "English":
"What does the Hayman name mean?
Last Name: Hayman

   1. English: topographic name for a man who lived by an enclosure,
from Middle English hay (see Hay 1) + man. The term was in many cases
effectively a synonym for Hayward.
   2. English: nickname for a tall man (see Hay 2).
   3. English: occupational name for the servant of someone called Hai
(see Hay 3), with man in the sense ?servant?.
   4. English: occupational name for someone who sold hay.
   5. Jewish: variant of Heiman.
   6. Possibly an Americanized spelling of German Hamann or Heumann." 
(SOURCE:, "What We Know about the Hayman Family",

There are also people in history (famous and non-famous) who are
called "Hayman" but are not Jewish (in fact, most aren't):
Hayman Family Board

GenForum - Hayman Family Genealogy Forum 

Hayman Genealogy as I Have Become to Know It

Some famous non-Jewish Haymans: 
Lillian Hayman
<> (African-American)

Hélène Valerie Hayman, Baroness Hayman
<> (English)

Robert Hayman 
<> (English)

Francis Hayman
<> (English)

William Hayman Cummings
<> (English)

Horace Hayman Wilson
<> (English)

The Dutch Connection

So far, most of the Haymans were of English origin, with some Jews and
Germans, who have changed their names.

Where are your parents' Pennsylvania Dutch, then? "Pennsylvania
Dutch", has nothing to do with being Dutch, from Holland. This term
refers to people, who immigrated from Germany and Switzerland to
Pennsylvania in the 17th and 18th century, and belonged to Protestant
denominations. The Amish, for example, are Pennsylvania Dutch. There
are some examples of Hayman who are cnnected to Pennsylvania Dutch,
for example:
Family Hart Database

It is therefore possible:
- That your parent are from a "Pennsylvania Dutch" family (which
means, that your ancestors probably came from Germany);
- That you are from a German family (or from a Dutch one), which
developed a "Pennsylvania Dutch" identity although they came later, or
not to Pennsylvania.
- That there are Jewish roots somewhere, but they've hidden it generations ago. 

How to become Jewish

Maybe you're not Jewish, but you can surely be one! :-) 

There are several streams of Judaism, and you'd better learn more
about Judaism and what being a Jew means, before you decide if you
want to become one. However, here are names of several people in the
Chicagoland area who might be able to help you more:

Rabbi Brant Rosen
Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation
303 Dodge Avenue
Evanston, IL 60202-3252
Tel: (847) 328-7678
Fax: (847) 328-2298 

Synagogues in Chicago(land)

Conversion to Judaism Home Page

Considering Conversion to Judaism

Conversion to Judaism

About Judaism  - Conversion to Judaism

Let me give you a piece of advice
It is not important what your family name tells about you. What is
important, is what *you* make of it. William Cohem was the American
Secretary of Defence. Cohen is as Jewish as it can get. But Cohen was
not Jewish and did not feel Jewish. On the other hand, some people
have the most "non Jewish" name one can imagine, and still feel very
much "Jewish". If you would like to become Jewish, it doesn't matter
if "your Hayman" is not the Jewish one.

I hope this answers your question. Please contact me if you need any
clarification on this answer before you rate it.
Subject: Re: Am I (Hayman) Jewish or not - I need to know!
From: myoarin-ga on 02 Jan 2006 15:21 PST
If you are Pennsylvania Dutch descent, it is very unlikely that you
are Jewish, and if your family were Jewish, it is very likely that you
would know  - unless your parents or grandparents decided to separate
themselves from that part of their past.
The Pensylvania "Dutch" are of German descent  - "Deutsch" -  and were
not Jewish.  Hayman could be an Americanized spelling of Haymann,
which could be an older spelling of Heimann, a German name that can be
found.  There are many German and some Scandinavian names that COULD
be Jewish.  I've got one; on the strength of it, my sister ended up
having a lot of Jewish friends in college, including guys delighted by
her blue eyes and very non-Jewish-looking nose.
So, you see, it happens to others that Jews think the surname is all indicative. 

Here you can read about the Pennsylvania Dutch (and elsewhere):


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