You are here:

Hebrew Language/Ashkenazi Jewish Names


My father's family, named Kaatz, came from East Prussia.  I always figured that the derivation of the name was from the Ashkenazi Jews.  My father's family, for as long as I knew them, never practiced any religion.  The name Kaatz was changed to Cotts due to anti-German sentiment in the US during WWI.  But then, about five years ago, I was told that the name Kaatz was German and that the Jewish name would have been Katz.

Which is correct?

Hi David,

Assuming that you had Jewish paternal ancestors, the name would have been Katz, which is the Hebrew acronym for Cohen-Tzedek ('Just Priest'). The Hebrew priesthood, which is hereditary and is passed by the father to his male descendants, has a very limited role in modern Judaism. It did play a major role before the Jerusalem Temple was destroyed in 70 CE. All Hebrew priestly families carry the surname 'Cohen' or derivations thereof such as Katz, Kohn, Kahn and Kuhn.



Hebrew Language

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Ask the Rabbi


What I don't do: NO NAME TRANSLATIONS. For that, try

What I do: I'll help you understand Hebrew phrases or single words, as well as answer questions about Jewish customs and practices.

You may also try the Gooogle English-Hebrew translator, at


I am a columnist for a Hebrew-language newspaper, and a graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary.

D.Med MBA BA in the US, Grade school and high school in Israel

©2016 All rights reserved.