Photo Credit: Jewish Press

How many last names do you know that are associated with color? Schwartz – Black. Weiss – White. Braun – Brown. It’s so interesting to think about how and why each family got their specific surname.

My last name happens to be Blau – which means blue in German. And so, when I get a prompt for the word “blue,” I automatically associate it with my last name and the Patriarch of my husband’s family; his grandfather Rabbi Moshe Yehudah HaKohen Blau.


There is a legend that Rabbi Blau was in the Vatican and saw seforim written by the Rishonim, committed them to memory, and then prepared them for print. What actually happened was that he was once studying in a library in New York City, the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, when he met a priest working on his thesis for his doctorate. The priest was struggling with his research of Ksav Ivri, and this research was necessary for him to be awarded a job promotion in the Vatican. My grandfather was an expert in the field and helped him out. In exchange, the priest mailed him microfilms of manuscripts written by Rishonim that were in the Vatican that my grandfather was able to publish, called Shitas HaKadmonim. Although he did get the manuscripts, he was never in the Vatican.

While I don’t know exactly why or how our family ended up with the last name Blau, I am proud of our heritage and my grandfather’s efforts to publish and publicize the seforim of the Rishonim.


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Sara is a prolific author, with over 150 articles on, 26 children’s books, and two books for women, "Close To You" and "Thought Streams."