What is in a Name?

Mandelbaum is German for an Almond tree 

Why? You may ask we use 
German names for many Jews? 
My father told me the story 
Of a Kaiser a bit short of glory 

Who wanted the Jews to conform 
to the great Austo-German norm. 
In ancient times, when Jews were free, 
Their names were also their family tree. 

So a Jacob who was Isaac's son 
was Jacob ben Isaac and it was done! 
Then the Kaiser sent his valiant crew, 
to change the name of every Jew. 

            Some of the crew where real sons of bitches 
            Whose last profession was burning witches 
            They made up some very nasty games 
            and handed out derogatory names 
                   
                      Another group, and this is no fable 
                      Sold the better names under the table 
                      And if you had no money to pay 
                      they called you Aschenbecher-Ashtray 
                  There were some with a real organized mind 
                  They would hand out the names according to kind 
                  And in one town for no reason that could be seen 
                  the names of all Jews was now Green. 
                  In another all names ended with -berg 
                  Somewhere else they all started with Zwerg- 
                  And one day, with a broad smile on his face,
                  An officer came to my great grandfathers place.
It was mid-winter, 
cold, snowing too.
The officer said 
"Have I got a name for you!"
The old man pleaded, 
and offered some gold,
And invited the man 
in from the cold.
"Today is a feast, 
the 15th of Shvat,
The New Year of Trees, 
did you know that?
Here it is snowing, 
even cold in the room,
In Israel today 
the trees are in bloom"

"A tree! Yes! 
But which should I choose?
It will be one 
that's similar to the Jews!
It's fruits should be healthy 
and tasty as well,
And must be protected 
by a hard shell."

    "The fruit should be hardy 
    and should also not rot,
    Should withstand all the climates, 
    the cold and the hot.
    But for it to blossom 
    and really come forth,
    It cannot be planted 
    in the lands of the North!"
    Four generations later, 
    after much hardship and toil,
    My roots are now-planted 
    in Israel's red soil,
    Where I can take root
    and blossom too,
    Where it is no insult
    to be called a Jew.
    From here I salute you!
    great grandfather of mine,
    You who have started
    the Mandelbaum line.
    My children and I
    every 15th of Shvat
    see the almond trees bloom
    and thank you for that.

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