Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan on a Rwandan postage stamp printed c. 2009, photo by chrisd2105/

Birth Name: Robert Allen Zimmerman

Place of Birth: Duluth, Saint Louis, Minnesota, United States

Date of Birth: May 24, 1941

Ethnicity: Ashkenazi Jewish

Bob Dylan is an American singer, songwriter, artist, writer, and actor. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2016.

His father, Abram “Abe” Zimmerman, was of Russian Jewish/Ukrainian Jewish descent, and his mother, Beatrice “Beatty” (Stone), was of Lithuanian Jewish ancestry.

He has five children, including musician Jakob Dylan, of the band the Wallflowers, with his former wife, model Shirley Marlin Noznisky; and a daughter with his former wife, singer Carolyn Dennis. His grandson, Levi Dylan, is a model and actor.

Bob’s paternal grandfather was named Zigman/Zigmund Zisel Zimmerman. Zigman was from Odessa, in the Russian Empire, now in Ukraine.

Bob’s paternal grandmother was Anna Chana Greenstein (the daughter of Ignac Grünstein and Leni Freiman). Anna was from either Odessa or Turkey. They emigrated to the United States following the anti-Semitic pogroms of 1905.

Bob’s maternal grandfather was Benjamin David Solemovitz/Stone (the son of Shapsa/Sabse/Samuel Solemovitz and Bessie Riva Shapiro/Kaner). Benjamin was a Lithuanian Jew, from Kaunas/Kovno. He arrived in the U.S. in 1902. Shapsa was the son of Abraham Solemovitz and Mary.

Bob’s maternal grandmother was Florence Sara Edelstein (the daughter of Benjamin Harold Edelstein and Lybba/Libbe Jaffee/Jaffe). Florence was a Lithuanian Jew, who also came to the U.S. in 1902, with her family being from Kaunas/Kovno. Benjamin was the son of David Edelstein and Ida Weinberg/Aren. Lybba was the daughter of Aaron Jaffee/Jaffe and Fannie Karon.

In his autobiography Chronicles: Volume One, 2004, Bob wrote:

Originally, [my grandmother had] come from Turkey, sailed from Trabzon, a port town, across the Black Sea… Her family was from Kagizman, a town in Turkey near the Armenian border, and the family name had been Kirghiz. My grandfather’s parents had also come from that same area, where they had been mostly shoemakers and leatherworkers. My grandmother’s ancestors had been from Constantinople. As a teenager, I used to sing the Ritchie Valens song “In a Turkish Town” with the lines in it about the “mystery Turks and the stars above,” and it seemed to suit me more than “La Bamba,” the song of Ritchie’s that everybody else sang and I never knew why.

It is not clear if these statements about Turkish Jewish ancestry are accurate.

Sources: Genealogies of Bob Dylan –

Pictures and genealogies of Bob’s parents –

Bob’s parents on the 1940 U.S. Census –


Curious about ethnicity

11 Responses

  1. helf says:

    He looks like Gene Wilder

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