Bob Dylan

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

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 – http://www.geni.com
https://gw.geneanet.org

Pictures and genealogies of Bob’s parents – http://www.findagrave.com

Bob’s parents on the 1940 U.S. Census – https://familysearch.org

ethnic

Curious about ethnicity

11 Responses

  1. andrew says:

    congratulations for the Nobel Prize!

  2. savanna says:

    Why is it always just “Ethnicity: Ashkenazi Jewish” for all Ashkenazi celebs?
    I think it would make more sense if it were more specific. For example, Bob Dylan’s could read:
    Ethnicity: Ashkenazi Jewish (including Lithuanian, Russian, Turkish and Ukrainian Jewish)

  3. andrew says:

    Dylan’s paternal grandparents Zigman and Anna Zimmerman emigrated from Odessa in the Russian Empire (now Ukraine) to the United States following the anti-Semitic pogroms of 1905. His maternal grandparents Ben and Florence Stone were Lithuanian Jews who arrived in the U.S. in 1902.

    In his autobiography Chronicles: Volume One, Dylan writes that his paternal grandmother’s maiden name was Kirghiz and her family originated from Kağızman district of Kars Province in north-eastern Turkey.

    • andrew says:

      He wrote:

      “Originally, [my grandmother had] come from Turkey, sailed from Trabzon, a port town, across the Black Sea — the sea that the ancient Greeks called the Euxine — the one that Lord Byron wrote about in Don Juan. 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.”

      Add that during the late 1970s and early 1980s Dylan converted to Christianity, becoming a born again Christian.

  4. andrew says:

    Jakob Dylan (his son) is a singer

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