"Pikholz" means "woodpecker" - that much is clear.  What exactly that has to do with us is somewhat less so.

During our research, more than one person mentioned that there is a tradition of red-headedness in their families and it seems to me quite possible that the name comes from an original red-headed ancestor.  (I have made no survey of red-headed descendants.  Nor am I sure just how much effort I wish to put into this particular question at this time.)

Nonetheless, I am trying to make inquiry about what species of red-headed woodpecker (there are others as well) might have been common in Galicia two hundred or so years ago, so that we can get a picture of the right bird on our pages.  If anyone has good contacts in the world of ornithology, you are welcome to carry this particular ball.

Or we could use a picture of a pickle, in memory of our tortured years in elementary school.

And while we are on the subject, there is a Yiddish derogatory expression "shoteh ben Pikholz."  I made inquiry at the Yiddish Department of the Hebrew University and they think that this is a folk expression rather than a literary one.  The idea seems to be that a woodpecker knocks his beak against the tree, to no apparent purpose, so "shoteh ben Pikholz" would be one who spend his time and energy in a useless fashion.  I myself would prefer to turn that expression on its head, since the woodpecker itself knows perfectly well what it's purpose is, and doesn't particularly care what the ignorant observers think.  (The more I think about it, the better I like it!)

Finally, everyone seems to know that "holz" means "wood."  So while in the United States, family members shortened the name to something that sounded similar - Peck in some families, Holt or Holtz in others - Hebrew speakers generally went for a new name that reflected the connection with wood.  Thus we have Etzion and Etzioni, Ilan and Allon, all wood-based names.  And then there is the first Pickholz to come to Eretz Israel - Eliezer Haniel.  I suspect that his name is based on the first names of the people whom I think are his grandparents - Hannah & Eliezer.

No one has shown up called by the Hebrew word for woodpecker - nakkar.  However, there is one named Ankor, which is a completely different bird (a bunting) which is related to nakkar etymologically.

Israel P.
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