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Shapiro and its variations such as Shapira, is a Yiddish surname. One theory suggests that it derives from Shpira, the Hebrew/Yiddish name for Spira (Hebrew: שפירא, pronounced Shpira), the medieval name of Speyer, Germany.[1] [2] The Jewish community of Speyer was an important centre in the development of Ashkenazi culture. Other name variants are Spira, Spire, Spiro, Spero, Chapiro, Sprai, Szpir, Saphir and Spear. The name "Speyer" has also become a well known surname that was spread by Jews from Frankfurt to England, the United States and Canada in the late 19th and early 20th century.

According to another theory, the word Shapiro is Aramaic (probably derived from the Hebrew word sapir (ספיר), usually translated as "sapphire", which refers not to the sapphire gemstone but to the lapis lazuli, and is reputed to be the stone which represented the tribe of Issachar on the breastplate of the high priest of Israel and thus identifies the Shapiro family with that tribe) and appears, for example, in the 11th Century Aramaic-language Jewish religious poem Akdamus a.k.a. Akdamuth (line 45) and in Onkelos's commentary on Genesis 29:17. Onkelos's commentary, believed to have been written around 110 CE, long predated the naming of Speyer (as Spira) in approximately 500 CE, and therefore has given rise to a family tradition that the city was renamed for the family and not vice versa.[citation needed]

In Aramaic, "Shapeer" means "fine".

Notable people with the surname include:

Other uses

  • "Miss Shapiro", a song by 801 from the album 801 Live


  1. ^ search for Shapiro
  2. ^ (Kaganoff, 1977) Source: Saul Zeichner,27 November 2000, Revised 10 April 2009

See also



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