SHIFRIN - The name means “Descendent of Shivre”, or Shifre, or Shifroh, being a Biblical name coming from a line in Exodus 1:15. Shifra was a midwife who, together with another woman called Puah, was ordered by the Pharaoh of Egypt to kill the infant sons of the Jews, and who refused to carry out the order.
Jews used patronymics as means of personal identification long before their use in the formation of family names. Jewish patronymics are based on Hebrew and Biblical names. Sephardi and oriental Jews borrowed extensively from their Arab neighbours. Whilst Ashkenazi Jews often translated Hebrew names into Yiddish and the vernacular (the language of the ethnic majority among whom they were living in the Diaspora), or used vernacular suffixes.
Bet Ha’tfuzot - Museum of the Jewish Diaspora, Tel Aviv
Frustrated by the Jews’ attitude towards their surnames, the Russian czar issued new regulations in 1835, stating that each Jew of the Russian Empire must keep his surname forever without change. In 1850, a State Council opinion signed by the czar once again prohibited surname changes for Jews.
Geoff Sifrin, in his book “To Gershn - Tales of People of Zjembin” writes: “my great-great-great grandfather was born there (Zjembin - not far from Vitebsk) in the year 1808. Reb Zalmon Shifrin was his official name, which was used for the purposes of the Russian tax collectors, but if you would have asked any Jew in the shtetl for Zalmon’s name, you would have gotten the answer: “Zalmon ben Gershn der balegole” (Solomon the son of Gershn the wagon-driver)”... we do know that many other variants of that surname (Shifrin) were also adopted, or developed over time, such as Shifro, Shifron, Shufrin, Sifrin,Tsifrin, Tsyfrin, Shifrinov, Shifrinson, Shlifinson, Shlifenson, Shifres, Shifris, Shifriz, Sifris, Shifrovitch”.