A Rose By Any Other Name
Let’s say my name is Miriam. It isn’t, but let say. When I was a teenager, I told my new non-Jewish friends to call me Maria. “Maria” was part of my new identity. But now, as an adult, I go by Miriam again. It’s the name of my childhood. Denying Miriam felt like denying my past. Maria was a costume. It wasn’t me.
But I did change my last name – I’m no longer Miriam Cohen. I’m Miriam Harris. I needed to discard my parent’s last name, and I’ve never had one moment of regret over that.
When I recently renewed my passport at a place in Boro Park, the frum guy was very confused as to why I didn’t have my husband’s last name. “Are you sure you don’t want to change it on the forms?” he asked.
I was sure.
“Harris” is a precious token of my independence that, together with the history embodied in “Miriam”, is the exact vocalization of my identity.
How about you? Have you kept the names of your birth or marriage? Do you have a separate name for the new parts of you? Do you wish you did? Are you glad you don’t?Printable Version