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Name Dropping

Basya Laib

A rose by any other name might smell as sweet, but will Aviva Klein still be Aviva if she now goes by Miriam Stern? A behind-the-scenes look at people who changed both their names for their in-laws and how it impacts their lives.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Chana Wolman* was still in the middle of sheva brachos when her new husband dropped the bombshell. He sat her down for a talk. Having been married for all of three days, she could only imagine what might be wrong. “Uh, have you noticed that I haven’t been calling you by your name?” he asked. Chana thought before slowly responding, “Yeah.” She actually had been wondering about that. “My mother is really not comfortable with me calling you by your first name. She didn’t realize that it would bother her so much, and she’d prefer that I call you by your middle name, Tova.” Chana was speechless. Though other issues had come up during the course of the shidduch, the similarity ofChanaTova’s name and that of her mother-in-law’s,GoldaChana, was not one of them. Her husband went on to explain that not calling a spouse by a parent’s name is a matter of respect for the parent. The fact that his mother suddenly realized that she felt uncomfortable was a feeling that couldn’t be changed. Only her name could. Chana reacted with shock. Though some people did call her by both names, to those closest to her, she was only Chana. She couldn’t fathom having to change her name, a most crucial part of her identity.

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