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Names That Ring a Bell

Leah Reisman

Ever wish you were famous? Or your parents? What’s it like to have a last name that rings a bell with everyone who hears it?

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

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D o you ever dream of being famous? Do you ever imagine what it would be like to walk around and have everyone recognize your face and your name, and be constantly bombarded by people wanting you to sign autographs and take pictures with them? What if you’re just a kid, but it’s your father who has celebrity status in your community? What’s it like to have a last name that rings a bell with everyone who hears it? 

Let’s talk to some kids whose last names may sound very familiar to you and see what life in the limelight is like:

  • Eighteen-year-old Yehuda Pollack is the son of the famous illustrator and author, Gadi Pollack. Yehuda, who lives in Eretz Yisrael, says that his last name brings an extra level of responsibility to his life. “I’m representing my father in a certain way, and I need to make sure he is represented with a shem tov,” he explains. 
  • Nechama, Tova, and Yisroel Levine — 15, 14, and 11 respectively — are the children of the talented composer and singer, Baruch Levine. In Waterbury, Connecticut, where they live, their last name doesn’t get much attention, since everyone’s used to living with the famous personality in their midst. But outside of their relatively small community, they are often given celebrity status. • 
  • Mrs. Esther Wolf, of Lakewood, New Jersey, is the youngest daughter of Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, the executive vice president of Agudath Israel of America. Esther explains that her father “works for Klal Yisrael to advocate for laws that help our community.” Growing up, Esther recalls that she had a lot of exposure to politics and people’s personal struggles. “It gave me an appreciation for America, and taught me not to take things like school lunches and busing for granted. I realized how much went into it,” she shares. • 
  • Nineteen-year-old Faigy Herzog has a last name we all associate with wine. Her father is the president of Kedem Wines, and when any of their Monsey neighbors are short on grape juice or wine for Kiddush, they know whose door to knock on. 
  • Yitty Klein is 16 and lives in Brooklyn, New York. When people hear her last name they think of summer. That’s because her family owns and runs the Klein’s ice cream business. The freezer in her house is always stocked with delicious, cold treats. 

Your last name is...? Are you related to...?
When your last name is an uncommon one like Herzog or Zwiebel, people are bound to associate you with your famous relative.


But what happens when your last name is a common one like Klein or Levine? Yitty Klein says that people aren’t quick to associate her with the ice cream brand. Nechama Levine relates that she doesn’t usually tell people who her father is, and one year at camp, a girl finally figured out who she was on the last day. Another time, when someone asked her if she was related to Baruch Levine, Nechama responded, “Yeah, somehow!”

Once, the Levine family was eating at a relative’s home in Toronto, and another guest, who said he was a big fan of Baruch Levine but obviously had no clue who was sitting at the table, shared that he had eaten at a different cousin of the Levines the night before. The kids’ grandfather gestured to Baruch and told the guest, “This man can do a great imitation of Baruch Levine!” Baruch started singing, and the man told him, “You even look like Baruch Levine.” Finally, the family revealed to their guest that the performance was no imitation. The guest couldn’t believe it, but soon all of the men were singing and dancing around the table. (Excerpted from Jr., Issue 655)

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