Feb 25, 2008

Names. The meaning of names.

So here's a pickle.

Some of you know me as Amanda.
Others of you know me as Chaviva.

On this blog, and in most of the internet world, I am Chaviva, better known as Chavi.

Would I be insane to make this a permanent change? I mean, I'm moving in the fall and going off to school somewhere and I can become who I feel that I am quite easily, indeed. No offense intended to anyone or anything, and most assuredly those who have known me and my family will know me forever as Amanda. But names, in my mind, have such significance, such importance, such meaning. And as I grow, and as I become the person I was meant to be, I grow more and more into my Hebrew name, which in translation means precisely the same thing as the name that my parents issued to me at birth.

But, it's something I am thinking about.


Beth said...

I get this. I totally get this. I think you should do it. If you feel weird letting go of what your parents named you, uou could go with "Chaviva Amanda E*****" for your legal name, and use Chaviva on a day-to-day basis, keeping Amanda as a nod to the folks. I am struggling with what to do with my name after marriage. Ugh. There are entire forums dedicated to my problem, though (see kvetch.indiebride.com). Good luck with your decision!!

Anonymous said...

I would do it. In fact, I did it (my last name). It's who you are now. I think it would be really important for those in your academic career to know you as Chaviva. It's pretty easy in Illinois to do it. You just publish your new name for 5 weeks in a paper (so it doesn't look like you're trying to defraud anyone) and then make a trip to the county clerk and drop around 200 dollars. It's worth it. When I went through my name change, it was cathartic.


Anonymous said...

I have thought that after I convert I will probably change my legal name. I don't think you're insane at all.

You wouldn't be the first person to do it, and changing your name is about the biggest statement you can make that says, "I have reached a new beginning in my life."

KosherAcademic said...

Well, the decision is yours. While yes, your parents named you, you are an individual. You could do the "nod" to your parents that Beth (above) suggested, or not. Your parents, everyone will adapt.

Alternatively, you can simply start going by Chaviva and leave your legal name the same. It's been done (look at my kids!), too.

As you know, I did it, too, although my name was much more terribly Christian than yours is. Do what you feel is right and comfortable. And it really isn't that difficult.

Zohara bat Sarah said...

If you picture yourself going by Chaviva, (which it sounds like you do) why not? Zahava is my Hebrew name, and while I wish it was a more active part of my life, I can't see myself going by it. But it's a little funny--the name I go by in 99% of my life isn't even my legal name! My English name doesn't translate to anything, but over the years, I've made it mine. My Hebrew name is kind of a lofty goal (trying to live up to it). Maybe I should have thought of that when I accepted it as my Hebrew name...

Chaviva Gordon-Bennett said...

Thanks all for these really thoughtful responses. I thought I'd write a little more about it, simply because it's a sticky issue in practice. I didn't want to create a whole new post, so I thought I'd just post the comments here.

You see, I'm an active, enthusiastic member of Yelp.com. On that site, I review restaurants and stores and participate in social activities with other Chicagoans of all stripes and kinds. When I first signed up last year, I signed up as "Amanda E." Shortly after that, some girl joined with the same first name, different last initial, but with an attitude that rubbed everyone the wrong way. So I decided, to avoid the confusion, I'd change my name, so I chose to use my Hebrew name, since it's what I've used on this blog for the past few years -- Chaviva E. So I'm at an event the other day and the guy at the door is checking IDs and asks for my name, to make sure I'm on the list. I immediately spit out my legal name, not thinking. I then paused and realized that I was under my Hebrew name and corrected myself. Later, I was telling a story and referred to myself as Amanda, confusing the people around me -- THEY know me as Chaviva, not Amanda.

I could never get my parents to call me Chaviva, that's for sure. Nor could I get many who have known me for years and years to know me as Chaviva. On Facebook I'll always be Amanda, else people won't be able to find me.

Isn't it fascinating how our names affect everything in our lives? How we are identified, our histories, our futures, our community identification?

Thank you all again for the thoughts. I think you all know where I *really* stand ...

Schvach said...

Perhaps one consideration by which you should be guided is the name you want to appear on your diplomas.

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