A name tag

I’m Changing My Name Again And Here Is Why

I am quite happy with my first name. At birth, I was given the name Ann, an English variation of the Hebrew name Hannah, named for my father’s mother who was killed in the Holocaust. I changed the spelling to Anne to mark a milestone in my life – loyal readers of Love and Medicine know all about it, wink-wink. Anne, or Áine is also the name of an Irish Celtic Goddess. I’m good with Anne.

As an aside, Ann’s height of popularity was in 1959. It has now fallen from the 539th most popular name to an abysmal 1299th…

When I became a writer, I considered pen names like Soferet Tova – I know, so bad, but I was 10! I also considered pseudonyms like Irene Drive – for the subliminal message. A pseudonym was tempting as a writer with young children wanting to write about racy stuff. By the time I finally published my first word on Love and Medicine, my kids were old enough.

Under the 14th amendment, every U.S. citizen is guaranteed the right to change his or her name at will.

I never for a second considered changing my name when I got married. I can’t understand why any woman would choose to follow that patriarchal custom. But let’s move on…

My father was born in Czechoslovakia and given the Slavic name Ludwig Kopolović, pronounced Koplovich. He entered this country in 1947 after WWII. He spelled his name Ludwig Kopolowitz “because they didn’t know how to soften the C”. Americans can’t deal with accent symbols. Right all you Esmé’s out there?

A few years later his brother Benzion Kopolowitz  shortened his name to Bernie Koplin, at the urging of his wife who felt Kopolowitz was too long.  It was important to Bernie that as brothers they share the same name. My dad was reluctant but eventually changed his name to Koplin.

Koplin has always been a pain.  No matter how many times I say “with a K”, it is spelled with a C. It is invariably pronounced cop-lin but it is supposed to be cope-lin.  It has no meaning whatsoever. I feel no connection to the name. It’s not bad, it’s not good, it’s just nothing.

The name Kopolovic, on the other hand, “immediately places your origins in Eastern Europe,” according to my dad. It has depth, history, meaning. My sister, brother and I are seriously considering a name change to Kopolovic. Our kids aren’t thrilled and have no plans to change theirs. That’s fine with me. We don’t have the same last name now either.

My dad might secretly like the idea but gives his usual poo-poo reply “eh, too much trouble, what do you need it for?” That is his response to anything related to the past; like my idea to pursue EU citizenship based on his country of birth and to finally request reparations from Germany that he deserves as a holocaust survivor.

According to research on name changes later in life, it is best to start using the name prior to pursuing it legally. Once we get a consensus on how to pronounce it, you may see my new name appearing first in my writing. My sister is starting with her doorman. In New York, when in doubt, the doorman is a good place to start.

Have you ever considered a first or a last name change?

7 thoughts on “I’m Changing My Name Again And Here Is Why

  1. My best friend, Maggie, passed away last weekend. She was one of the true loves of my life and I am me because of her. My first name is Joan but she always called me Yona.
    Yona is my Hebrew name and it means dove Alot of people besides Mags sometimes call me Yona and when they do, it feels intimate and endearing.
    Yet, as I get older, I have come to love my given name which is Joan too. There are very few little girl Joans and that, somehow, feels just right.
    A select few also call me Joanna when I get really dark and insatiable and feisty. Joanna has to be reigned in but also needs a lot of kindness and conpasssion.
    Even before Maggie died, I seriously considered changing my first name to Yona. After writing this, I realize I like having a nickname or two. And, as corny as it sounds, “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
    Thanks for your thought provoking piece, Dr K(just to cover all bases!).
    Xoxo, Joan

    1. YONA, I didn’t realize Maggie called you by your Hebrew name. Yona suits you. Joan seems more like your name in childhood somehow. When you’re my annoying cousin you are always Joan!

      I’m taking some issue with Shakespeare, I think a name may make a difference.

      Love you madly (even when you were Elizabeth Lake)

      XOXOX, ANNCO – now THAT covers all the bases.

  2. My name Spiro is an immigration officer’s idea of our real name Shapira. So I don’t mind good seating at Greek restaurants. All Shapira’s coming from Israel to America used my great-uncles misspelling. All my Israeli family named Kahana-Shapira in the 19th Century now use Shapira. Why did I never change? Maybe adapting to first name Herzl was enough. Since we met when you were a resident, I have always loved you (with the propriety expected of one of your teachers) and would continue to so care with whatever name either of us is called.

    1. Herzl, I always thought it was interesting that you had two last names. Before I met you, Herzl was only a last name after the great visionary Theodore. You are fortunate to have 2 very strong, memorable names. What does the R stand for?
      The love is mutual, we have a special connection since day 1 at Good Sam!

    2. Thanks Annco! One more thing… When I did consider changing my name, a wise friend suggested I go to the Mikveh to ritualize the gesture. Great idea!

  3. My father gave me two names Herzl and Robert. When I was 6 he said I could chose the common American name, Robert or the unusual Jewish name , Herzl. He said the unchosen name would just be an initial and the choice was up to me. I asked what Herzl did and he gave me an explanation of Zionism and Herzl’s contribution. I asked what Robert did, and he said it was just a common name he had picked and he had no idea which Robert did what. …so I naturally picked Herzl R. and thanks to my father’s Z”L wisdom, that is who I remain. The reason for Spiro is just laziness. It really is not my name. Love, Herzl

  4. I love the thought, and I loved reading the comments. When I redid my ID in Eilat I changed my name back to Lutsky, and I like it that way!

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