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Book Festival

Book Festival - Kirsten Fermaglich

Date: November 17, 2019Time: 1:30 pm - 3:30 pm

Kirsten Fermaglich
A Rosenberg by Any Other Name: A History of Jewish Name Changing in America

We tend to think of name changing as something that only immigrants do - or perhaps movies stars - hoping to escape their families and find their way in a glamorous, rich, New World. But beginning in World War I and intensifying during World War II, thousands of native-born American Jews in New York City changed their names together as family units. Why would these ordinary Jewish Americans seeking jobs not as actors or singers, but as businessmen, lawyers, and secretaries change their names? We'll discuss their motivations, their experiences, and their struggles.

How did leaders in the Jewish community respond to name changing? How did Jewish comedians, writers, and directors respond? How did name changers' neighbors and co-workers respond? We will talk about negative responses from Jewish leaders after WWII, who tended to assume that many name changers were trying to escape the Jewish community. Quietly challenging these negative images, however, were the voices of Jewish name changers who continued to describe themselves as Jews, explaining that they changed their names so that their Jewish identities would not impede their ability to get through daily life.

Sun, Nov 17 • Siegal College LL

Session 1: 1:30 PM

Session 2: 3:00 PM