Sunday, July 21, 2013

Last Name

When I was in reserve duty a few years ago, one of my friends told me he wanted to change his last name. His last name, he told me, was Yemenite and he wanted something more Israeli. I told him that although I could understand why many Jews did it when they arrived in new countries or why the early Zionists did it on arrival to the Ottoman Empire/Mandate, I didn't think there was a need to do it then and definitely not now. If your family has committed to live on this land, then you're already as Israeli as it gets. Changing your last name won't change that. On a personal level, I feel it's insulting to your family's lineage to do so.

Yesterday, I found another perspective to this in an article remembering the late R' David Sabato:

When the family made aliyah (immigration to Israel) from Egypt, one of the sons asked Saba (grandfather in Hebrew, referring to R' David) if they can change their last name to something more Israeli. Saba answered, "Know this my son - the name does not make the man, however, the opposite is true. You and your brothers will ensure that the name Sabato will be positively mentioned in every place.

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