20 2023

Too Long, Too Foreign...Too Jewish? The Politics of Jewish Name Changing

6:45PM - 8:00PM  

VIRTUAL Program Jewish Federation of the Berkshires 196 South Street
Pittsfield, MA 01201

Contact Rabbi Daveen Litwin

Virtual program.  Please register HERE.

Our images of name changing are frequently clichés: movie stars who adopted new names or Ellis Island officials who changed immigrants’ names. Kirsten Fermaglich upends these cliches by examining previously unexplored name change petitions.  In twentieth-century New York City, thousands of ordinary Jews legally changed their names to respond to institutionalized antisemitism. While name changing allowed Jewish families to achieve middle-class status, the practice also became a source of family pain and community stigma.

Dr. Fermaglich is associate professor of history and Jewish studies at Michigan State University. Her most recent book, A Rosenberg By Any Other Name: A History of Jewish Name Changing in America, was awarded the Saul Viener Book Prize by the American Jewish Historical Society in June 2019.  Dr. Fermaglich also has a local connection--her paremts live in the Berkshires!

Purchase the book here and a portion of the proceeds will be donated back to the local Bookstore in Great Barrington.