Just Married

Becoming Mrs. Lichtman

By Simi Lichtman

  • Print
  • Share Share

Unlike many women in my position — that is, married — I never spent any time debating what last name would follow my own personal Mrs. Unlike Sisterhood blog editor Abigail Jones, I was never “paralyzed” by the last name conundrum and all the baggage that comes with it, because for me it wasn’t a conundrum. I always knew that I would take my husband’s name.

That’s not to say the last name debate seems trivial to me. On the contrary; I grew up with my own last name dilemmas, and they started way before I began thinking about marriage. My father died when I was three, and my mother got remarried before I turned five. My siblings and I all took on our stepfather’s last name — but not legally. We were raised Eisenmans — in school, to our friends, even on our doctor’s files — but to the government, and on all our legal documents, we were Lamperts.

Simi Lichtman
Simi had no hesitation in taking Jeremy’s last name.

This disparity didn’t really matter when we were younger, when our only real legal documents were our passports. I resisted choosing between my legal last name and the one everyone knew me as for as long as I could — through high school, I continued to be known as Simi Eisenman, despite the “Lampert” clearly printed on my driver’s license. But then I went to college, where my legal name was on file and on all the class rosters, got confused, and took my Simi Eisenman Facebook account, added a Lampert, and became Simi Lampert Eisenman.

When people asked me my name, I would feel overwhelmed by the options. Do they know my parents? Are they trying to play “Jewish geography”? If so, which last name will they know?

“Is that a hard question?” they would joke, not realizing just how confusing it actually was. Who doesn’t know their own name? I secretly wished I could get away with just having one name, like Cher or Beyonce.

Choosing a last name was more than picking a title, though, or playing Jewish geography. To me, it always felt like I was stating a preference. If I went by Eisenman, my Lampert grandparents might feel like I was choosing my stepfather over their son. Perhaps it would seem like I was disrespecting my dead father, and indifferently erasing his memory and the part of me that comes from him. On the other hand, choosing Lampert felt like an equally cold statement, one that said I didn’t respect or appreciate the man who raised me, that I didn’t belong in part to him and his entire extended family. So I went with Lampert Eisenman, and would try to avoid giving a last name as often as I could.

To me, then, the idea of choosing just one last name upon marriage seemed like the answer to my problem. I get married, and boom! I have one last name. Done. Settled. I am Lichtman. It was easy to ignore the implications of going with my husband’s last name – was I being a bad feminist?

On top of all this, growing up with a different legal last name from my parents was difficult enough that I knew I would want the same last name as my children. Maybe it was just the part of me that needed to justify my own decision, but I came up with a whole list of reasons that keeping my own name wouldn’t be a good choice no matter what: My children would have a different name than I would, or, if they took mine, different from their father’s. People would just assume I went by my husband’s name anyway. My family wouldn’t be “The Lichtmans,” we’d be “The Lichtmans and whatever her last name is.” Choosing my father’s (a man) last name over my husband’s (a man) last name didn’t seem all that feminist, anyway.

Changing my last name was an easier process than I expected. We got married in the state of New York, where you can state on your marriage license your intention to take on your husband’s surname. Seeing as I needed a new driver’s license anyway, I simply took my shiny new marriage certificate with me to the DMV and had the clerk put Lichtman as my last name. It’s official; I’m a Lichtman. (It was even easier to change it for my career, as I simply emailed my editor and asked that I now be published under the name Simi Lichtman.)

Lichtman isn’t the easiest name to pronounce, and I’ve learned to accept that most people will call me Licktman. As the only son in his family, it’s important to Jeremy that he carries on the Lichtman name, and I’m happy to help him out. But I’ve never put too much significance into a last name; no matter what, I’ll always be Simi. Last names, for me, can come and go. And I’m happy to finally have one last name to stick with. Forever.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: married name, last name, husband, cher, beyonce, Jewish, wife

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.