Sisterhood Blog

Women's Messy Name-Change Situation

By Elissa Strauss

  • Print
  • Share Share
Nate Lavey

Dear Abigail,

You end your recent essay about changing your last name after you get married in a state of ambivalence.

Simply put, there is no easy answer to the age-old and hugely common dilemma of how to preserve one’s family while simultaneously creating a new one. Just as surely as I want to share my last name with my future husband and future kids … I also want to hold on to my personal and professional identity.

The day before your piece ran, New York magazine had a piece about how more women are taking their husbands last names, kind of. Inspired by Beyonce’s decision to title her new tour “The Mrs. Carter Show” (Carter is her husband, Jay-Z’s, last name), Chloe Angyal writes about how surname choices have become “situational” for many women. This means that sometimes, most often professionally, they use their maiden name, and others times, their husband’s name.

I think the “situational” last name might be the answer to the ambivalence you are feeling, and is probably the answer to mine, too.

When I got married three years ago, I didn’t take my husband’s last name. Others assumed that this was, yet another, feminist statement on my part. But the truth is, neither of us really cared. I think I put “Elissa Popper” on the papers we filed with the state of New York, but never did anything to actually change my name. As I explained to many, I would never be offended if someone called me “Elissa Popper,” but that at the same time I would still use my surname of Strauss. The whole thing seemed unimportant, really.

And then I had a baby. When my son’s bassinet was labelled with his first name and my last name at the hospital—even though this felt particularly fitting post-labor— I knew that my the time had come to stop being so nonchalant about my last name. As we began to receive packages for him with the name Popper on it, I began to register the familial dissonance. How could I have a different last name than my son?

And so, I (kinda, sorta) made the decision to go “situational” and become a Popper in my personal life, while keeping Strauss professionally. I have my concerns about this, as it does kinda underscore the fractured nature of a working mom’s life. You literally have to be two different people. But, besides creating a whole new surname, like New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren did, this seems like the best option. Now for the paperwork.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: sisterhood, names, jodi rudoren, jewish women, chloe angyal, beyonce, abigail jones

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!
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • 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.