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!
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • 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.