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August 1, 2008

Me a name I call myself

http://www.jewishjournal.com/blog/item/me_a_name_i_call_myself_20080801/

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I came across a recent article on Ynet in which Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger said that a woman who does not take her husband’s last name is keeping the home from being united:

Advice to women from the chief rabbi: Married women should give up their maiden name, Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger told hundreds of women at a convention Monday dedicated to Jewish family values and religiosity.
 
“We are currently in an era of permissiveness and there are many messages that create cracks in the Jewish home’s whole structure,” the rabbi told the women in attendence

Turning his attention to the question of last names, Rabbi Metzger said that even though this was not a Jewish law issue, but rather, a move that took root in the past 200 years, a woman should stick to the husband’s last name and renounce her maiden name.

“The agenda whereby a woman wants to bring the independent entity of her last name to the home should be reconsidered,” the rabbi said. “If this came out of unity it’s one thing…but If there is a message that the woman is an independent entity and the husband is an independent entity, this does not unite the home into a whole home.”

At the end of his talk, Rabbi Metzger recommended that women “reconsider the phenomenon.”

Since I was not at the conference, I did not have a chance to voice a response. But, on the off chance that Rabbi Metzger or someone in his office goes online, please take note:

Dear Rabbi Metzger,

Until you actually become a married woman, I would say that speaking out as to whether or not a married woman should change her last name is arrogant, ignorant and, dare I say, insulting.

Why not say that the husband should also take his wife’s name? Isn’t that just as unifying?

I, too, am a married Ashkenazi Jew, and since I have never met you, I can only guess that your false logic stems from one family you met where the difference in last names became an issue. I want you to know that this is not the case in all families. Not every couple where the wife keeps her maiden name is falling apart at the seams. Just like not every couple where the wife takes her husband’s name is perfect.

If there are cracks in the Jewish home, I think the couple has more important things to worry about than the wife’s last name. And if that is the dividing line between them, maybe the issue should have come up before they married.

A wife keeping her own name is not the end of Judaism or civilization. It just means that women — who chose to marry and keep their maiden names —no longer have to feel like they need to erase who they were because they add Mrs. before their first name.

Sincerely,

Mrs. Shoshana F (who is legally keeping her last name – and her husband is fine with it)

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