by Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz

A Name in the Closet

My father’s name is Kantrowitz. He changed it to Kaye in 1942.

At the dyke bar in Portland I tell my best Jewish friend that I’m thinking about taking back my mother’s maiden name. “Kaye is a made up name,” I say, “It has no history.” Amy, historian, tells me, “Just because a history isn’t pretty doesn’t mean it isn’t history.”

Kaye is both history and closet. History is a kind of closet. Kaye is Kantrowitz Kaminsky Keminetsky Kowalsky Klutz Korelowich Ka… (think about asking every Jew you know: what was your name?)

adopted from Nice Jewish Girls: A Lesbian Anthology


Who Are We?

The articles in this special section:

Making up our Shared Name

by Rabbi Zeise Wild Wolf

Jew by Choice, Name by Choice

by Kiera Aviya Koester

I Love My Name

by Troim Katz-Blacker Handler

A Bitter Blow

by Mara Benjamin

Wacky Macky

by Maxine Silverman

The Wisdom of Change

by Sophia Batsheva Rosenberg

The Pronunciation of My Name

by Rachel S. Havrelock

A Name in the Closet

by Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz

Feminist Son, Angry Mom

by Ann Klaff Lontein

The Power of Name

by Esther Gerstenfeld Radick

Out of the Flames

by Phyllis Pacheco

A Dad’s Choice

by Seena Candy Sweet

Wave of Emotion

by Rabbi Leila Gal Berner

Each of Us Has a Name

poetry by Zelda