“Shinui Shem” Change Your Name, Change Your Luck


When I was 15 years old, my mother died. She was 46. At that time, my aunt told me, “your grandmother and great grandmother also died at age 46, so you’d better watch out when you’re 46.” I always lived in fear of being 46. My panic started when I turned 45. It was then that a scholar/friend educated me about an old Jewish custom. She told me, “Years ago, people used to change their name to fool the Angel of Death.”


May God who blessed our ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah, bless Amy Dara Hochberg who has come for an aliya with reverence for God and respect for the Torah and Shabbat and the Festival. Our holy rabbis said that three things cause a person’s destiny to change, one of them being the change of the person’s name. We have fulfilled what they said and her name has been changed. Her name among the people Israel will now be Ahuvah Nirah bat Baruch v’Shoshana. May the Holy One bless her and all of her family and may God send blessing and success in her every endeavor, together with our fellow Jews everywhere. And let us say: Amen.


Several women have said that they wanted to change their names in order to separate themselves from their parents. In situations where children have been abused, many choose to later to be called for an aliya with a new Hebrew name which includes spiritual symbolic parents.


Separating from my husband was a new stage of life—and I had a very hard time using his last name. When I reverted back to my maiden name I felt that the pieces of the puzzle were fitting together again.

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