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Who Is the Author of My Memoir?

Forget the fifty titles for the memoir I’m currently submitting to independent

publishers, I can’t even settle on the author’s name.

My father told the officiating rabbi thirty minutes before my chuppa that I was

“christened” Judy Stonehill.

For my first twenty-six years Stonehill tailed my Judy. One of the reasons I came to

Israel fifty-one years ago was to find a nice Jewish name.

Labensohn works in English, but Israeli clerks invariably turn me into a Levinsin or a

Lavinson by inserting yuds in various syllables and deleting the dot from the bet.

After I divorced twenty years ago, I was free to change my name, but didn’t. There

were enough changes to deal with and bureaucratic issues to settle.  I was not about

to add another challenge. “It’s bad enough you abandoned us,” said my daughter. “At

least keep the same name.”

Eventually, she got married and changed her name.  Years later my first-born son cut

and Hebraicized his name to Lavi.

My first option for a pseudonym is Judy Steinberg. My father’s name was Steinberg

until 1927, when he Americanized it to Stonehill.  But Steinberg was a name his own

father had picked up from some nice Jew in Hamburg who helped Joseph Gyshinsky

board a trans-Atlantic boat.

Judy Gyshinsky, my second option. I’ve been rolling that around my tongue for

several years, but it still feels too Ukranian for me.

When I’m in a heavily mother-loving mode I think about adapting my beautiful late-

mother’s maiden name. Judy Grossman, option three. I could live with that

Hungarian name, though I have too much antipathy towards Hungary lately.

Since I’ve been living in Israel for half a century, maybe it’s time to Hebraicize my

name. (No, Word Check, not Herbicide).  Throw out Stonehill and Labensohn and

become Har Evan. This is a Hebrew translation of Stonehill and Steinberg.  But then

I am confronted with the contradiction in having an American first name and a

Hebrew last name. “Judy?” Israelis say, ignoring the tzip-tzuck above the gimmel,

and call me Gudi.

It’s probably time to rename that contradiction of identities and call is a plurality of

identities. A wealth of identities. Acceptance of multiple and porous identities. Judy

Har Even. Or Judy Lev. I rather like that last option. It would look good in 16 pt.

white Calibri print, boldly covering the bottom third of my memoir’s front cover.

Who’s she? Never heard of her, publicists will say. Not one item on Google. No

Facebook. No platform.  Nada. Must be a new Israeli upstart.

No worries. I’m used to being an unknown entity. When I had my winning essay

anthologized in In Fact: The Best of Creative Nonfiction (Norton, 2005) and two

other college writing texts, my pseudonym was Judyth Har-Even (sic).  The

publishing world has never heard from her since.

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