ONLINEJewish Name Changing in America

March 20, 2024 Free
Photo shows immigrant family looking at Statue of Liberty from Ellis Island.c1930
The Statue of Liberty seen from Ellis Island (Courtesy U.S. Library of Congress)

Our images of name changing are frequently clichés: movie stars who adopted new names or Ellis Island officials who changed immigrants’ names. Kirsten Fermaglich upends these cliches by examining previously unexplored name change petitions. In 20th-century New York City, thousands of ordinary Jews legally changed their names to respond to institutionalized antisemitism. While name changing allowed Jewish families to achieve middle-class status, the practice also became a source of family pain and community stigma.

About our presenter:

Kirsten Fermaglich is professor of history and Jewish studies at Michigan State University. Her most recent book, “A Rosenberg by Any Other Name: A History of Jewish Name Changing in America” (New York University Press, 2018) was awarded the Saul Viener Book Prize by the American Jewish Historical Society in June 2019. From January 2022 through June 2023, she served as a National Archives Distinguished Fellow, tasked with studying antisemitism in the United States federal government. Fermaglich is also the author of “American Dreams and Nazi Nightmares: Early Holocaust Consciousness and Liberal America, 1957-1965” (Brandeis University Press, 2006) and the co-editor of the Norton Critical Edition of “Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique” (2013), with Lisa Fine. From 2016 through 2021, she was co-editor of the journal American Jewish History, along with Daniel Soyer and Adam Mendelsohn. She currently serves on the board of the Association for Jewish Studies.

This series is made possible by a grant from the Congregation Ahabat Shalom Religious Fund.

+ More... - Less...


Fact Sheet
Wednesday, March 20, 2024, 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

CJP provides the above links concerning third-party events for your convenience only. CJP has no control over the content of the linked-to websites or events they describe, and accepts no responsibility for the websites, including any advertising or products or services on or available from such sites, or for any loss or damage that may arise from your attending, or registering to attend, the described events. If you decide to access any of the third-party websites linked to below, you do so entirely at your own risk and subject to the terms and conditions of use for such websites and event attendance. CJP is not responsible or liable to you or any third party for the content or accuracy of any materials provided by any third parties. All statements and/or opinions expressed in the linked-to materials or at the described events, and all commentary, articles and other content provided at the third-party websites or at the events, are solely the opinions and the responsibility of the persons or entities operating the linked-to websites and events. The inclusion of any link on this website does not imply that CJP endorses the described event, or the linked-to website or its operator. MORE

More From...

More In...