Forget the thirty-nine titles for the memoir I’m currently submitting to independent publishers, I can’t even settle on the author’s name.
Ahhhhrr. That’s me, dressed up as the MGM lion, saying I’m confused.
My father told the officiating rabbi thirty minutes before my chuppa that I was “christened” Judy Stonehill.
For 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 cut and Hebraicized his name to Lavi. National brit as rite of passage.
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, looking at me as if I’ve made a mistake. “You mean Yehudit,” they declare, everyone a know-it-all.
It’s probably time to own that contradiction of identities and rename it. Plurality of identities. Wealth of identities. Acceptance of multiple and porous identities. Judy Har Evan. 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, I published under the pseudonym Judyth Har-Even (sic). The publishing world has never heard from her since.
In small print on the back cover of In Fact: The Best of Creative Nonfiction, the publisher describes the book as “A cross section of the famous and those bound to become so . . .”
If you haven’t heard of me yet, wait and wonder if, when Yudit Buckeye’s memoir hits the bookstores, it’s not the same old confused Judy from writeinisrael.com, bound for glory and fame, wearing a new dress.