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Haifa, Israel
Divorced and independent and still looking for Mr. Right in the back of the fridge.

Friday, February 21, 2014

A Rose By Any Other Name


I changed my name. 

As of February 2nd I am no longer Rosa Ziv, I am Rachel Rose Shalev. 

Carrying around my ex-husband's last name has been weighing on me for years. 12 years divorced, and the last 10 of them deciding on a new name while picking up the pieces of my life.

For years I had the last name Sarid in mind. It means survivor, or remnant, in Hebrew. I thought it was a very Zionistic name, and descriptive of my life. 

I mentioned the name to a woman I consult with on life's more ethereal issues. She replied, "Why do you want to just survive?" 

So years passed without an alternative - I must have been in survival mode longer than I thought. But in the last few months I decided on Shalev. Let's just say the name has some roots for me in Israel. But mostly it means Tranquil. 

Last name chosen, why not change the first name that seemed to be bothering the shit out of me recently. 

The name Rosa loses all its poetry in Israel. Not only is it reminiscent of a Moroccan grandmother (no offense to the wonderful Moroccan grandmothers, but I'm not one) it is the subject of a Yehoram Gaon song which everyone who meets me feels the need to sing, and then ask me during my last 29 years in Israel if I've heard it... The chorus starts "Ach, ach, ach, Rosa, Rosa, Rosa..." Somehow, it just doesn't make it to the list of names you love from songs. 

Determined to feel better about my name, I kept the name Rose, the grandmother for whom I was named, and armed with the Hebrew name Rachel from my youth, I changed my first name, too, to Rachel Rose.

I'll do something I never did in this blog and use the Hebrew, but I just have to show you why I chose Rachel, רייצ'ל over רחל. The Israelis among you will understand

Explanation out of the way, how does it make me feel? I walked out of the Ministry of Interior with my new name, smiling.  

I'm still getting used to it, as are others. Most people at work called me Rose anyway, but now they are having fun calling me Rach. I like it. 

I think that until I change my name in the bank, on my US passport and on Google, the transformation won't be total. 

  • Has it changed my life? Not in the last 3 weeks, but I certainly feel like I'm facing forward instead of carrying the burdens of the past. 
  • Do I still get lonely? Hell yes. 
  • Do I let it get me down? Once a week. 
  • Do I feel optimistic? I feel I am capable of change. 

Last year this time I pierced an extra hole in each ear because I needed a change and didn't have the money to move house. This year I shed some baggage. 

I believe that  2014 is my year. The year that great things will happen. 

  • The year that when I get dressed, I will have someplace to go. 
  • The year that when I need a hug, it will come from someone other than my kids.
  • The year that my mantras will manifest in reality.
  • The year that the universe will smile on me.
Wish me luck. 

Rachel Rose Shalev. 

1 comment:

  1. When I came to Israel it didn't occur to me to register as Rachel and not Rahel. But everyone calls me Rachel - I insist on it. I wish I had used Rachel in Hebrew but at least I know that if anyone calls me Rahel then it's just business and they don't know me. I don't have the energy to change it all. (By the way - the bank accepts checks made out to Rachel in Hebrew or English).