What’s In A Name?

This is basically a call for help.  I’m not looking to CHANGE my name.  I’m looking to FIX my name.

Born in the United States, my Jewish name never had a connection to my legal name.  At my brit, my parents gave me the name “Yehuda Yaakov” because I was named for people.  However, when it came to a legal name to put on the birth certificate, they wanted me to have an English name.  Not liking the English translation of my Hebrew name, they opted for Joshua Michael instead of Judah Jacob.  All seems fine, and it was never an issue.  For anything religious, such as being called up to the Torah, my Hebrew name was used.  For everything else, such as school, doctor, drivers license, etc., my English name was used.

And then I came to Israel.

When I first joined the army, they wrote “Josh” as my name on my military ID card.  Out of curiosity, I inquired whether they could put Yehuda Yaakov instead.  I was told that “we can’t do anything but what your passport says.  Your passport doesn’t say Yehuda, it doesn’t even say Yehoshua, so Josh is the only name we can put down.”  Interesting logic, with something to it.

So for years, I’ve been Josh in Israel.  Throughout my IDF service, I was Josh.  At the bank, I’m Josh.  In school, I’m Josh.  No one ever questioned whether I was really Yehoshua.  Because my name is Josh, NOT Yehoshua.  When I fly through Ben Gurion Airport, no one at security or passport control looked at my passport and called me Yehoshua, even when speaking with me in Hebrew.

Then I made the decision to make Aliyah.  A lot of questions regarding what my exact name should be.  Nefesh B’Nefesh had assured me that if my name was an English name, I would be able to dictate in the airport how I wanted my name to appear.  Of course man plans and Israeli bureaucracy laughs.  Upon getting to the airport, I first went to the Immigrant Absorption Ministry.  They gave me the name Yehoshua Michael (the Biblical translation of my full legal name,) while also misspelling my last name, and told me they don’t deal with name changes, but that the next desk, the Interior Ministry, will take care of it.  But that desk told me that they write whatever the first desk gave them, and I would’ve had to change my name with the first desk.  Been an Israeli for less than 10 minutes, and they’re already playing shtick with me.

They told me all I need to do is go to the Interior Ministry in Petach Tikva, and everything would be sorted out.  So I did that.  And I wasted 3 hours of my life.  Every person I spoke had a different spiel, but things ran along the lines of “Josh” isn’t a name, “Josh isn’t a name,” “Yehoshua is your real name,” etc.  Why can I be Josh in the IDF but not in the State of Israel?  Does that even make sense?

At this point, I’m at wit’s end.  I filled out a “Name Correction Form,” but was not approved.  I refuse to pay money to fix my name to what it actually is.  Say Yehoshua 1,000 times, it doesn’t make it my name.

About the Author
Josh Weixelbaum is currently studying for an MBA in Marketing and Finance at Bar Ilan University where he recently completed a B.A. in Political Science and Economics. He fights online for better and more transparent government in Israel and for a better public transportation system in Israel. After making Aliyah from New Jersey 5 years ago, Josh served in the Shaked battalion of the Givati brigade, serving on both the Gaza border and in the Shchem (Nablus) region.