A Rosenberg by Any Other Name: A History of Jewish Name Changing in America

New York Univ. Oct. 2018. 256p. notes. index. ISBN 9781479867202. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781479872992. HIST
OrangeReviewStarFermaglich (history, Jewish studies, Michigan State Univ.; American Dreams and Nazi Nightmares) has written an important history of the evolution of Jewish name-changing in America, not specifically as an escape from Jewish identity but as a means toward greater access to success in social, cultural, and political life in 20th-century America. In tracing the balancing act between the desire to become more American while experiencing the loss of ethnic pride, this scholarly book shows that most name-changing came about as a result of anti-Semitism both before and after World War II. Using court documents and other public records, Fermaglich demonstrates that Jewish name-changing was an important sociological phenomenon from the 1910s to the 1960s. The well-written and thoroughly documented narrative effectively demonstrates the struggle that individuals underwent to become fully realized as Jewish Americans.
VERDICT Highly recommended for general readers as well as academic collections of Jewish studies, ethnic studies, and immigration studies.

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