I Love My Name

My name is Troim, a Yiddish word that means a dream of hope, an ideal. The word is often used in Yiddish poetry. My father frequently introduced me this way: “This is my daughter Troim; she never changed her name.” He thought I would. I have never met another Troim.

My father, Menke Katz, was a Yiddish/ English poet. My mother, Chaske Blacker, wrote 0short stories for the Yiddish press. I don’t know whether I was affected more by the fact that my parents were writers or by my name or both.

Although I worked many years as an English teacher, I didn’t start writing until the night after my father’s funeral in April 1991 and have since written two books of Yiddish love poetry and a recently published English-Yiddish-Japanese guide to Japan.

Lately, instead of just going by my husband’s name, I have been hyphenating my name: Troim Katz-Blacker Handler. Handler is my married name. Frank and I have been married since we were too young to vote. My first surname was Katz, which I bore through high school. My names are me. My parents were divorced when I was in junior high, and my mother, brother and I lived with her parents, the Slackers. When my mother died at 38, my grandparents had my name legally changed to theirs; but I used it only a short time and married soon afterward.

Many people mispronounce Troim; it’s troym, one syllable. When strangers ask me what it means, my explanations vary. If I feel I’m in a hostile, possibly anti-Semitic environment, I say it’s a last name used as a first name. If the strangers seem “arty,” I say it’s from Schumann’s Traumerai. If I’m with Jews, hostile or friendly, I tell the truth. I love my name.