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Jew by Choice, Name by Choice

As I studied Judaism in preparation for conversion, the name I’d always loved began to itch and not fit very well. Kristin, you see, is sometimes pronounced “Christian.” Even when pronounced correctly, it no longer felt right. I combed Hebrew name books in vain for the right name. At last, it came to me while taking a shower: Kiera. And, for my Hebrew name, I settled on Yakira, which means precious, of which Kiera could be a diminutive.

A year after my conversion, I found a famous Jewish Kiera. Esther Kiera was influential at die sultan’s court in 16th century Turkey. Among other good works, she had a hand in mitigating a decree that would have destroyed the Jewish communities of the Ottoman Empire.

My parents think I’m mildly nuts. Most people were less emotionally involved and kindly and quickly adapted to my new name.

It took a little time before it felt right. At first, it was like when I went to write my name, sometimes I’d forget and write the old one. But, after a while, it started feeling like it was me. Of course I let my parents call me whatever they want.