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Making up our Shared Name

When I married, neither my spouse to be nor I wanted to take the other person’s last name as our own, nor did we want to hyphenate, and yet we wanted a shared name. So we decided to take a new last name, and proceeded with the surprisingly difficult task of choosing our name. Eventually we decided on Wolf: it felt right, it “sounded Jewish,” and we liked wolves. Our closest runners-up were Harmalakh and Azotic.

While we were at it, we changed our first and middle names too. I was born with the name Cindy Sheiyl Olsher and my husband with Peter Joseph Friedkin. I had wanted to change my names since I was 16 or so, and, having wandered through Sasha, Shifra, and others, finally fell in love with the Yiddish name I was given at birth. But Zeise, which means sweet, seemed only half true; I chose Wild as my middle name to tell the rest of the story. My husband chose to change his names to Peterskin I.E.Skin Wolf.