Ethnic Heritage

As I mentioned yesterday, I have two very different sides to my personality. One, let’s call her Alpha, is very organized, overachieving, studious, punctual, and responsible. She achieves nirvana by making lists, reading serious books, and working harder than anybody else. The other side, let’s call her Omega, is happy-go-lucky, spontaneous, hard-partying, messy, and disorganized. Her nirvana is brought about by shelling sunflower seeds, watching reruns of silly TV shows, and reading tons of trashy books.

I think that from this description it’s obvious who Alpha and Omega are. Alpha is my Jewish part and Omega is my Ukrainian part. In every situation, I feel them offering their own solutions and fighting for control. (I don’t mean this in a psychiatric way of a split personality disorder, or anything of the kind. It’s just a personal way of being.)

So I have a question to my readers who have two or more ethnicities: do you feel anything like this? Do you perceive your personality as consisting of very different parts? Of course, this is more obvious to people who have very different ethnicities in their makeup, such as Semitic and Slavic.

75 thoughts on “Ethnic Heritage

  1. I definitely have this going on. I have a side of me — the Portuguese side — that is rough and ready, incapable of feeling much pain and always sturdy. This accounts for roughly 70 percent of my personality. Then I have the more sensitive, culturally adept and emotionally aware British side to my personality. This generally leads to a situation where I go “too far” and get myself in hot water so far as the more delicate side of my personality is concerned. Sometimes I almost burn out as my ruder side wants to go and go. I have to take time out to recover and ponder.

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  2. I have no authority to address the intersections of personality and ethnic or cultural background, but not knowing something has never stopped me from talking about it so….

    My guess would be surely everybody is made of very different parts and it is just that some exhibit their different parts more obviously. My problem is that I can’t seem to channel any manic leaning aspect to a useful goal like school or work.

    On a tangent of this, as a middle American who has had any interesting ethnicity washed out generations ago, at what point is it dangerous to relate personality traits to ethnicity? Some comedians make their careers talking about such things, and I have no problem attributing some repressed emotions to my father’s upbringing but is it fine to imply it was a trait of all Kansas farmers from the 30’s? But I may be overly cautions about attributing stereotypes.

    By the way, great blog.

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    1. Thank you for the nice words about the blog!

      I’m not trying to promote stereotypes here, although it does come off a little this way. 🙂 But this is something that I find very useful as a way of understanding myself.

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  3. My first name is what I like to call my WASP name, or public name: some colleagues use that name, it is the name I use to ‘fit in’ in some contexts such as professional meetings or social events in a very (and exclusively) Anglophone culture. It is the name I use when I want to keep a certain distance from people (i.e. when I do not want to get too much involved emotionally with people for a variety of reasons).

    My second name is what we can call my private name: friends know that name. It is also the name I call myself when I think about the emotional side of my life (and this involves research, interestingly). It is the name I love.

    I came to peace with both my names. I think they offer me two different cultural capitals. Interestingly my names are attached to two different cultural heritages – French and English – and I never use them in combination. It is not complicated to figure out why 🙂

    Ol.

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    1. This is also fascinating. I have a complicated relationship with my own name. I dislike it, so I have invented a secret name for myself which is now the only way I address myself in my mind. The name is so secret that nobody in the world knows it. I wasn’t lucky like you to get two names at birth. 🙂

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      1. Have you ever thought of changing your name? Why not?

        Btw, I *love* my 1st name and, if didn’t, would probably change.

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        1. I drown in paperwork as it is, so imagine the hassle it would mean to change the name, what with all the diplomas and publications I have. I had my first publication before it was even legal for me to change my name. 🙂

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      2. Since I have a very Russian 1st name, my mother even would advise to change it to more Israeli one since it can be a potential disadvantage. While searching for a job f.e. Do you think 1st name is a part of one’s identity or that it isn’t since you remain you under any name, as my mother thinks?

        In Old Testament God sometimes changes names to represent a change:

        Genesis 17:5 – “No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations.”
        Genesis 17:15 – Then God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name.”

        In Israel most new immigrants, especially children and teens, change names. Unlike in FSU where a Jew is always a Jew for antisemitic people, in Israel people view changing a name as a sign to show belonging to a new country & society. At least, that’s what an adult immigrant told me once and too advised to change a 1st name.

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        1. “Do you think 1st name is a part of one’s identity or that it isn’t since you remain you under any name, as my mother thinks”

          – It depends on how you feel about the name. I don’t even refer to myself with that name and I feel very weird when people do. I have expressly asked my husband not to use it, for example, because when he does, I feel like we are fighting or something. I then invented yet another name for him to call me. 🙂

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          1. “In Israel most new immigrants, especially children and teens, change names. Unlike in FSU where a Jew is always a Jew for antisemitic people, in Israel people view changing a name as a sign to show belonging to a new country & society.”

            – OK, that, in my opinion, is unhealthy. It’s one thing to choose a name that simply sounds better to you. But effacing yourself to this extent in a sad and futile attempt to fit in does not bode well for such a person’s future.

            My earliest childhood friend immigrated to Canada several years before I did. When I met her in Toronto, she showed me stacks of magazines that she read and underlined concepts, TV shows, personalia that she didn’t know and then researched them in order to fit in. That was really sad to observe.

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      3. //effacing yourself to this extent in a sad and futile attempt to fit in does not bode well for such a person’s future.

        I see a difference between your friend’s behavior and changing a name. She took it to an extreme very seldom taken, but most people *are* influenced by society quite a lot and it’s a standard part of human condition. My brother arrived at age of 5 and soon himself changed his name and now doesn’t like me to call him by a previous one. Do you really think it’s unconnected to society? That he would’ve decided on the change to a Hebrew name in Ukraine too? Or that he must be psychologically unhealthy because of it?

        I’ve seen many children/teens that changed or Hebrewtized names and they are perfectly healthy. And don’t try too hard as in your example.

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        1. You said specifically that they change names “as a sign that they belong.” The problem is that doing this to belong pretty much guarantees you will never belong. Groups are always intensely suspicious of people who try hard to fit in. The best way to fit in anywhere is to abstain from trying.

          I know countless people who are stuck in the immigrant ghetto in spite of falling over themselves to fit in. Yet I always am accepted instantly precisely because I keep correcting people with “I’m not one of you. I’m an immigrant.” As a result, I keep hearing how hard it is for people to see me as an immigrant.

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  4. I’m adopted so I don’t know what ethnic heritage I should blame for my characteristics. So I just make them up: I call my organized side Alpha Centaurian because it is usually light years away. My Neptunian side is a bit closer, and is what makes me sit here fooling around on the internet instead of doing things that need to be done.

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  5. I have two sides as well. One is the high-achieving full professor, leader of my field. The other is the irresponsible slob given to too many martinis. Yet I am WASP on both sides, por los cuatro costados. I think being divided like that is simply called being a human being.

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    1. “One is the high-achieving full professor, leader of my field. The other is the irresponsible slob given to too many martinis.”

      – Yes, that’s me! Except I’m not yet a leader in my field and it’s port instead of martinis. Hmmmm…. 🙂

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  6. Yes! I think many people feel this kind of cognitive dissonance within themselves.
    I have a strong, insensitive, tough, rational, self-interested side and I have a more emotional, sensitive, disorganized side. I don’t feel very much identity with my ethnic heritage but I think the strong side comes from my mother, and the more emotional dreamy side comes from me. I was a very sensitive, and empathetic child and my mother taught me that crying in front of people was bad, and that being strong and independent was important.
    I’m very glad I have both sides.

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  7. “The other side, let’s call her Omega, is happy-go-lucky, spontaneous, hard-partying, messy, and disorganized”. That’s my Argentinean side (although I wouldn’t call it an ethnicity). I think my Jewish side is very happy with my Argentinean side, and they complement very well. I am hard working, and love the pursuit of knowledge. Then, it’s the Argentinean side. And I love it and embrace it, because it makes me happy. I have no need to become less spontaneous or organized. I’ve enjoyed life well enough with this mix until today, and I plan to keep doing so.

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      1. I think there is no “one size fits all”. Everybody has different ambitions and goals in life, and I am pretty hedonistic in that regard. Even if it means that I am less productive as a scholar. The key, in my opinion, is to figure out what makes you happy, and then try to improve to achieve it. Screw perfectionism. I know it sounds cliché, but there is a lot of truth to it.

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  8. My Jewish side is my kvetcher, the complainer, the one who is a stickler for perfection, knows what she wants, and, better yet, knows how to get it. My Blackfoot side is the contemplative side, my observer, the one that likes to pause momentarily and wonder, how did I get here, and do I know where I am going, and how I will get there? They complement each other nicely, but it’s fairly obvious that the kvetcher is the dominant one, isn’t it? 🙂

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  9. //You said specifically that they change names “as a sign that they belong.”

    That’s how it is. Whether they do it consciously or not, it doesn’t matter, that’s the social role of changing names.

    //I know countless people who are stuck in the immigrant ghetto in spite of falling over themselves to fit in. Yet I always am accepted instantly precisely because I keep correcting people with “I’m not one of you. I’m an immigrant.”

    No, it’s the opposite in cases I am talking about. Those people do belong and aren’t stuck in any ghetto. Specially since I am talking of children and teens, who graduated from school here or even went to 1st grade in Israel. I think I am talking about a different phenomenon.

    Also Israel isn’t America and has a different view of Jewish immigrants than US has of (all kinds of) immigrants to it. At least, I can’t see how there wouldn’t be significant differences.

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    1. “That’s how it is. Whether they do it consciously or not, it doesn’t matter, that’s the social role of changing names.”

      – As I said before, transforming yourself in any way in order for others to like you better is not a sign of a healthy psyche.

      “No, it’s the opposite in cases I am talking about. Those people do belong and aren’t stuck in any ghetto.”

      – In their minds, they are.

      “Also Israel isn’t America and has a different view of Jewish immigrants than US has of (all kinds of) immigrants to it. ”

      – My grandparents Russionized their names because of Soviet anti-semitism. It had no effect and they were always unhappy about it. That was an act of self-preservation, albeit a useless one. Are you saying that Jews in Israel are in the same situation that Soviet Jews were in?? That would be very sad.

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      1. //Are you saying that Jews in Israel are in the same situation that Soviet Jews were in?? That would be very sad.

        I said the opposite, actually.
        As for “Soviet anti-semitism. It had no effect” – I said it myself. In Israel it’s a different situation, as I explained.

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  10. //Do you perceive your personality as consisting of very different parts?

    No. (I am Semitic and Slavic too, yes?)

    Anyway, you should be happy it isn’t 1-2-3 good qualities and the bad 95% that you dislike. 🙂

    Btw, do you think astrology is an utter bunk or there is something there? Do you see your traits in your sign?

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  11. The changing of names in Israel is a lot more complicated than el claims. The first generation of immigrants to Israel changed their name because they were fleeing the holocaust and did not want to carry on the names of their oppressors.

    There was, at the same time, a trend to name kids using Hebrew words–as opposed to the traditional biblical names–to show a political connection to the newly occupied land. We recently saw an example of this when Benjamin Netanyahu claimed in front of the general assembly of the UN some deep connection to the land of Israel because of his last name, all along forgetting to mention that his father was born in Poland/Russia as Mileikowsky.

    Recently it has become trendy to change your name back to the original German/Polish names and reconnect with your homeland, to the extent that currently Germany has the sixth largest jewish population in the world, having recently overtaken Russia in the rankings.

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    1. //Recently it has become trendy to change your name back to the original German/Polish names

      Do you mean in Israel? Never noticed.
      And 1st names or family names?
      Also those were probably German/Polish *Jewish* names, no?
      I talk about a completely Christian 1st name, which, trust me, is as unfashionable in Israel as ever.

      //and reconnect with your homeland

      Do you mean immigrate back to it? Otherwise, how is Germany’s Jewish population connected?

      As far as I know from FSU many (most?) Jewish people went OR to Israel OR to Germany AND once they were in Israel, very few went to Germany from Israel.

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      1. Out of the many many people I know who had emigrated to Israel, only two families stayed there. The rest left. My grandfather went back to Ukraine. My ex-husband’s relatives went to Canada. My best friend from high school went to the US. Other relatives also went to the US. I don’t know anybody who specifically went to Germany from Israel, though.

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      2. And 1st names or family names?

        Mostly family names.

        Do you mean immigrate back to it?

        Yes.

        once they were in Israel, very few went to Germany from Israel.

        Many people are emigrating out of Israel. In fact emigration has outpaced immigration since 2007.

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    2. //Out of the many many people I know who had emigrated to Israel, only two families stayed there. The rest left.

      If you look at statistics, they’ll show a different picture. Most people don’t leave anywhere.

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      1. “n Israel, the number of emigrants exceeded the number of immigrants for the first time in 20 years, the Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot reported Friday.

        Many emigrants were recent arrivals who wanted to leave Israel again, the report said. In 2007, 14,400 immigrants are expected in Israel while 20,000 people are expected to leave the country, according to the report based on figures for the first months of 2007.

        The last time emigration exceeded immigration was in the aftermath of the 1973 Yom Kippur War and in 1983 and 1984 when inflation was high.

        Meanwhile the Maariv newspaper reported that approximately a quarter of the Israeli population was considering emigration.

        Almost half of the country’s young people were thinking of leaving the country, the report said. Their reasons included dissatisfaction with the government, the education system, a lack of confidence in the political ruling class and concern over the security situation.”

        http://wakeupfromyourslumber.com/node/1311

        “According to a study released by the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday 21,500 Israeli residents left the country in 2005 compared to 10,500 Israeli citizens who returned.

        The immigration rate in 2005 stood at 1.6 immigrants for every 1,000 Israelis, the lowest rate since 1983. According to the statistics, 55% of the new expatriates are single, 54% are male and 46% are female.

        Fifty-eight percent of those who left the country were born abroad, a staggering majority of whom – 78% – came to Israel from the former Soviet Union.

        The Bureau noted the significant number of returning Israelis in 2005, 55% of which are Israeli-born compared to 45% who were born abroad.

        The figures indicate a general negative balance of immigration from Israel during the 1990-2005 period. During those years some 370,000 residents left Israel compared to 141,000 who returned after a lengthy stay abroad.”

        http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3437812,00.html

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  12. //I’m getting confused now. If in both situations people are forced to change their names in order for the majority to view them better, then where is the difference?

    FSU – case 1 – Jews Russionized their names, but
    “As the punchline of a sad Jewish joke goes, They [anti-Semites] hit you on your face, not on your passport.”
    A Jew remains a Jew, no matter the name.

    Israel – case 2 – Jews come to a Jewish country, which was founded but recently, much more recently than US, creating an Israeli Jewish culture. Most people or at most their grandparents were immigrants themselves.
    (what I think people think) “Why do you have this 100% Christian name? Aren’t you a Jew? Don’t you feel connection to your Jewish roots & Israel as a Jewish country?”

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    1. Sorry, not seeing the difference. The USSR was also a new country and it also strove for a more united similar identity. My Ukrainian grandparents Russianized their last name, too. So the last name I have hasn’t been in the family on any side. For the Ukrainian relatives, it worked because they didn’t look visibly different like the Jewish relatives. 😦

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      1. //The USSR was also a new country and it also strove for a more united similar identity.

        The idea of Israel is not returning to your Jewish identity, but supposedly continuing living it, but in your own country for a change and starting developing new cultural aspects too, as Jews arrive from all over the world for the 1st time since 2000 years ago. And everybody is a Jew, so no antisemitism. Also, practically everybody(‘s relatives) remember/s being an immigrant.

        USSR, as you said yourself previously, was mainly Russian people’s identity (after WW2) in countries with rich anti-semitic tradition, which doesn’t disappear overnight (or ever, imo) because of official propaganda.

        USSR pretended nationality wasn’t important, while people did find it important. You said there was no anti-semitism, but I am now studying how many Ukrainians f.e. enthusiastically helped Nazis in killing Jews right at war’s beginning and about anti-semitism suffered by some evacuated Jews, so USSR obviously didn’t destroy anti-semitism.

        Israel is about being a Jew (for Jewish population) in a Jewish country (means diff. things to diff. people, but there are similarities, a place of meeting), which most of Jewish population (there’re always a few exceptions, probably) finds extremely important. Yes, from which country there are diff. Jewish family names, to which CC referred (as I understod). But all are Jews, not looking like Russians with Christian names!

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        1. “USSR pretended nationality wasn’t important, while people did find it important. You said there was no anti-semitism, but I am now studying how many Ukrainians f.e. enthusiastically helped Nazis in killing Jews right at war’s beginning”

          – Why don’t you read about the many many many more Ukrainians who died saving and protecting Jews and liberating the concentration camps?? My Ukrainian grandfather was one of those soldiers.

          “USSR, as you said yourself previously, was mainly Russian people’s identity (after WW2) in countries with rich anti-semitic tradition, which doesn’t disappear overnight (or ever, imo) because of official propaganda.

          USSR pretended nationality wasn’t important, while people did find it important. You said there was no anti-semitism, but I am now studying how many Ukrainians f.e. enthusiastically helped Nazis in killing Jews right at war’s beginning and about anti-semitism suffered by some evacuated Jews, so USSR obviously didn’t destroy anti-semitism.”

          – These are cosmetic differences. The core of the issue is the same: in the USSR and in Israel (according to you) people had to change their names to feel like they belong. I think that that cannot be a good thing. Changing huge aspects of your identity to belong anywhere means that something is deeply wrong. How would you feel if I said I had to pretend that I was male because that was the only way for me to belong to the mostly male faculty of my university? Isn’t that hugely different from when a transgender person transitions because that feels right to them?

          “But all are Jews, not looking like Russians with Christian names”

          – “We are all Soviet people, so why do you need that weird Jewish name?”

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      2. OK, I want now to look only at a practical side and hope we’ll agree on those 2 facts:

        1) In USSR there was anti-semitism both on country and private level. For a Jew changing a name didn’t help neither to him nor to his Jewish looking kids.
        Ideology: You aren’t a Jew, but a Soviet person now.

        2) In Israel Jewish people with changed names – definitely their kids! – can rise to any level in society without suffering anti-semitism. Nobody will tell Netanyahu that he isn’t a real Jew because “his father was born in Poland/Russia as Mileikowsky”.

        Ideology: We are all Jews and treasure our Jewish heritages.

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        1. I don’t think that the difference between “We had to change our name but it didn’t work” and “We had to change our name and it did work” is a crucial one.

          “We are all Jews and treasure our Jewish heritages”

          – Apparently, you are not Jew enough if your name is Ivan. That is something that just slaughters me. Obviously, I have a lot of painful family history here, which is why I can’t accept this as normal, no matter what consequences such an act brings.

          “Nobody will tell Netanyahu that he isn’t a real Jew because “his father was born in Poland/Russia as Mileikowsky”

          – What if he remained Mileikowsky? Would he be treated any differently?

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  13. //Many people are emigrating out of Israel. In fact emigration has outpaced immigration since 2007.

    You’re ignoring a HUGE immigration to Israel from the Former Soviet Union in the 90-ies:
    http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Immigration/FSU.html

    What is 6,643 (Immigrants from F.S.U. to Israel) in 2007 compared to 54,621 in 1997 or 185,227 in 1991?

    Most those immigrants of 90-ies stayed and give birth to children, so those few thousands that leave become a smaller % of entire Jewish population. I don’t say emigration doesn’t exist, but it should be put in proportion to a huge number of people that just recently came and stayed.

    //Mostly family names.

    We talked of diff. phenomena then. I – of Christian 1st names, you of Jewish but on “new Israeli” family names. Completely diff. things.

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    1. “You’re ignoring a HUGE immigration to Israel from the Former Soviet Union in the 90-ies:”

      – According to the statistics I just posted, most of them leave. After what you shared today about names, I’m not surprised. If it were ever suggested to me that my name is not OK at any level, I’d head for the nearest Immigration Bureau immediately. And I DON’T EVEN LIKE MY NAME.

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      1. // If it were ever suggested to me that my name is not OK at any level, I’d head for the nearest Immigration Bureau immediately.

        Lets not pretend than in Ukraine now f.e. it is as good to have a Jewish name as a Russian one. Or that in US a WASP name is no better than a traditionally Black one. Not long ago I watched a TV segment on a young, educated black man in one of Europian countries, who had difficulty finding a job because of skin color. There is NO paradise on earth where every name is equally OK.

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    2. “//Mostly family names.

      We talked of diff. phenomena then. I – of Christian 1st names, you of Jewish but on “new Israeli” family names. Completely diff. things.”

      – I don’t see a huge difference, to be honest. A name is a name. My Jewish and Ukrainian relatives in the USSR changed BOTH last and first names to fit in.

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      1. I am talking about the difference between traditionally Jewish [in some country of the world] vs traditionally Christian, not 1st vs last names (which just happened in our examples with CC).

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        1. “I am talking about the difference between traditionally Jewish [in some country of the world] vs traditionally Christian, not 1st vs last names (which just happened in our examples with CC).”

          – The name “Maria” is traditional in the Jewish part of my family. Who’s to say what’s traditionally what any longer? And, most importantly, why should anybody make such observations about other people’s names?

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    3. You’re ignoring a HUGE immigration to Israel from the Former Soviet Union in the 90-ies:

      No, I’m not. There are still over 200,000 jews in Russia. How come they no longer emigrate to Israel? In fact today a migrating Russian jew is more likely to move to Germany than to Israel.

      What is 6,643 (Immigrants from F.S.U. to Israel) in 2007 compared to 54,621 in 1997 or 185,227 in 1991?

      You are right, 6,643 is nothing compared to the estimated one million Israelis living abroad.

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  14. I want to share something nice in this thread – a short story I studied at high school, one of the few school lit. pieces I loved, about The Name. You see the conflict, mentioned by CC, between giving a new Israeli name or an old name of Europe.

    Click to access Are_You_Listening_Anthology.pdf

    p.43 Aharon Megged “The Name”
    If you read, would love to hear your pov.

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  15. //Apparently, you are not Jew enough if your name is Ivan. That is something that just slaughters me.

    Obviously most people think that taking the name Ivan is a sign of Jewish assimilation, with their (grand)kids not being Jews any longer at all. Taking yourself out of Jewish people’s gene pool. And in 99% they’re right, as I’ve seen myself.

    // What if he remained Mileikowsky? Would he be treated any differently?

    If it would’ve been eq. to “Maria” than yes imo. But it seems more Jewish than “Maria”, so don’t know.

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    1. “Taking yourself out of Jewish people’s gene pool. And in 99% they’re right”

      – You really think that a name has any influence on your genes?? You will get a Nobel Prize if you can prove that. 🙂 🙂

      Did I share this story about a friend who announced TO ME that the greatest problem of Jews in the world is assimilation?

      “What if he remained Mileikowsky? Would he be treated any differently?

      If it would’ve been eq. to “Maria” than yes imo”

      – Horrible. Now the Jews have started measuring noses, eh?

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      1. //You really think that a name has any influence on your genes?? You will get a Nobel Prize if you can prove that.

        You do understand what I mean, I am 100% sure. The name doesn’t, but whom one marries does.

        Example: A Jewish woman marries a Russian man in FSU. They have 2 boys, 1/2 Jewish, but with Russian (family) names, all. Still considered Jews in Jewish law. Then those boys marry Russian women, then their kids (not Jews in Jewish law) do the same. Their kids’ kids probably don’t know of any Jewish roots, anyway they identify as Russians and Jews disappear as a separate people.

        Disappeared like Jews in China:
        Of those communities, only Kaifeng Jewry flourished sufficiently to survive for a millennium, preserving some traces of their Jewishness until their synagogue was destroyed by an earthquake in the 1840s and the last of them assimilated. The only remnants of the community today are a knowledge of the site of the synagogue, upon which another building now stands; a stele from the Middle Ages with inscriptions of major events in the history of the community carved into it, but no longer legible; and a practice, still preserved by some, of avoiding the eating of pork. The surviving records and artifacts of the community have long since been transferred to Britain or the United States. I myself have seen one of the community’s two surviving Torah scrolls in the Hebrew Union College library in Cincinnati. There are substantial records of the community’s existence, compiled or written by Europeans, since the Kaifeng Jews were discovered by the Jesuits in the sixteenth century.

        http://www.jcpa.org/dje/articles2/china.htm

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        1. ” A Jewish woman marries a Russian man in FSU. They have 2 boys, 1/2 Jewish, but with Russian (family) names, all. Still considered Jews in Jewish law. Then those boys marry Russian women, then their kids (not Jews in Jewish law) do the same. Their kids’ kids probably don’t know of any Jewish roots, anyway they identify as Russians and Jews disappear as a separate peopl”

          – It sounds like you are somehow saying that these are bad choices or something. I hope that this is not what you are trying to say. My father married a Ukrainian woman. His daughters married a Peruvian man and a Russian man. The marriages were based on love and are very happy. Is there something wrong about them? I hope nobody is suggesting that we should have rejected the people we loved and chosen partners based not on love but on some weird criterion like ethnicity.

          This, of course, has nothing to do with names per se.

          “anyway they identify as Russians”

          – They should identify however they see fit. If they enjoy identifying as Japanese or Alpha Centaurians, good for them. Anybody who stands there and counts those other people’s genes has a huge issue.

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  16. //The name “Maria” is traditional in the Jewish part of my family. Who’s to say what’s traditionally what any longer?

    In FSU you hear the names Yakov & Sarah, is your guess those people are Russian?

    //And, most importantly, why should anybody make such observations about other people’s names?

    Because nationality/group/tribe is what most people care about and you yourself talked of The Other as being necessary for that?

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    1. “In FSU you hear the names Yakov & Sarah, is your guess those people are Russian”

      – Actually, I had a Ukrainian friend who named her daughter Sara because she heard the name in a soap opera and liked it. And there have been tons of Russian and Ukrainian Yakovs in history, including a Hetman. 🙂 http://www.kakzovut.ru/names/yakov.html
      Making such guesses is a total waste of time. It’s as useful as trying to “guess” who’s gay on the basis of how they dress and what their hobbies are.

      “Because nationality/group/tribe is what most people care about and you yourself talked of The Other as being necessary for that”

      – So, if “most people” are xenophobes, it’s OK to be a xenophobe?

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    2. About the only Yakov name that rings a bell with me is comedian Yakov Smirnov. He was immensely popular during my college years, which is to say the Reagan years, when a Soviet emigré/defector was apparently a very “in” thing to be. Checking Wikipedia it turns out that he is (per Wikipedia) a Ukrainian-born person of Jewish descent, whose family name at birth was “Pokhis” and whose patronymic is a very Jewish-sounding “Naumovich.” Looks like he’s still touring. Let’s seee, nope, not touring. Instead, a fixture at a place called Yakov Smirnoff Theatre in Branson, Missouri. Also looks like he bills himself as a “famous Russian comedian.”

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  17. // It sounds like you are somehow saying that these are bad choices or something.

    I am not judging, but only describing a reality. Why most people won’t see “Ivan” as a Jew.

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    1. “I am not judging, but only describing a reality. Why most people won’t see “Ivan” as a Jew.”

      – They see him as less of a Jew now because of something he might do in some distant future and then what his yet non-existent children might do? Makes a lot of sense.

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  18. I find it very useful having two sides, because one side can go on adventures and have experiences on the boundaries of life, and the other side can take notes and reflect on whether these were positive or negative.
    As a side note, I found this capacity to reflect on my own actions and experiences seems to disturb some people. I’d always thought everybody could do this, but apparently it makes them think that I’m criticizing something that was out of control, or what have you. This is as far from being the case as it is possible to imagine. I reflect on all things that I do and experience, but this doesn’t mean that at any point something was out of control.

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  19. Everyone takes me for South American here (when not Creole or something) but in S.A. they know I’m from Yankeeland because I so obviously do not have the Catholic psychology and I tend to think one has things like constitutional and consumer rights even when I know one does not.

    But, in terms of sides to personality, I don’t think one can *scientifically* say one has sides that correspond to nationalities — essentialism you know — even though one can point to cultural influences and so on.

    I do, however, believe in astrology and I say, don’t doubt it until you study it, the thing is complex. You’ve got 10 planets in your chart, each of which can be in any of 12 houses, and then depending on the time of day you were born, any one of those 12 can be the first (although the house associated with Aries is another kind of first, no matter where it falls – this is a double round). Then, there are the geometrical relationships of the planets to each other, on a 360 degree sphere.

    So people born today have the Sun – their basic nature and life path – in Aries, such that their project in life is to grow as an Aries, with those characteristics … yet that planet will fall in a house that represents a particular area of life, and then there will be 9 other planets in other signs and houses that correspond to other energies, to be played out in other areas of life.

    So everyone is very multifaceted, and the astrological chart helps you to define more clearly what those facets are and how they interact with each other.

    *
    LENGTH WARNING – I AM NOW MEDITATING ON SOMETHING AND USING SPACE HERE FOR IT

    I, for instance, have the Sun (character and path), Moon (emotional nature or soul), and Mars (ego, activity, sexual and other hot energy) at right angles with each other, all separated by 90 degrees; this means they are in constant tension with each other.

    Example of that: Sun says slow and steady wins the race, keeps on trucking, is achievement oriented, moves along steadily and keeps the real goal in mind. At same time Moon wants everyone to get along, and is interested in balance, calm, fairness and beauty; will easily tell Sun to just enjoy, bask, and socialize. Simultaneously Mars wants to assert itself and start a bunch of projects right now, pour tons of energy into them, and lead them.

    Writing just that out – and I have barely started to discuss my chart – I see that in the times I have been happiest in life, I have had things arranged such that each of these “planets” had room to express itself, each had a sphere of life in which it could dominate. Sun: just working along at work (I should think about what it means that it’s in the 8th house). Moon: getting along, and having very beautiful and relaxing leisure; also working for justice. Aries: sometimes leadership in specific projects at work but best in some kind of organizing project, social or political, in another sphere.

    I see that I should probably find a good astrologer and see them regularly. 😉

    From another thread: that Sun and that Mars are so achievement oriented, and they are also kind of a volatile combination, although if harnessed right can propel one far. I think that on the topic of really becoming who one is, reliably becoming the person one is when happiest, my fear is the daunting task of managing these energies.

    The way one would use a chart like mine to get de-scared from this task, is to focus also on the harmonious angles one has between planets. As I remember, I have two interlocking equilateral triangles that the planets make, like a Star of David and it would be by concentrating on the easy flow of energy among those planets that I would find stability and rest.

    I am making this argument for people to see astrologers and I see once again that it means I should see one. (It’s sort of a Jungian exercise, looking at a mandala, meditating on the symbols.)

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  20. P.S. This inspired me to sketch out my chart and look at it and I am convinced – we all need them. You can see in them which of your strengths or points of ease you may want to use at a given time.

    If you want to play parlor games with astrology you can go to a free site like Astrodienst and enter your birth data. It will give you the numbers but you really need this to be on a wheel, so you can look at the geometry of it. Don’t trust any boilerplate written about its meaning. The planets are energies; the signs style of use of that energy; the houses, areas of life in which these energies do their work; relationships between planets show how they work together and/or against each other. If you have a lot of planets close together, there is a lot of activity (or interest, or issues) in that or those areas of life.

    End of astrology rant and thanks to the person way up thread who brought it up, I’m glad to be reminded of it.

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  21. Found smth interesting on emigration too (the whole article is worth reading imo, even if you disagree with 1 or other term):
    http://rubinreports.blogspot.com/2012/03/france-here-comes-whitewash.html

    The murders in Toulouse should be a wake-up call for France and all of Europe.

    I have listened in France to discussions among Jews over what parts of their cities were still safe to live in and which were too dangerous. The key factor is whether you are wealthy enough to move away from the threats. I’ve heard Jewish parents discussing their kids’ traumatic experiences in the public schools.

    French Jews are either leaving France or at least buying homes in Israel. Aside from reports in mostly Jewish media, I know about this because I hear more French being spoken in Tel Aviv streets. My real estate agent friend has a growing number of French clients, some of whom leave their families in Israel and commute to work in France. These people know what’s actually going on in France and other countries.

    Der Speigel interviews, Daniel Ben-Simon, an expert who explains there are, “hundreds of anti-Semitic incidents” a year, committed mainly by Arab immigrants. Indeed, the teacher and his two children murdered in Toulouse were French Jews who had emigrated to Israel until he had been persuaded to return to France to work in the school.

    Hiding the truth only ensures that the problem grows and the tragedies are repeated. And unfortunately that is precisely what’s happening.

    Clarissa, you wrote once about problems of immigrants to France f.e., do you have any suggestions for improvement? Would love to read a post about that.

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    1. French are anti-semitic (including Arabs, they’re semites too) and xenophobic and chauvinistic. Plenty of individual exceptions but this is more or less the semi-overt national policy. Better off in Portugal/Spain I strongly suspect.

      Actually I’d say France and not US is the one who uses secularism / separation church-state to suppress religious expression and not being part of the dominant religion.

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      1. Are there really that many practicing Christians in France? I’ve never been, so I have no idea. But even in Spain, it’s a non-issue for people born since 1960. Churches are empty in Spain.

        If, in terms of religion, France is going in the same direction of church / state erosion and political dominance of religious fanatics as the US then that is extremely sad.

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  22. No you do not have to be practicingly religious to be in a religious culture or against one. Remember Judaism etc. is a culture not just a religion.

    I am of course not being scientific but I’ve lived and worked in France, I have worked in French Louisiana for 20 years, and I work in French departments and RL departments with lots of French, do a lot of social life in French and so on, so I’m commenting from my general experience the way I do about US, but I’m not an actual expert on these matters.

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