Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What's In A Name?

i was named zelda after my mother's tante zelda. back in brooklyn i went by the name of ellen. for nine years i went to public school 238 in our old neighborhood in the midwood section of flatbush. and for nine years i was called ellen "G." because there were three ellens in my class. i always hated the name because it was so common. when i attended hebrew school classes in the late afternoon i was the only zelda for four years. i can still remember the first day of hebrew school quite vividly, even though it was more than fifty years ago. my mother proudly told me that i had a jewish name. she explained that i was given that name in the synagogue on the first sabbath after i was born. she even showed me the name card from the kiddush. i was naturally, excited and very proud to have a jewish name. i still remember the moment when morah rosenbaum asked me what my hebrew name was. i proudly answered, zelda, and was immediately told that it was not a biblical name. my mind could not quite grasp what that meant. i was then sent to the office to verify my name. someone in the office must have told me that it was, indeed , a biblical name and i was returned to the classroom. you can imagine my disappointment when some thirty years later, i discovered that the name zelda does not appear in the bible. back in the secular world, i continued to go by the name ellen until i came to zefat in 1984. in israel it is more meaningful to go by a jewish name. when i came to visit my sister she immediately called me tante zelda in front of her kids. and so i became zelda about 25 years ago. however; wherever i went and told people that i was named zelda, i got an immediate burst of laughter. it seems that a "zelda" in the israeli army was a 6 man tank. people kept telling me that it was an old fashioned name and that i should choose a more modern name like, Elana. growing up in america in the 1950's was no different. back then, there was a television show called "dobie gillis" and one of the leading female characters was called "zelda gilroy". she was the ultimate nerd and was not much in the looks department, either. it set the name back for years. years later, when i read about scott fitzgerald's wife zelda, i began to dislike the name a little less. i even found a poster in manhattan for an off-off broadway show called ,"i don't want to be zelda anymore"and i actually started to like the name a little more. in the past few years the name zelda has been immortalized in digital combat games. there is even a "zeldapedia " on the web that is more famous than my monolgue. and i just saw the trailer for the movie,"zelda twilight princess". all i can say is what's with her ears, anyway? and what's all the hype about "the legend of zelda", anyway. i have always been a legend in my mind as my faithful follower, danya, always says. when i got my gmail account there were already 4 zelda gleich's??? what's in a name anyway!


  1. your name is your essence. that being said-what happens when you are know by different names?

  2. Dear Zelda:
    I think I can add another namesake for you, who also has a blog, and has for many years--it is called the Wisdom of Zelda, so this kind of information sharing must be linked with that name. This Zelda also ahs a flair for the dramatic--I jsut went to her web site and found all manner of Halloween costumes for sale, acutally for dogs, as this Zelda herself is a prize English bull dog--but extremely funny and extremely wise and extremely commercial and successful for many years. May this too be your fate (excluding the Halloween costume store, of course).

    Chana Sosha

    PS You stole my eternal rant that my name is so common and that every first cousin we have has the same one (Anita, Annette, Anna), I gues that happens when you are the oldest and named for the same grandmother.