My name means a lot to me. My mom chose it for me. I love the Jewish name I chose too but my English name is so much a part of me. To my mom, I am and always will be the name she gave me.
A new doctor I saw recently noticed my Jewish star necklace and asked me if I were Jewish. We chatted about it for a bit. I told him I was a Jew by Choice. He asked me questions. I don't mind answering them. It seems to come naturally to me. He seemed to have a lot of respect for my choice.
New neighbors moved in across the hall and the woman asked me if I were Jewish and referenced my mezuzah. I said yes and she said so are we!!! Yaaay! She said she would like to do Shabbat some time. How wonderful!
Try looking my name up in Hebrew! I’ll just say that it’s a “bad word.” Fortunately I don't know that many Jews who are sufficiently conversant in the language. I chose Yona (dove) for my Hebrew name.
My surname is Ireland. It is an Irish name; both Catholics and Protestants have it.
I understand how hard it is to be part of a community often enough under siege. It is hard to extend a welcome to strangers, and so as I have said, problems can happen involving trust.
The Jewish community is not the only one leery of outsiders. The Irish community is as well, though some may not realize it. It is due to its history, even extending to folk memories of events happening in 1658, when Cromwell invaded Ireland. During the next year, about a third of the Irish starved to death, were murdered, or sold into slavery in the Caribbean. I have those memories, because my mother comes from an Irish Catholic background.
I feel compassion for those threatened in the presence of an outsider, but also hurt due to experiences years back with Jewish peers, and also with Irish American political groups.
The name for this kind of distrust is PTSD.
It is a rare event to meet someone who understands how to say, stand down soldier, at ease, I will never hurt you.
That's a gift. Sure, someone like that might seem to be bending over backwards to extend an undeserved olive branch to someone who has done grievous harm. For example the Irish Protestant actor Stephen Rea, married a woman who was once a member of the IRA, and was arrested for a failed bombing attempt. Fortunately, she and her sister were apprehended.
Pretty bad decision on Stephen Rea's part or, maybe to understand much is to forgive much, even when it does not look possible.
There is someone on the other side of your fear of strangers, however justified and they may not be out to get you. We all need to give that some thought.
My full Hebrew name is Sarah Hineni bat Avram Aveinu v'Sarah Imenu. When I am called up for an aliyah, I get questions about it. I tell them this story.
My parents were working in Germany on a contract when my mom became pregnant with me. This was in the 1950s, when there were plenty of ex-Nazis around; also, if I'd been born in Germany I might have been subject to German conscription laws. So my mom came back to the States to have me, and my dad stayed on to finish out his contract. When I was born, my grandfather sent a telegram to the hotel where my dad was living. Dad went downstairs to the bar and ordered a round for the house to celebrate. All the Germans were toasting him, when the bartender asked him, "What is your daughter's name?" My father proudly replied, "Her name is Sarah." The bartender gasped in astonishment and said, "But that is ein Judisher namen!" (That is a Jewish name!) The bartender and everyone else in the room was scandalized.
I like to say that that bartender was prescient. At the time, and for many decades afterwards, I was NOT a Jew. There are no Jews anywhere in my family tree (although there are plenty of Sarahs). So when it came time for me to choose a Hebrew name, I saw no point in discarding a perfectly good one, especially one which had so irritated a bunch of ex-Nazis. So I added "Hineni", "I am here", as my second name. Therefore I am "Sarah Hineni bat Avram Aveinu v'Sarah Imenu" in the Tribe.
It would be hard to get more WASPY sounding than my English name! But to be honest I have never had any questions re: my name not sounding Jewish. My conversion city of Indianapolis, IN was comprised of a large number of Interfaith and Converts. However, in FL where I now live many are native born Ashkenazi Jews from NYC. But never had any questions about my name as I mingle with others at Shul!
My Hebrew name is to honor my Father whose was name David and also, King David. Like King David I have fallen short on a great number of times. I just keep on keeping on!