Mushky Duchman, born in August, 1988, in Brooklyn was among them. “The rebbe was our leader and when the rebbetzin passed away, it was the greatest thing to give back to the rebbe,” Duchman told the Forward.
The rebbetzin, in an undated photo.
During the 1990s in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, where the Lubavitch movement has its world headquarters, schools were flooded with Chaya Mushkas. Duchman said that at her Beth Rivkah school in Brooklyn, about 75 of the 120 girls in her grade were called Chaya Mushka.
To differentiate themselves, these Chaya Mushkas adopted various nicknames and alternative spellings: Chaya, Chayale, Moussia, Mushkee, Mushkie, Mushky or Mookie.
Rishe Deitsch, senior editor of a Chabad women’s newsletter, said distinguishing between Chaya Mushkas at school only became a problem when cousins shared the same surname. “Then you start going by the street [they live on],” Deitsch said, “like Chaya Mushka Crown or Chaya Mushka President.”
That was no solution for teachers and classmates of Chaya Mushka Avtzon and Chaya Mushka Avtzon, first cousins who lived three doors away from each other on Crown Street, in Brooklyn.
“We always requested to be in the same class and everyone got us mixed up,” said one of the 22-year-old Avtzons who recently married and officially became Mushky Edelman.
Even today, now that one of the Avtzons has given up her maiden name, the two women still receive each other’s phone calls and text messages, or those meant for their 21-year-old cousin, Chaya Mushka Avtzon, who also lives in Crown Heights.