Monday, December 19, 2011

What's in a Name? Confusion, if the Name is Chaya Mushka


If you walk into a class of 120 students in a school for girls in Crown Heights and call out the name Chaya Mushka, it's likely that 75 girls will respond. The Brooklyn neighborhood is filled with hundreds of Chaya Mushkas. 

The Jewish Daily Forward features an article this week on the growing number of Chassidic girls who share the same name, Chaya Mushka, as an honor to the memory of the late wife of Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe. 

When the Rebbetzin, as she was known, died in 1988, hundreds of Lubavitch parents named their daughters Chaya Mushka. 

Writing in the Forward, Paul Berger reports:
The rebbetzin, in an undated photo.
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.
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.
In the following video, the Forward interviewed these two Chaya Mushkas, as well as the principal of a girls' school in Crown Heights.  Enjoy!

(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS:  THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS.  YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)



When we first heard that the Forward was doing an article and video about the large number of children answering to the exact same name, we couldn't help but think of one of our favorite Dr. Seuss stories, Too Many Daves. It begins "Did I ever tell you that Mrs. McCave had 23 sons and she named them all Dave?" An animated version of the very short story follows. We hope you'll enjoy this one, too.