My Name

At birth I was named William Andrew Strimling in honor of the memory of deceased relatives of my mother and father (as is tradition for Ashkenazi Jews). Simultaneously, I was given the Hebrew name שמעון זאב (albeit not ‘official’ in any way), which is also a combination of the Hebrew names of several of my ancestors.

For most of my life, I’ve found the last name "Strimling" uncomfortable, both functionally in terms of things like pronunciation and spelling, but also emotionally as it didn't speak much to my Jewish heritage and didn't feel like ‘me’ (for lack of words).

In high school, I experimented with changing it, but ultimately I struggled to find a name that had at least as much cultural and familial meaning as my given name, while still feeling agreeable to my identity.

Historically, as Jews in diaspora have immigrated to Israel—as I have at least partially now done—some have chosen to “hebraize” their name as a way of assimilating better. This especially resonated with me, as Israelis had often struggled with both my first and last names, which are not only uncommon but include letters and sounds not found in Hebrew.

I began to dig deeper into my Jewish naming, and found something that balanced my goals:

My Hebrew name, שמעון זאב, is phonetically read as Shimon Ze’ev. I considered using it directly, but not only was I teased that Shimon (שמעון) is an “old person name” in Israel, but I felt that I somehow wanted to maintain some aspect of my “Anglo” identity (in which I was born and raised).

I thought a nice middle ground was the anglicized version of my Hebrew name—Shimon is Simon, and Ze’ev means Wolf—Simon Wolf. However, as many people know me as William or more typically, Will, I didn’t want to fully detach from that. I’ve decided to keep William as my first name, and optionally use my new middle name, Simon/שמעון, when it might be less confusing.

So, rendered all together: William Simon Wolf