Now Reading
Irish Name, Jewish Person
Behar, and the Source of all Sustenance
Conflicted Convert
Emor, and Choosing Circumstances
Shlemazel in Love
Metzora, and the Purification Process
Eshet Chayi-less

Irish Name, Jewish Person

Come on, that’s not your real name!”

You must be Irish with a name like that!”

When Irish eyes are smilin’….

Bring it on, people, I’ve heard ‘em all.

My name is Tara Dublin, and yes, that is my real name. It’s on my birth certificate, driver’s license, and Social Security card. I didn’t have it changed from Lishka Rabinowitz or anything like that. It’s the name my parents gave me. When people hear my name, they immediately begin speaking to me in an Irish accent. That’s become something I’m so used to, I feel like I should be carrying my own little pot of gold by now. Tara is the throne of the ancient Irish kings, you see. And well, we all know that Dublin is the capital of Ireland (although telemarketers can’t seem to grasp this; they often call and ask for “Mr. or Mrs. Doo-blin.” And, come on, really?). I had fun going through customs at Shannon Airport with that name stamped in my passport; it got laughs from everyone in the country who saw it, plus offers of free drinks (alas, I was pregnant with my second son at the time).The thing is, I feel bad for the people when I have to tell them the truth about myself, because I know I’ll be disappointing them. And you don’t want to disappoint a pub full of drunken revelers in Killarney, let me tell you.

I’m not Irish at all, you see. Not in the least. My family tree has no branches—nor even a leaf—that touch the Emerald Isle. There might have been a great-great-grandmother who grew up in England, but her parents had brought her there straight from the shtetl, to escape the pogroms.

Oh, didn’t I tell you? I’m not only not Irish, I’m Jewish. Yes, for reals.

It takes a while for people to grasp this fact. How can it be, with a name like mine?

Here’s my theory, because my father’s family never checked into their heritage: there’s a town in Poland called Lublin. We do know that some of his family came from Poland, so the thinking is that someone in the bloodline got Corleone’d at Ellis Island and got the surname of Lublin, but the L looked too much like a D, and the name became Dublin.

Or something.

My mother’s side of the family has been thoroughly traced by my Aunt Deena, and the Worgaftiks go back to Russia, some connected to royalty, all Jewish. So I am a legit Jewish American (Princess is debatable). I know there are Daublins somewhere in Florida, employing the use of the ‘a’ to sound less Irish and more Jewish (not that it was great to be either in early 1900’s New York).

So here I am, Tara Dublin, daughter of Michael and Bonnie, Bat Mitzvahed at Temple Shalom in Matawan, New Jersey, in 1982. Every new teacher would joke about my name. I could never find a personalized license plate or mug at Spencer’s in the mall. No one ever heard my name correctly over the phone: “Kara? Karen? Carol?” For years I wished I was like every other Stacey, Jennifer, and Kristin.

The name thing got a little more interesting when my family moved from New Jersey to suburban Atlanta in the late 80s. Not only did I sound like an extra from “My Cousin Vinny” to everyone’s ears, my first name is taken from the Southern Bible (also known as “Gone with the Wind”). I quickly learned to use my name to my advantage for the first time while waiting tables at a Ruby Tuesday in the Lenox Square Mall:

Me: “Hi, my name is Tara, and I’ll be your server today—“

Customer (usually an older lady in a sweater set. In Atlanta. In July. Who only ever orders salad): “Tara, like in ‘Gone with the Wind’?!”

Me (suddenly speaking in a Southern accent): “Whah, YAY-US! It’s my momma’s FAYVRITE movie? And do you know whut? My momma’s name is Bonnie, just like Scarlett’s little baby who DAHED, didn’t you just CRAH when that happened?”

My tip would go up at least two bucks after that.

The University of Georgia Drama Department was a den of sin when I transferred there in 1989, with students and faculty alike behaving somewhat like the cast of “Rome” well before its time. People smiled at each other in the hallways while stealing their partners at parties. Into this waltzes Loudmouth Jewish Girl from New Jersey, naïve to the ways of getting by in the South and how to navigate its odd traditions. In other words, I was neither genteel nor overtly slutty. My religion, however, was known to all soon after my arrival. A grad student kicked the Coke machine and announced loudly: “This machine just Jewed me out of a quarter!”

“Hey!” I yelled. “What the fuck did you just say?”

She turned to me, oblivious, and repeated it word for word.

“I can’t believe you actually said that,” I fumed. “I’M Jewish!”

“You are NOT!” she barked at me. “Your name is DUBLIN.”

“So?” I said. “I am Jewish. I had a Bat Mitzvah and everything.”

“You don’t even look Jewish,” she sneered.

“Yeah, I had my horns shaved off before I crossed the Mason-Dixon line,” I retorted.

By now, a small group of our fellow drama majors had quietly begun to form. The grad student had 3 years and 40 pounds on me. I wasn’t about to back down, however. I had to represent for my peeps.

Hands on my hips, I demanded an apology. “If I’m the first Jewish person you’ve ever met”—turns out, I was—“then I’ll be happy to educate you on all the shit you have wrong. Or you can be ignorant, your choice.”

We didn’t become besties or anything that would make this story adaptable for Lifetime TV, but she did apologize. I explained to her how I came to be called Tara Dublin, which made her laugh. She once lamented, during an acting class, that her Christmas Eve birthday led to a lot of “birthday slash Christmas gifts”. “My birthday is at the end of April,” I told her, “so I never have to worry about birthday slash Passover presents.”

“Tara,” she sighed in reply, “it must be so cool to be so…ethnic.

Nu?

I love my name now, although it still causes people some confusion. On Twitter, where I’m “taradublinrocks”, I’m often followed by young men in Ireland who mistake me for being a club DJ. I lose at least 5 followers per day thanks to this, though they’re welcome to keep riding the crazy train that is my Twitter feed. Out here in Portland, where I’ve been living for nearly a decade, my East Coast pronunciation throws the locals a tad. “Is it Tare-a or Tah-ra?” they ask (“Actually, it’s Ta-RAH!” is what I want to reply). We do have Jews out here, despite what you may think, though I’m not joining a temple sisterhood anytime soon (that’s a topic for another blog). Trolling out the “My family got Corleone’d at Ellis Island” line brings more laughs in Portland than it ever did when I lived in Albany, Georgia.

My name might not give away my true heritage, while it does align me with one that I have no biological connection to. It’s almost like having dual citizenship! The Irish treat me like a Daughter of Erin, while my fellow M.O.T.’s are quick to recognize when they find out that I do, in fact, belong with them. On March 17th, I proudly wear a “Not Irish—Kiss Me Anyway!” shirt, and light all the candles on Chanukah. Hopefully, it’s a name that will keep resonating with people, so that I land a book deal and get to charm the talk show hosts on the promo circuit.

I have this really funny anecdote about my name, you see…

View Comments (17)
  • My coder is trying to persuade me to move to .net from PHP.
    I have always disliked the idea because of the costs. But he’s tryiong none the less.
    I’ve been using Movable-type on numerous websites for about a year and am nervous about switching to another platform.
    I have heard very good things about blogengine.net. Is there a way I can import all my wordpress content
    into it? Any kind of help would be greatly appreciated!

  • Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is an extremely smartly written article.

    I’ll make sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful information. Thank you for the post.

    I’ll definitely comeback.

  • I am curious to find out what blog system you have been using?
    I’m having some small security issues with my latest blog and I’d like to find something
    more secure. Do you have any solutions?

  • Right here is the right blog for anybody who really wants to understand this topic.
    You know a whole lot its almost hard to argue with you (not that I really will
    need to…HaHa). You certainly put a fresh spin on a subject
    that has been written about for ages. Excellent stuff, just excellent!

  • This design is spectacular! You definitely know how to keep a reader
    entertained. Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved
    to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Great job.
    I really enjoyed what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it.
    Too cool!

  • I just could not leave your website prior to suggesting that I actually loved the usual info an individual supply on your visitors?
    Is gonna be back often in order to check out new posts

  • I have been surfing on-line more than three hours today, yet I by no means found any fascinating article like yours.
    It is lovely price enough for me. Personally, if all site owners and bloggers
    made excellent content material as you did,
    the net will be much more helpful than ever before.

  • Hi there every one, here every person is sharing these kinds
    of know-how, thus it’s pleasant to read this webpage, and I used to go to see
    this web site everyday.

  • I am very pleased to see that you are putting so much of effort for encouraging the visitors with valueable posts like this, I have sent this post to my myspaceaccount profile.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll To Top