In the week when we read of the beginning of our enslavement in Egypt, we present a letter about the importance of a Jewish name. One of the merits the Jews had, making them worthy of being delivered from golus Mitzrayim, was that they did not change their Hebrew name. Not only did they preserve their Jewish identity, but they also proclaimed it proudly. The letter, written originally in English, is from the archives of the Rebbe’s trusted secretary Rabbi Nissan Mindel.
By the Grace of G-d
2nd of Shevat, 5740
London E.5 9LT, England
Greeting and Blessing:
This is in reply to your letter in which you write that you would like to change your surname to Davidson.
As you surely know, from the viewpoint of the Shulchan Aruch, there is a special significance to the given Hebrew name, but not to the surname, which could therefore be changed if desired. Especially in your case where you wish to change it in a way that would emphasize the Jewish aspect of it. Therefore, it is quite in order and may it be in a happy and auspicious hour.
The above has a special relevance to the Sidras which we have been reading lately, dealing with the golus and Yetzias Mitzrayim. For, as you surely know, our Sages declare that one of the merits of the Jewish people to make them worthy of the deliverance form Egypt was the fact that they did not change their Hebrew names, since thereby they not only preserved their Jewish identity, but also proclaimed it proudly.
There is no need to add that the essential thing is the everyday life and conduct in accordance with the Shulchan Aruch and I trust that your personal names, as well as your adopted surname, will always remind you of your obligations as well as privileges of being a Jew, a true son of our forefathers Avrohom, Yitzchok and Yaakov.