From the very moment
of this blog’s inception when Our Shiputzim transitioned into a full-blown slice-of-life blog, the editorial board declared that one of its primary objectives would be assisting and providing useful information for new olim.
Thus, the entire writing staff has made every effort to introduce and explain many of the quirks, foibles, and idiosyncrasies of Israeli life.
But, unfortunately, there’s at least one issue where you’re on your own.
Because, 11½ years after our aliyah, I’ve yet to figure out which is the most acceptable way to record a list of names.
You see, here in Israel, all of the following forms are used interchangeably and with equal frequency:
- <Lastname>, <Firstname> (i.e., with a comma)
- <Lastname> <Firstname> (i.e., without a comma)
- <Firstname> <Lastname>
In fact, sometimes, more than one form is used on the very. same. list.
Also, many Israelis have last names like Avraham, Yaakov, and Aharon, and many Israeli first names could easily pass as last names. (This guy famously represents one of the most egregious examples of this phenomenon.)
And to add to the confusion, many Israeli men rarely use their first names at all. (“Hi, my name is Cohen.”) Everyone – often including their own wives! – calls them by their last names.
So what should you do when you’re confronted by an ambiguous name, and you’re not sure which part is the person’s first name?
Well, when in doubt and when all else fails, I suggest that you go with the tried and true.
You know, something helpful like, “Hey, you…”