Upon arriving at Ben Gurion Airport, I was greeted by a host with a large sign for olim (new immigrants), all of whom were younger than me. I expected hoorays but most people were just absorbed in their phones and pretty non-chalant about the whole situation. We were taken to an office where we started to fill out paperwork to get an Israeli ID card and a special ID for new immigrants. That’s when I had my first dilemma:
What’s your last name? Newman, I answered.
Ok, what is it? Noiman? No, Newman. How do you spell that?
Ummm, I don’t know.
(conversation between people). Ok, so it’s nun-yud-vav.
OK. And that is how you spell Newman in Hebrew?
Yes but you could (or should?) be Noiman which is Nun-vav-yud.
Yes, but I’m NEWman. OK, so you can spell it different ways-what do you prefer?
Then the three people filling out my paperwork had a conversation–how should I spell my name and what is my name here? Eventually they said, you decide. Well, I have no idea how to properly spell my last name, but it’s NEWMAN in English. Somehow, it was finally written as Nun-vav, the most “New” seeming phoentic way to me on my new immigrant ID.
I moved to a new desk and was ready to sign the ID when the person at the desk said, you really are Noiman here, nun-vav-yud, not Newman. Ok, but I already had the new immigrant card as “Newman.” OK, well it’s your choice. And it doesn’t really matter because we will spell it properly in Hebrew on your Israeli ID card, Nun-yud-vav. People will pronounce as Newman but you need the yud as the second letter.
And when people read my name in Israel, what do they say? NOIMAN!