CARR 53-54


Contemporary American Reform Responsa

32. The Changing of a Jewish


QUESTION: A woman with two children has been divorced. She

has now married another man. Her first husband takes no interest in her children, nor does he

support them. The second husband has already formally adopted the children. Their last name

has been changed to the new family name. Can the Jewish name also be changed to reflect the

role of their new adoptive father? (Rabbi J. Salkin, Doylestown, PA) ANSWER: This

kind of a question arose frequently in the past when orphaned children were raised in a new

household . They were considered legally part of the household (Isserles to Shulhan

Arukh Hoshen Mishpat 42.15). Appropriate changes in legal documents, of course, had to be

made in order for them to inherit from their new household. They had the right to say

qaddish for their adoptive parents as well as their natural parents. The name of their

adoptive father could be used in all documents (Isserles to Shulhan Arukh Even Haezer

129), although it is equally appropriate to use the name of the natural father. Occasionally a

question has been raised about using the name of the adoptive father in a get; bediavad

this was always accepted (Teshuvat Yehuda; Shulhan Arukh Even Haezer 129.9). Even

the strictest authority simply added the word “hamgadlo” to the adoptive father’s name

whenever an occasion demanded its use (Nahalat Shiva 12.15). It is, therefore, clear that

nothing would stand in the way of changing the name of the children to that of the adoptive

father.April 1984

If needed, please consult Abbreviations used in CCAR Responsa.