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How TZiPi Got Her Name

When TZiPi was born, she was given an English name, which she used for many years. She was also given a Yiddish name, after a paternal great aunt. Here is the story.

When she attended Hebrew school at age eight, she was asked her Hebrew name. She responded “Fagga Tuby,” the name her parents had told her to tell her teacher.  When the teacher heard the Yiddish words, he quickly responded in Hebrew, “Tziporah.”

Fagga Tuby means good bird, and Tziporah means bird. At the age of eight, the name was not a favorite of TZiPi’s. She was neither a birdbrain nor did she eat like a bird.

When she came back to Judasim as an older adult, within the community she was coming out within, she was asked her Hebrew name. When she responded Tziporah, her friend said, “Tzipi, that’s your name.”

TZiPi means little bird. And TZiPi liked that name and decided to try it out.

She began using it to sign her artwork. During a program at the Center for Creative Leadership, where the participants were asked to do a number of drawings, TZiPi and others were asked to create a gallery for everyone to see. She had signed her artwork ‘tzipi’. Because she was wearing a name tag with her English name, her colleagues asked, “Who is tzipi?” She replied, “me.”

At that point, she decided to be in integrity and make life simple and use the same name she signed her artwork with. During this time, she had begun studying Judaism and she learned that in the Torah there are only consonants, no vowels.  And being the creative person she is, and in honor of the consonants in her name, she capitalized them, TZiPi.

And she began using TZiPi as her name on her nametag. One of her clients commented that he liked the spelling and that she ought to use it as her brand. She liked that idea and kept it.

Frequently, people ask TZiPi how to pronounce her name. She tells them that the TZ is like a ts sound as in the word pants. And that she learned this pronunciation as a child and to her it is easy. So have fun with it.

She also tells people who ask that those who translated the bible into English changed Moses’s wife’s name from tziporah to ziporah. And that the tz is the Hebrew letter tzaddie and the z is the Hebrew letter zayin, and changing the letter changes the meaning of the word. There is no such word in Hebrew as ziporah. And since Tziporah was also the daughter of a Midian priest, Yitro, he would most likely bless his daughter with a name that reflects nature.

TZiPi is now her legal name, and Vivien, her English birth name, is her middle name, to honor her parent’s choice. She has kind-fun with people as they try to pronounce her first name. And she offers parts of what you read above in building a connection with those who are curious and interested.

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