Immigrants in Israel asked for name change

March 3, 2008 at 10:21 AM

JERUSALEM, March 3 (UPI) -- Despite official bans on the practice, Israeli education officials say many teachers are asking Ethiopian immigrants to change their names to Jewish names.

Many Ethiopian students say their teachers are persuading them to change their first names from things like Habtam, which means "wealth," to Hannah and another student from Natab to Sarah.

Ethiopian heritage places great significance on first names and members of the community say they see the practice as an effort to detach them from their heritage, Ynetnews reported Monday.

Education officials in Israel said the wishes of the parents should be honored and stressed immigrant students shouldn't be asked to change their names.

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