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I'm a gentile and my name is Christian. Would I face more aversion if I wanted to covert to Judaism than someone whose name is, say, Abraham? Would I be encouraged to legally change my name? Also, there is no real significance to the name, my parents are not religious - my mom just liked the way it sounds.

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Technically, as conversion makes you a "new person" without parents, you would likely change your name altogether. –  avi Dec 4 '13 at 17:15
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up vote 7 down vote accepted

In terms of rabbis being willing to work with you, I don't think that would be a factor. I've talked with a lot of converts and conversion candidates, including one named Christina, and none of them reported any inquiry or hesitation based on factors beyond their control like what their parents named them.

You will probably get some odd looks from other Jews and some may even say to you that that's not a Jewish name. You'll need to decide how to handle that; one response could be "maybe not usually". Christina told me she got fewer odd looks when she said her name was "Kris", for what that's worth. Or you could go by your middle name if that works better for you and you're uncomfortable with "Chris" or "Christian".

When you become Jewish you will be given (or will choose) a Hebrew name. This is the name that will be used for all ritual purposes, such as if you are called to the torah for an aliyah. Within your congregation you could tell people you prefer to be called that socially too; in shul you'll be Shmuel (or whoever) and outside you'll be Chris or Christian. (This is what Christina ended up doing.) If you can get used to being called two different things and occasionally having to sort out confusion when contexts overlap, you should be fine. Or you could go one step farther and use your new Hebrew name everywhere, either informally (like a nickname) or formally (legal name-change).

But to get back to your question: no, being named "Christian" will not handicap your conversion.

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I, too, know a convert named Chris (a man, in this case). He uses both his English and Hebrew names within the Jewish community. –  Isaac Moses Nov 27 '13 at 19:42
    
I know a "Christina" who basically became "Tina" –  Shalom Nov 27 '13 at 19:51
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I know several converts who completely stopped using their given English names and only use the Hebrew names they chose on conversion. –  Dennis Nov 27 '13 at 20:44
    
@Dennis legally (e.g. school, employment, taxes, driver's license...), or just socially? –  Monica Cellio Nov 27 '13 at 20:47
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Just socially, legally, they continue to use their English given names. –  Dennis Nov 28 '13 at 23:00
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No, you would not have an issue because of your name. You may (depending on who you spoke with) get some desire to change the name, as some question the use of the word (although as far as I know it is better than substituting it with an X and writing X-tian as is common). But upon conversion the practice* is to take a new Jewish name, so for all matters Jewish it won't be relevant.

But think about how your mom would feel if you changed it, or went by a different name. It might be a reason to not convert.

*This is referenced somewhere on this site already, can't find where right now.

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I wouldn't think that concerns about how your mom would feel about a name change, especially if not legal but just a nickname of sorts, should be a factor. Or, at least, not nearly as big a factor as how your mom will feel about you rejecting the religion she raised you in. :-) –  Monica Cellio Nov 27 '13 at 19:20
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Monica, as mentioned in the original post, my parents are not religious –  rootwolf Nov 27 '13 at 19:33
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Mashiach is not an uncommon first name in the Syrian Jewish community, and I cannot think of any halachic reason why that would not be unacceptable for a convert.

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Sorry for the double-negativity that I have going on in my answer... –  Adam Mosheh Dec 3 '13 at 23:09
    
Wouldn't the correct translation of the term be Meshichi? Anyway, it seems naive to ignore the dictionary definition in favor of the literal translation. –  Yishai Dec 4 '13 at 16:46
    
No, that would be an adjective; mine is more of a noun. What is throwing you off is the fact that feminine nouns and adjectives are sometimes interchangeable. –  Adam Mosheh Dec 11 '13 at 18:53
    
Or Messianic, not Messiah. –  Adam Mosheh Dec 11 '13 at 18:54
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