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Leaving aside the reasons why someone would change their name. Is there a process that a person needs to go through in doing so?

At what point does the new name-change comes into effect?

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  • Are you talking about something like changing the name of a choler/ah? Or Ploni deciding that he wants to be called something else? Oct 19 '14 at 2:58
  • 2
    @Noach the question is not bothered with the reason for the name change, rather the process, unless there is indeed a difference in circumstance
    – bondonk
    Oct 19 '14 at 14:34
  • There is a text in the RCA Madrikh, which I want to consult before answering. The book is at work. If I haven't answered in a few days, someone can remind me. Jan 26 '15 at 4:43
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You ask here how to change a name, related MY questions address the questions of whether it is permitted and to what name change to it.

Today to change one's name one goes to a rav (rabbi) although chabad.org says this is only to change the first and main name, otherwise anyone can add a name. It describes the process as follows

When changing a patient’s name, some say that it should be done in the patient’s presence, and with a minyan, after reciting several chapters of the Psalms and praying for the patient. Others say that the name should be changed when one of the relatives is called up to the Torah in shul; he takes hold of the Torah scroll, a mi shebeirach is recited, and then the name is changed.

The 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia says this is usually given in the synagogue when the Torah scroll is taken out of the ark and unrolled. It has the following nusach (formula) to be said

When the Righteous Judgment has already decreed death from illness, behold, our saintly rabbis said: Three things annul the decree; and one of them is changing the name of the patient. We therefore, in conformity with their advice, have changed the name of [mention here the former name] to the name of (mention the adopted name], who is now another person. The decree shall not have any force with regard to him. Together with the change in name, so shall His decree be reversed from justice to mercy, from death to life, from illness to perfect health for [mention adopted name]. In the name of all the sacred names mentioned in this Sefer Torah, and in the name of the angels, the messengers of all healing and salvation, O Lord, send speedily a perfect cure to [adopted name], that his days and years may be prolonged in happiness, in goodness, and in peace, for ever and ever. Amen, Selah.

Finally, R Yehonassan Sasportas at thehalachacenter brings up a source for the name change and different details

The Geonim, as recorded in Rabbeinu Yerucham (28,1), expanded this custom and enacted that it be done by a Minyan and a Sefer Torah. In addition, a special Tefilah called "Metzalin" should be recited. It includes the change of name and a fervent request that the patient recovers speedily and be considered a new person free of the original evil decree. Also, that he may have the opportunity to perform more good deeds and find favor in the eyes of his creator. The Tefilah is concluded with the Bracha of Gomel and the blowing of the Shofar. The contemporary version of this Tefilah differs a little bit in content and omits the Shofar, Sefer Torah and Gomel. It is accompanied by the recitation of select Mizmorim of Tehillim and the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy. It can be found in the Siddur of R' Yaacov Emdin.

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I've seen a great Sefardi Av Bet Din in NY who makes the person place their hands one on top of the other and then they are placed on the Aron Kodesh he then changes it using Mi Sheberach text. Then he saids the Shir Hamalos.

He also makes sure that ten people hear the name change.

Shaarei Halachah Uminhag, vol. 3 writes that it should be changed in a Mi Shberach after a Aliyah to the Torah.

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    And what about someone who is not eligible for an aliyah?
    – bondonk
    Oct 20 '14 at 19:35
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    so its gonna work without it , i guess :D
    – havarka
    Dec 18 '14 at 21:13
  • Which "Shir Hamaalos"?
    – Daniel
    Jan 18 '15 at 0:26
  • Also which Mi Sheberach text?
    – Daniel
    Mar 18 '15 at 22:43
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    Any real mekoros for these procedures?
    – Mark A.
    Sep 7 '16 at 0:51
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Generally you would gather a minyan together (doesn't have to be in shul necessarily) and say a declaration. There isn't one specific wording that is required to say, and it takes effect as soon as you do this. The reason makes a difference in what you would say. For example, if you are changing the name as an effort towards changing a negative health (or any other) situation, you could use this nusach from https://rabanim.net/?nav=send&searchnow=%20%F0%E5%F1%E7%20%E4%E5%F1%F4%FA%20%F9%ED. There are others listed there as well.

You do NOT need a Rabbi to do it for you, and it certainly shouldn't cost you money. Although I do recommend discussing it with a Rabbi that you know and trust.

נוסח השינוי לגבר: מי שברך אבותינו אברהם יצחק ויעקב הוא יברך את (פלוני בן פלונית -השם הישן) ויקרא שמו בישראל (פלוני בן פלונית - השם החדש) כמו שכתוב לא יקרא עוד את שמך אברם והיה שמך אברהם כי אב המון גויים נתתיך , ישמח הוא בשמו , ויתקיים שמו בו , כדכתיב: "ואגדלה שמך והיה ברכה" יהי רצון מלפניך י-הוה א-לוהינו וא-לוהי אבותינו שיהא שינוי שמו זה לבטל מעליו כל גזירות קשות ורעות ולקרוע מעליו כל רוע גזר דין ואם נקנסה מיתה על (פלוני - השם הישן) על (פלוני - השם החדש) לא נגזרה ואם נגזירה גזירה על (פלוני -השם הישן) על (פלוני - השם החדש) לא נגזרה, והרי הוא כאיש אחר וכבריה חדשה וכקטן שנולד לחיים טובים ולאריכות שנים ולמילואי ימים ונאמר: "שמעתי את תפילתך ראיתי את דמעתך הנני רופא לך ביום השלישי תעלה בית ה' " (ולכן נוהגים לומר זאת במנחה של שבת במברך שלישי) כדכתיב: "יחיינו מיומיים ביום השלישי יקימנו ונחיה לפניו".

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