You Can Call Me Chana
"No one can pronounce my name correctly. Most people think it's "Shana" or "Chayna" or "Shanna." It's not hard, really: just say "Hannah," only with a guttural ch sound, like "Chanukah."
Even fewer people can spell it. So, like any unusual, foreign-sounding name, mine is somewhat of a handicap when leaving phone messages. When reporting, I spend at least half of my time on the phone spelling my name to secretaries.
"No, it's C-h-a-n-a. Chana. It's Hebrew," I explain patiently.
"Oh, with a C? Never seen it spelled that way before. That's pretty," the secretary says, obediently copying it down.
...There has never been another Chana in my class (although a Harvard classmate spells it Hanna). This uniqueness made it harder to blend in when I was a preteen and wanted to disappear into a crowd. But now that I'm older and value individuality, I appreciate the merits of not being just another Mary or Susan.
...Because of my name, my religion is one of the first things most people find out about me.
Having a Biblical name also connects me directly to Judaism. Just as keeping kosher reminds me who I am every time I eat something, my name constantly reminds me and others that I'm Jewish. One upshot of the difficulty non-Jews have with my name is the comfort I feel around Jews. After a summer of spelling my name, the visit of an Israeli cousin who could spit it out in full guttural glory was soothing. People who say my name right on the first try win my instant approval and trust.