What’s in a name? Apparently, when it comes to algorithms, a lot.
In the past few months, I did a bunch of free courses on how to get the most out of LinkedIn. As a result, I found amazing people who I think of as part of my “tribe.” And now I’m a LinkedIn junkie.
Yes, I admit it, I’m addicted to LinkedIn. It could be worse. It could be Snapchat.
In April, I realized that many of my 3,000+/- LinkedIn connections were from Israel. Furthermore, some of my most engaged connections were orthodox Jews.
Let me be clear: I do not scrutinize LinkedIn to find out where my potential or newly acquired connections live or what they believe. I don’t care what color or creed you are — I accept every LinkedIn invitation that comes my way. If you’re nice enough to reach out, I’m glad to have you in my network.
The reason I noticed I had so many people with similar backgrounds is because they all posted about one thing at the end of March: preparing for Passover (also known as Pesach.) In the first week of April, many of my connections disappeared from my LinkedIn news feed. I missed them. A week later, they re-emerged, some of them posting about how much they missed bread.
It struck me as a bizarre coincidence.
I’m not Jewish. I was raised in a Christian household, but in the past two decades I went through some soul-searching that put me on a different path. Now I am a truth-seeking atheist who appreciates the tradition of organized religion but refuses to be defined by any one particular faith.
I attend a Unitarian Universalist church because it is important for me to be part of a community, and this church is the least dogmatic one I could find.
As a congregation, UUs believe in the sanctity of all faiths. I believe in the sanctity of all faiths, too, as long as nobody tries to shove their faith down my throat.
Knowing this, you may now understand why I was so puzzled.
I texted my best friend, who is the recipient of every bizarre question that pops into my mind, for better or for worse.
“You want to hear something odd? Two of my clients thus far have been Jewish. My ‘tribe’ on LinkedIn is full of people from Israel. Some of them are orthodox Jews. Do I have a niche I don’t know about?”
“I bet it’s your name,” she responded, matter-of-factly.
My name is Esther. My parents named me after Queen Esther in the Bible.
Legend has it that Esther — a Jewish exile— married Persian King Ahasuerus (also known as Xerxes) and broke decorum by begging him to save her people when they were threatened with genocide by a public official. The Jewish holiday of Purim is celebrated in her honor. Which is bad ass.
The name “Esther” means star, or bright one. The name is also linked to Inanna — also known as Ishtar — the ancient Sumerian goddess of love, beauty, sex, desire, fertility, war, combar, justice, and political power. Which is also bad ass.
TANGENT: Esther’s Jewish name was “Hadassah.” When I was a kid, an aggravating guy in my parents’ church thought he was either funny or brilliant (and was neither) would call me “Hadassah” and wonder why I would scowl at him in response: “My name is not Hadassah.”
Never in a million years did I expect that my name would have anything to do with the geographic location or faith of my connections on LinkedIn.
But apparently, there are a ton of Jewish and/or Israeli organizations in the world that bear the name “Esther” or “Hadassah.” I can only surmise that LinkedIn has complex algorithms that may have led us to discover one another.
However it happened, I’m glad to have these connections who provide differing perspectives on life, work, education, and a host of other issues. I have been blessed by their presence. One has been instrumental in helping me maintain a certain aspect of my emotional health. Another opened my eyes to a field of psychology I never knew existed. Another tells “dad jokes” that make me laugh until my sides hurt.
Life is funny. The moment you think you have something all figured out, it surprises you all over again.
If anyone has any insight into this topic, please feel free to comment below.
Esther Hofknecht Curtis, BSOL, MSM-HCA is a freelance writer living in Delaware. Follow her on Facebook — go to https://www.facebook.com/TheArdentReader19977/