Namesakes deal with mix-ups and mistaken identities

Namesakes deal with mix-ups and mistaken identities

When Michael Reingold started his new job in New Jersey last July, a friend e-mailed him after getting his new address via Google. When he ran into her months later, she mentioned her surprise that he hadn’t responded. It turned out that she had e-mailed another Michael Reingold (we’ll call him Michael II) in Bergen County, whom Michael I didn’t even know existed.

Michael Reingold of the Jewish Home at Rockleigh, left, is pictured with Michael Reingold of the JCC Thurnauer School of Music. Photos by Jerry Szubin

Michael I, who is 47, is assistant administrator of the Jewish Home at Rockleigh, Russ Berrie Home for Jewish Living. Michael II, who is 40, has been assistant director of the JCC Thurnauer School of Music for 14 years. People involved in both organizations, including board members, overlap. There had been a number of mix-ups because of their identical names.

"Other people have names that are much more common and likely to be shared, so they’re probably used to it," relates Michael II, "but for me, it’s more unusual. To be honest, it’s not something I think about a lot. But I hope people don’t get us confused."

Reuben Gross, the architect, left, gets acquainted with Reuben Gross, the psychologist and marriage counselor.

Neither of the Michaels lives in New Jersey. Michael II lives in Manhattan, while Michael I lived there until a month ago, when he moved to Westchester. In a further coincidence, Michael II has gotten phone calls at home for a Michael Reingold who is a cop; Michael is a former NYPD cop.

Do they mind sharing a name? "I don’t mind at all — I think it’s funny," says Michael I. "Most Reingolds are related. My mother could tell you in a second. She’s a genealogist about the Reingold name." Reached by phone, Michael I’s mother conceded that the two men probably are not related.

The two Michaels are not the only ones with a mistaken-identity problem.

Reuben E. Gross, psychologist and marriage counselor, and Reuben D. Gross, architect, both live and do business in
Teaneck. Although they live only a few blocks apart, Reuben the Psychologist says mix-ups have been minimal. "Occasionally a letter gets misdirected," he reports; he also had to clear up some misunderstandings with the pharmacy. "I’ve gotten some of his emergency phone calls in the middle of the night," says Reuben the Architect, "and he sometimes writes letters to the Standard that people think are from me."

Both of their wives are occupational therapists. Reuben the Architect, who is 47 years old, has lived in Teaneck for 19 years and raised three daughters — two are in high school and one is starting college this year. Reuben the Psychologist, who calls himself a "senior citizen," is originally from Borough Park but has lived and worked here since 197′ and raised three children, who have given him nine grandchildren. The two are apparently not related in any way. "I’ve researched my family way back," says the architect, who is originally from Far Rockaway.

Does it bother either of them that the other has the same name? "Not at all, says the architect. "It’s not that popular a name." The psychologist says, "It’s unusual because there are so few Reuben Grosses in this world."

On the day of their photo ops, the two pairs met for the first time. Their reactions? "If I would want anyone to have the same name as me, it would be Michael C. Reingold," says Michael of the Jewish Home at Rockleigh. "He is a really nice guy, well-respected in his field, and I enjoyed meeting him."

The Michael of the JCC says of his counterpart, "Like all Michael Reingolds, he’s a very nice guy with a good sense of humor, dedicated to the community, close family, etc."

As for the two Reubens, the psychologist sums it up this way: "As long as the IRS doesn’t confuse us and as long as our wives can tell us apart, I’m fine with it."

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