Schelly at Tracing the Tribe writes today about the old "They changed our name at Ellis Island" myth. The linked article tells the apocryphal story of a Jewish immigrant who ending up with the name "Sean Fergusson."
“It’s like this,” the second Jew said. “My name was Moshke Rabinowitz. The first time I arrived at Ellis Island, I failed the eye test, so the doctors sent me back to Europe. There my eyes were treated and cured, and I decided to try again. But what would happen, I thought, if I turned up a second time as the same Moshke Rabinowitz? They’d already know me and send me back again. And so I decided to call myself Yankl Katzenstein. Still, what if someone recognized me? And so there I was, standing in line at Ellis Island and getting more and more nervous all the time, and when it’s finally my turn I’m so flustered that I can’t remember my new name. The immigration official asks me what it is, and I can’t think of it; it’s simply escaped me. ‘Oy, kh’hob shoyn fargesn!’ I say. ‘Sean Fergusson?’ the official repeats, and writes it down on the form.”
In Yiddish, of course, kh’hob shoyn fargesn means “I’ve forgotten.” [Link]