You’re probably wondering who actually calls me Ding. Well, basically just about everyone
It’s interesting how accidental nicknames can attach themselves to you for life. I know — because hardly a day goes by that someone doesn’t ask me how I got the name “Ding.” So as a public service (and to get people to stop asking), it’s time to divulge the answer.
It all began in high school, in Yeshiva Torah Vodaath. The school was in the middle of G.O. (student council) elections. I happened to have been out for a few days with the flu, so my very good friend Josh Kalowitz (today diagnostic radiologist Dr. Joshua Kalowitz) took it upon himself to enter my name into the race for president. He went around the school posting signs that said “Vote Ding!” Now, many people assume that “Ding” is a shortened version of my last name, which happens to be Golding, but actually, it’s an acronym of my initials: Dovid Nachman Golding. From then on, I was dubbed “Ding” and it just sort of stuck itself on me until today.
You’re probably wondering who actually calls me Ding. Well, basically just about everyone. My wife, my family, my friends, even the doorman. Sometimes it gets a little embarrassing if I have to introduce myself to a rav or someone of great stature. First they stare, making sure they heard me correctly, and then they smile in recognition, along with, “Oh, as in Suki and…?”
But actually, I became Ding before I ever knew Suki Berry. Suki’s real name is Yissocher, but neither is his nickname a shortened version of that. He was born on Succos, hence the name Suki. Now, put those two names together and you can see why we constantly get calls from people trying to order Chinese food.
In August of 1977, Suki and I released our first album, Suki with a Touch of Ding (Presents the Greatest Wedding Album). Not thinking I would make any money on that project, I chalked it up to a fun experience and moved on with life — in September, I began my job as a fourth-grade English teacher in Lubavitch on Ocean Parkway. And then one day, about two weeks before Chanukah, I got a call from my distributor, Sol Tishler of Menorah Records, which was then located on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Sol informed me that he had a royalty check for me, and should he mail it or would I pick it up? I said I’d pick it up the next day. I honestly had no idea how much it would be, but I wasn’t expecting much.
When I arrived at Menorah Records the next day, I got a surprisingly warm greeting, along with an envelope. I thanked Sol and was heading out, when he stopped me and said, “You guys should really make another album.” I politely demurred, but then I got to my car and opened the envelope. Let’s just say I began planning the next album, right then and there.
Later that very same day, fate intervened, and I received a phone call from my friend Yehudah Spinner, a sax and clarinet player who played on that first album. He had been learning with Suki in Israel, and he had come back to America for his sister’s wedding. Not knowing anything about the check, he kept saying that I should come back with him to Israel and join him and Suki at Yeshivas Itri. Later that day I thought about it seriously: Should I continue teaching English to a bunch of hyperactive fourth graders or go to live and learn in Yerushalayim? The answer was obvious to me. The next day, I went to put in my resignation to the principal in Lubavitch. He was the only one who wasn’t happy about that check.
A week later, I was on a plane with Yehudah Spinner, heading to Eretz Yisrael, and making one really smart decision for my future (I wound up staying for the next two years). Finally, to all those fourth graders at Lubavitch I left hanging right before Chanukah, my sincere apologies. And in case you were wondering about those G.O. elections, much like The Donald, I lost that one too.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 915)
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