Really, what is in a name? Such an easy title, such a complex idea!
We all need to be called something, we all have a name. When my son says to me, “that boy with long hair,” I always answer back, “that kid’s mom didn’t name him the boy with the long hair…” We all have a name. So, where do they come from? Sure, we can choose a name off the top 100 baby name list, but that isn’t all that is involved when you give someone an identity. History and thought goes into that name as well.
I know when my three kids were born, we had to choose a letter of the alphabet that was after a loved one. My relatives came from Russia, making us Ashkenazic so we tend to name after a loved one. I was told that it is a way of keeping their memory alive, that their soul is still with us. Then my Sephardic-Israeli husband said they name in honor of a loved one, usually a grandparent. And so the choices begin, but really each choice is wrapped around tradition, even if we aren’t 100% aware of it.
Why tradition? Well, Jewish people living in non-Jewish lands need a Hebrew name, a name that is preferably easy to pronounce. That is the way it always has been, but did you know that in the 12th century the Rabbis actually passed a Rabbinical ruling requiring Jews to have a Hebrew name. Take Yitzhak, not so easy, but Isaac…simple. Some parents have gone the route, like I did, and given names that work for both like Adam or Sarah. Others use the first letter to match up: Nechama and Nikki, others choose a Hebrew name after a relative and a secular name that they just flat out love with no connection at all. But still, Jewish tradition is there in that name.
All in all, maintaining tradition and learning about the history of our ancestors is what keeps Judaism alive. The lifecycle event which starts at birth with the naming of a child continues to the next event, their Bat/Bar Mitzvah and eventually to marriage… all falling back on tradition. The entire history of the Jewish people is recreated and continued in a simple thing…. a name.
A wonderful gift, tying in tradition and celebration, is gifting a piece of jewelry with one’s Hebrew name. Choose a Hebrew font perhaps with a date to remember the occasion. Alternatively, do a Hebrew name in English font. The choice is yours, what matters is continuing tradition. Celebrate lifecycle events, take pride in your heritage.
See the choices of name necklaces online at Alef Bet Jewelry by Paula. We will help you spell your name in Hebrew, just let us know!
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Read the article at Mazelmoments, where they show you how to plan and perfect your perfect Moment!!