“A Rose is a rose by any other name,” as Shakespeare said a long time ago. But not so in Jewish tradition! The name is the person or the animal —if you recall the Genesis story of Adam naming the animals as they were created. The sentiment of Jewish tradition, going all the way back to the Adam story, is that a name imparts the character, traits, personality to who or what is being named.
Significance of Names
The name is the essence of who we are. And while most of us don’t take this notion literally, it is one of the reasons that we name our children after deceased relatives in the Ashkenazi (Eastern European Jewish tradition) and in many cases after living relatives in the Sephardic (Spanish Jewish tradition). Of course there is an additional and overriding reason to name our children and grandchildren after relatives: to perpetuate and honor the memory of people who we love. Particularly in the aftermath of the Holocaust, the naming of a child after a relative who perished, in what Elie Wiesel calls Night, is a significant way of perpetuating a name and the memory of a family member. From my personal perspective, as a son of Holocaust survivors, naming a child after a family member who perished during that dark period of our people’s history, expresses my desire to link myself with the past, and very importantly, to carry myself forward into the future as a part of the Jewish people.
Jewish Baby Naming Celebration
While it is true that a Jewish infant boy is named during the Brit Milah (Covenant of Circumcision ceremony), many families have chosen to name their children, both boys and girls, in the synagogue/temple or a home ceremony by a rabbi. I am pleased to be able to create a home naming ceremony—that is, a celebration– for families not affiliated with congregations. My ceremony is tailored to create a festive mood, a sense of meaning through Jewish tradition, and a memorable, joyous event for family and friends.
I begin to prepare for your celebration by discussing what the naming of your child means to you and your family. From our discussion, and I hope the opportunity to get to know you, I will prepare a service that will strike a joyous cord for the family and guests. By now you may have gathered by reading my web page that I don’t like certain kinds of surprises, particularly the kind that will detract from your celebration. After all, it’s not fair for you and your family to be subjected to a mystery ceremony that might in some way not reflect the elements of joy and celebration that you are anticipating.
I will make certain to run the service by you and give you ample time to ask questions and make suggestions, so that on the day of the service you will know when and who will participate – and what is going to take place. It might be that you will want multiply your joy by naming more than one of your children on a particular occasion. I am happy to accommodate your situation and create the kind of wonderful celebration that will uplift you.