NAMING

With the fulfillment of the commandment of Milah, God changed Abram's name to Abraham, giving him a totally new persona to complement his new role as the "father of a great nation. "For this reason, we name a baby boy at his Brit.

According to Jewish tradition, the name of a person describes his or her essence. It provides identity and generational connection. It begins the process of shaping a human being. Choosing a name empowers parents with creativity, just as God empowered Adam when He assigned him the first independent human act, the task of naming the beasts of the field, the birds of the sky and every living thing.

The Rabbis tell us that a name can influence the behavior of the person and provide a spiritual connection between the individual and his soul. A name carries enormous potential. It can define the individual or describe his personality. It can be a portent for the future or a wish that the person live up to the potential expressed in the meaning of the name. It is important, therefore, to give much thought to a child's Shem Kodesh, sacred or Hebrew name.

Jews of Ashkenazi background generally do not name after the living. It is their custom to name a child after a deceased male or female relative or someone close to the family. When naming a male child after a female, one should try to find a male equivalent with the same meaning. Sephardim consider it auspicious for longevity for a father to name after himself. Some include grandparents in this tradition so that older people also have good fortune and the blessing of continued long life. If there is no one special to be remembered or honored, a name might be chosen to correspond with a Jewish holiday or commemorative event that connects with the child's birth.

Names may be adapted from female to male, English to Hebrew, and vice-versa. If you are presently affiliated with a synagogue please ask your Rabbi to help you with this. If you are presently unaffiliated with a synagogue, I will be most happy to assist you with these adaptations. Please feel free to Contact Me or E-Mail me directly at ijb@floridamohel.com. You may also contact me by phone.