Thursday, September 8, 2011

Life, Strength, and Help

My children have names in English and names in Hebrew. Each of them was named, both in English and in Hebrew, in memory of a departed relative. The older two were given the Hebrew names of my grandmother's older brothers--The Boy is Chayim Dovid and Meatball is Yehuda Aryeh. Ender's Hebrew name is Ezra Ovadiah, with Ovadiah being my great-grandfather's Hebrew name and Ezra being for my uncle Eddie even though his actual Hebrew name is Yehuda.

It should be noted that many Jewish people only have one name and it's a Hebrew or Yiddish one. Others have a name that can be translated easily but they go by the Hebrew version or a nickname derived from it. We're not Hebrew speakers (well, I am, but it's not my first language and no one else really speaks it so I'd be talking to the wall until I start teaching it to the kids beyond the letters that they already know) and we're not very religiously observant, so my children have secular American names.

Anyhow, I thought about my children's Hebrew names and their meanings and how much each child embodies his name. The Boy's Hebrew name Chayim means "life." Many Jewish people add the name "Chayim" (for a boy/man) or "Chaya" (for a girl/woman) to their Hebrew name if they get sick, and it is supposed to bring them extra healing. The Boy needed extra healing in his life but was already named Chayim. Everyone prayed for him; the name "Chayim Dovid ben Miriam" (Chayim Dovid the son of Miriam, which is my Hebrew name) was well-known in the community in New Jersey and in Pittsburgh as well, not to mention in Harrisburg and many other places. But more than The Boy getting his life back, he showed us exactly what was important in life, and what was not. His struggles, and our struggles, made us better people.

Meatball's first Hebrew name, "Yehuda," is the Hebrew version of Judah (or rather, that's the translation of "Yehuda"). His middle name is "Aryeh" which means "Lion." He happens to like lions, but I prefer to focus on the strength of the lion for Meatball. He's a strong kid, sure, but he gave us a lot of strength at a time when we really needed it, and having him gave us the strength to make many hard decisions.

As for Ender, we really hit a positive turning point during the time following his birth. His first Hebrew name, "Ezra," means "help." And his middle name, "Ovadiah" (pronounced o VAHD ya; in English it is "Obadiah"), means "work." Since his birth, my sister, her boyfriend, my husband, and hopefully I as well, have gotten jobs. I have a meeting tomorrow with someone about a part-time position that is very compatible with having children. Although we thought that adding a third child would make life more difficult, in fact, he has helped us without knowing it.

1 comment:

Elana said...

That's so neat! I actually didn't know either Meatball or Ender's Hebrew names until now. And actually someone in my community just recently had a boy and named him Yehuda Aryeh (but most likely w/o an English name). Those two names happen to be two of my all time favorites, by the way.

As for my kids, I never really thought too much about the meanings although they are named after various people. Chana Brocha is after my husband's maternal grandmother (Channah Raizel) and my maternal grandmother (Shayna Bashe). Dovid Yitzchok is after my father (Daniel Yaakov) and my husband's father (Yitzchok Leib). And Tzipora Sara is named after my paternal grandmother (Tzeyte) and my husband's paternal grandmother (Sarah).

As for meanings, Chana means "graceful" and Brocha means "blessing". I'm not sure about graceful, but she definitely is a blessing! Dovid means "beloved" and Yitzchok means "laughter". Well, we know he's beloved and he laughs an awful lot! (And makes us laugh too!!) Tzipora means "bird" and Sara means "princess". Not sure how those will come to play into her personality but I hope being a princess won't mean she acts like one (know what I mean?) :-) But she definitely chirps like a bird already!