What’s in a name?

Wednesday was nuts. We got up and out of the house by 10am, to make the 1.5 hour trek to our synagogue for Jonah’s brit milah/naming at 1pm. We needed the full 3 hours and I am so glad we’re moving closer. But anyway, we made it and even accomplished our first public breast feeding sessions, at a Panera’s, at the synagogue and at a pizza restaurant. I would rather not have taken Jonah out publicly yet, to avoid germs. Yet I was less excited to breast feed him in the car, especially on a 90-degree day.

The bris was a success. thankfully. I was feeling awkward about it because we don’t really know anyone and no family members were around. So it was just Samuel, Josh, Jonah, and I making the trip to attend and complete the event. Also, honestly, the mitzvah makes me so freaking nervous I was happy to just get it over with. Fortunately, as the mohel pointed out, the mitzvah is in doing it, not watching it so Samuel and I hid in the lounge outside the ladies’ rest room.

We named him Yonah Nissim in Hebrew. Yonah is dove; Nissim is miracles. I have long loved the name Jonah–it happens that the first rabbi with whom I was close shares the name, but I didn’t really choose it for him. It’s just nice to have a positive association and I do hope Jonah is equally committed to Jewish learning and community. Nissim is a name I first heard applied to people in Israel. One of my favorite kids from the gan (kindergarten) where I taught in Jerusalem came from a family of Nissims. They were Sephardic so named children after living relatives, and he was not only the 20th Nissim in the line, but he was the 20th generation of their family to live in Jerusalem. I didn’t really name my son after a child I last saw when he was 5 years old, but I definitely think about that family and their history when I think about his name.

He’s also our third boy to have a name beginning with the letter Nun/N. I wanted the boys to all have something in common with their names. Natan means gift from God. Samuel’s middle name, Nadav, means the generous one. I didn’t know of any other names suggesting gifts or generosity, other than Matan, which is too close to Natan for my comfort. So shared letter it was. Nun does have some association with the Jewish concepts of falling and redemption, and this association feels poignant to me.

Awhile back, a discussion of where people were respectively in their grief circulated in blog posts. This is my life, and I am okay with it. I don’t really question it, and I don’t grieve very openly or cry very often over Natan. I think I’ve reached acceptance. Usually, when sadness or anger strikes, it has to do with the present and my fears about life now. I no longer really ask why me, because I’ve been given so much since Natan’s death 5 years ago. At this point I consider myself so lucky, I have no more reason to be mad.

6 responses to “What’s in a name?

  1. When I read on FB that you had *named* Jonah, I just wanted to hug you, it me so emotional. Names are important, and you’ve give all your boys beautiful, beautiful names.

  2. This sounds like a lovely if exhausting day. And a wonderful way for your boys to share a close connection. And honestly, to me the “miracle” meaning is inherently close to the “gifting” and “giving” meaning. The only other name in the gifting category that I know of is Shai, which is a lovely name too and belongs to a couple of lovely boys I happen to know.

    We are working out the middle name right now ourselves, and one of the considerations is to continue the theme that we set up when we named the Cub in a way that connected with A’s name. Monkey is obviously out of luck there… But she brought home her siddur from school for the summer so we can figure out a proper symbolic representation for her sister and add it to the back cover. I honestly didn’t even think to do that…

  3. like.niobel.all.tears@gmail.com

    Congratulations. Love the names you chose.

    (Though, honestly, this topic can be a little fraught for me. Ruby was converted and, therefore, has a Hebrew name — in fact, her name is your pseudonym, mostly because it’s similar to her English name. However, Cole wasn’t converted and, therefore, has no Hebrew name. Sigh.)

  4. and the last comment (though it’s probably obvious) is from me, niobe

  5. I love his name! Nissim is one of my favorites as well (and my yet to be conceived son will be, Gd willing, Natan!)

    I wish I could of come. I know that the bris is so hard on the mommy and I would of definitely held your hand!

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