Tonight I begin teaching a five session course on Grandparenting Through a Jewish Lens. The first session is about the importance of names. As I began to prepare for the class, I was searching for my notes so entered "name" into my Google Drive and this came up. I guess that I wrote this for my writing group in February, 2019 and just found it. I thought that I would share it with you...once forgotten and now it is here, just like when we name for others. Their names are not forgotten when we give them to others.
This week in Parshat Lech Lecha, we read about the power of names. Abram's name and Sarai's names are both changed by adding the letter Hey to their names. The Hey, which represents God, imbues them with holiness and adds a certain power to them through their names. So it is with all of us. There is some degree of holiness in all of our names whether they contain the letter Hey or not.
One note about this poem. When I presented it to my writing group, I recall the criticism, that not everyone is born into a home where someone cares about their name. Not all children are equally loved and cared for in this world, so I want to acknowledge that as I present this poem to you. One hopes that even if a child is given a name at birth without a great deal of thought, or even without a measure of love, most names mean something positive and all children should strive to be like their names.
Whether you are a parent or a grandparent, names are important. They represent our pasts and our futures. What does your name mean? Your children's? Your grandchildren's?
A name was given to you on the day you were born
By your mom
Or someone who cared for you
More than anyone in the world
They thought long and hard to get it just right
They talked and talked for hours
They wanted it to fit you
Like a cozy blanket that
Wraps around you
Warm and tight
Your special person thought about you
Would you be tall
Have a head of curls?
Would you have long toes?
Would you sneeze loud or soft?
Would you love dogs or cats?
Would your voice be squeaky or silky?
You could be named for your grandpa
Or your great aunt Sue
You could be named for your mom or dad
Or a place they want to remember always
Or a time
Or a taste that they love
You could be named for someone they thought
Was a special person
They want you to be just like that person
So they gave you his name
Into your name they poured their
Hopes and dreams
For who you would be
Would you be
Maybe a scientist?
Maybe a person with a big heart
Who helps others?
Your name might be the name of a flower
Or a tree
Or a bird
or a song
or even a bee
Or a star in the sky
Your name might be one of the colors of the rainbow
Or an animal big and strong
Or sleek and graceful
Your name is your first gift
It comes wrapped in gold wrapping paper
And the biggest, best, twirliest bow
In the entire universe
Your name is like a long, long rope
That connects you to others from long ago
And that rope keeps going and going
Far into the future.
You and your name.
Your name gives you power
Wear your name with pride
Stand tall when you say it
Say it loud and strong
Don’t be shy
Remember how important you are
Remember that you are loved
When you say your name