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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

Your Name

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 dad

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

And days

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

or short?

Have a head of curls?

Or freckles?

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

an astronaut?

a violinist?

an artist?

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

And going

And going

Far into the future.

You and your name.

Your name gives you power

And Strength

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

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