The Name Game

Before we knew what we were having — other than a, you know, baby — I thought “oh my goodness! What if I have to have a c-section (I did) and I have a hard time recovering (I did) and I have to plan a bris for a boy? (I didn’t.).” At around 20 weeks, when we saw the ultrasound that showcased a hamburger and not a hot dog, I admit I let out a sigh of relief that I would not have to have a mohel on standby or put in a deli platter order at Brent’s seven days after I/Dr. Fiiiiine delivered a baby. Instead, Bryan and I knew right away that we would love to honor our baby girl with a naming ceremony.

Shortly after, we joined a reform temple in town and fell in love with the musical influences that reminded us of our Sunday school experiences and my summers away at camp. It was important to us that we raise our kids with a Jewish identity. We are not planning to force feed the Torah down our kids’ throats, but we thought giving them the foundation and allowing them to choose how they celebrate would be a good idea, especially since we took it upon ourselves as young ones to bring our Jewish heritage to our lives. Of course it’s only fitting that the only two pre-teens I know who actually ASK their parents to go to Hebrew school would marry each other. That’s us!

So instead of going to sleep at 6:30 p.m., Madelyn got gussied up and we did our best to keep her awake and seemingly pleasant way past her bed time for her March 30th baby naming ceremony. It was a wonderful and special evening. Our closest family and friends schlepped and gathered on a Friday night for Shabbat services with the rest of the congregation. Midway through the service, Rabbi Riter called us to the bimah and blessed us as parents and blessed our daughter as a newcomer to the Jewish people. We then said some words about Madelyn and her namesake and shared why we adore her so and how her name has so much meaning.

Up on the bimah with Rabbi Riter and Cantor Shukiar. When I was younger, I thought the bimah was for performing tap dances.

Madelyn's thinking, "In 12.5 years, that Torah is ALLL MIIIINE."

Madelyn’s Hebrew name is Shana Meira (Shay-nuh May-eer-uh) which means Beautiful Light. The Meira is the feminine translation of Meir, which is Hebrew for the name Robert. Robert was Bryan’s maternal grandfather and the only grandfather he knew. He had a wonderful relationship with him that revolved around jokes, food, and their beloved boys in blue, the Dodgers. Bryan remembers enjoying the company of his grandpa Bobby for as long as he could remember, and continues to miss him since he passed away in 2005, shortly after Bryan and I met. I only got to meet Grandpa Bobby just once when we visited Bryan’s grandparents in Las Vegas a few months after we started dating. I, too, remember him as a very kind and warm person. I’m looking for pictures to share of our visit with them, but unfortunately, I don’t think I took any, which is a rare and bad move on my part.

Shana is also Madelyn’s middle name, but we incorporated it into her Hebrew name as well. The “S” in Shana is for my dad’s father, Sidney, who passed away when I was a senior in high school. It’s difficult to admit, but I realized in the past few years that I was starting to forget him. The many photos of us help to freeze him in time, but his voice, his funny antics — I know they happened — but they can’t really find a place in my current mind. That makes me mad because, really, at 17, I was old enough when he left us that I should have these memories going strong and I don’t, but it’s also somewhat comforting to know that his memory lives in Madelyn’s name. I do, remember, though, that my Poppa Sid and my Granny, who is still alive and going struh-ooooong, used to call me their Shana Maidela (Shay-nuh May-duh-luh) when I was little, which means “beautiful girl.” So now, Shana also describes Madelyn, and, oh look, Maidela kind of sounds like Madelyn. We didn’t really do this on purpose, but when Bryan and I were solidifying our daughter’s name and then her Hebrew name, we saw this link and knew it was meant to be, b’shert.

I love that two men, Sid and Bobby, who never knew each other or the fact that their granddaughter and grandson got married to each other, are linked in their great-granddaughter’s name and the legacy she’s beginning for her own future and the generations that come from it.

But then also the meaning of Shana Meira is so delightful. She’s our beautiful light, literally. Blame the mommy goggles, but this girl blows me away with her beautiful long eyelashes, her rosebud lips, her silky skin, her deep and cavernous eyes, her silly putty cheeks, and her delicate fingers that tug at my heart all day long. And she is the light of our lives. Bryan and I feel more in love than ever and we know it’s because of Madelyn and the light she brings to our marriage and our home. And when I think of light, I think of brightness, and anyone who ever meets and falls in love with Madelyn always comments on her bright eyes that are so aware and thirsty to see everything around her.

After the naming ceremony, Shabbat services finished up and a lovely oneg with refreshments and mingling followed. Whenever there are big parties for special occasions, it always seems impossible to really chat with everyone at length (ahem!wedding!ahem!) and I wish I could have slowed down the minutes of the evening so I could have spent more time with some of Madelyn’s biggest fans! I realized now that Bryan and I didn’t even get a family photo of us with our mini guest of honor. Re-do please?

Madelyn's cake!!!! that.she.can'

Madelyn yawns through the oneg. It may be all about her, but we're ignoring her needs! Oops.

Madelyn always loves hanging out with her Auntie Phis! Tonight: Naming Ceremony. In 18 years: Pinning Ceremony!

Uncle Brian holds Madelyn, who is hanging on for dear awake.

You know you're an aunt when: you hold your wailing niece and you still enjoy it.

A quick smile for Grandma and Mimi and then it's lights out, people!

By the late hour of the oneg, Madelyn was turning into our little baby zombie. She was just oh-so tired, but did a great job during the service. Perhaps it was the constant milk, Mum Mums, and walks around the sanctuary that helped keep her content.

It was special evening that we’ll always remember. We are so glad that we worked with our amazing Rabbi Riter and Cantor Shukiar to learn about how to choose a Hebrew name for our daughter that would provide depth and meaning for her parents and grandparents, salute her ancestors, and build a foundation for her future descendants.