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Naming Your Child

It is never too early to start thinking about names for your child.  Since there are so many other things to do the first days after the birth, it is best to start working on name selection now. In addition to the English name, your baby will need a Hebrew name, which is formally given at a boy's bris.  Therefore, the name needs to be finalized several days before the bris, so that the certificates can be completed accurately.

The Hebrew and English names can be exactly the same, such as David, Asher, Ilan, Levi, Micah, or Zev.  Or, they can be the translated equivalent, such as Aharon/Aaron, Binyamin/Benjamin, Yitzchak/Issac, Yaakov/Jacob, Yonatan/Jonathan, Yoel/Joel, or Noach/Noah.  Some parents simply pick a name they like, but it is a beautiful custom to name your child after a loved one.  

What's in a Name?

Ashkenazi Jews name their children after deceased relatives they wish to honor.  Sephardic Jews name their babies after beloved living relatives.  By giving a baby a relative's Hebrew name, you are giving the essence of that person's soul and positive attributes to your baby.

Kabbalistically, it is best to name a boy after a male relative, and a girl after a female. If you know or can find out the relative's name, you can give your child the same name as the relative you are remembering.  Otherwise, you can pick a similar Hebrew name, or one that starts with the same initial sound as that of your loved one.  If there is no one you wish to name him after, you may pick a Hebrew name you like, or one similar to his English name.  We have a book of Hebrew names, and we are pleased to help you choose a Hebrew name for your child.  Please call me as soon as you can, so we can give you some choices to think about.

In Hebrew, we name a child as his first name, the son or daughter of his/her parents.  For example, our patriarch Isaac's full name is Yitzchak ben Avraham v' Sarah, that is, Isaac the son of Abraham and Sarah.  For this reason, I will also need both parents' Hebrew names, and whether father's family are Kohanim or Leviim.  In case you are not aware of your Hebrew names, you can ask your parents or look for them on your Ketubah, your Jewish marriage certificate.

Again, please contact us soon to let us know your child's name, or to let us help you pick an appropriate name for him. Sometimes, you will need to make a few calls to relatives to get information, and we do not want to leave this to the last minute. At the bris, you are welcome to say a few words to your guests about your choice of Hebrew name for your son, your loved one's qualities you hope your son will emulate, or your hopes and aspirations for your son in general.

Mazel Tov!



Copyright 2001, Kenneth E. Katz, M.D.  All Rights Reserved.  Graphics may not be used without permission.

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