What’s In a Name?

In what only can be described as a couple of slow news weeks, the press eagerly awaited the birth and naming of the Royal Baby. The Little Prince arrived in due course, was named George Alexander Louis, and officially is third in line for the throne of the United Kingdom. His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge – this infant – eventually will become King George VII.

A high school friend posted a multipart series that he called “The Legacy of English Kings named George” on Facebook. Each entry briefly described the Kings George I through VI; their values, behaviors, and how others perceived them. The posts got me thinking about the power of a name – the images and feelings it can conjure up – and the legacy it can leave.

The naming of a Jewish child is an important spiritual, family, and community event. The Ashkenazi custom is to name the baby after a deceased relative who imbued personality and/or behavioral traits worthy of carrying into the new generation. It is believed that one’s Hebrew name carries with it a unique essence of character.

Can one’s name predict the type of person one will become? Does one’s name cause people to treat him or her in ways (positive or negative) that create a self-fulfilling prophecy?

Years ago I read a poem in graduate school that had a tremendous impact on me. It was written by Zelda Mishkowsky and is called “Everyone Has a Name”…

Everyone has a name

given to him by God 
and given to him by his parents

Everyone has a name

given to him by his stature and the way he smile s
and given to him by his clothing

Everyone has a name

given to him by the mountains
 and given to him by his walls

Everyone has a name

given to him by the stars
 and given to him by his neighbors

Everyone has a name

given to him by his sins 
and given to him by his longing

Everyone has a name

given to him by his enemies 
and given to him by his love

Everyone has a name

given to him by his feasts 
and given to him by his work

Everyone has a name

given to him by the seasons 
and given to him by his blindness

Everyone has a name

given to him by the sea and
 given to him
by his death.

Yes, everyone has a name. And, though it initially is given to each of us by our parents with hope and promise, it is within our own power to polish or tarnish it.

Good luck, Little Prince. 

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About Through Jewish Eyes

Just an average girl trying to do good, with a family and a faith that keep her grounded and focused on what's important.

Posted on July 25, 2013, in Random Thoughts and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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