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Jan 7 2014

And We Thought “Aiven Gray” was Unique

By at 10:05 am

two aiven grays

Cara and her husband Alex thought they had chosen a unique and meaningful name for their son that no other kid in class would have. Turns out, after doing some Internet searches for “Aiven Gray,” they stumbled upon another baby with the same name. They tracked down Dina (the mama), and the below you’ll find the two musing on their naming coincidence. 

Cara’s Story

aiven gray

Around four years ago I threw out the birth control. My fiancée and I decided to leave it to chance, and while we played family roulette in the din of moonlight, we would throw potential baby names out into the universe. Alex’s family is from Argentina, so he would propose Latino names. I was not familiar with any of them and my frustration grew with each suggestion, which in turn frustrated him with my “cultural insensitivity.”

In truth, he and I wanted to honor our dearly departed family members by naming our children after them, so I think most of his suggestions were made in jest. My father passed away when I was 4 and Alex’s mother passed away when he was 7. We had also both lost our beloved grandmothers somewhat recently. But as much as we loved our bubbes, we thought it only fitting that we should honor our parents first: Alvin and Graciela. Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 18 2013

How the Non-Jewish Mom Plans the Baby Naming Ceremony

By at 10:10 am

nametag with question mark

As if the holidays are not busy enough for our interfaith family, we have decided to do our daughters’ naming ceremonies in December.

When we had our first daughter we were undecided on how we were going to raise her and what sacraments/traditions she would practice. After our second daughter was born we decided to expose our daughters to both faiths. More specifically, we became members of a synagogue and we plan on having them attend Hebrew school when they are older.

At the age you would typically plan for a naming ceremony, my youngest was hospitalized with RSV. She continued to have some breathing issues for a few months, so we postponed the naming until her 1st birthday. Since my eldest never had a naming ceremony, we thought it would be nice to do one ceremony for both the girls. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 14 2013

Name the Next Kveller Baby, Again

By at 10:12 am


The words “We need help thinking of a good ‘Jewishy’ name for our baby,” arrive in my inbox from time to time. After writing about the baby names I would use if we were having more kids, as well the situation that resulted in my husband taking over the naming of our fourth child, I have made myself known as a baby name fanatic. When people ask for my advice, I tackle the job with dedication and pure joy.

My baby naming “career” began when Kveller’s editor, Deborah Kolben, wanted ideas for her second daughter. One of the names I offered was Romi. She used it, and even though she probably had it on her list already, I like to pretend that I really did name Deborah’s baby.

For Deborah and for Kveller’s readers, I identified five categories that I believe Jewish parents consciously, or in many cases, subconsciously use when they’re looking for “Jewishy” names for their kids. Those categories are: Read the rest of this entry →

May 4 2012

Choosing a Name: Too Goyish vs. Too… Biblical

By at 9:35 am

Figuring out a name took us a while...

Now that we’re nearing the sixth month of our pregnancy, my husband and I finally feel safe enough to try to settle on a name. I had suffered a miscarriage with my last pregnancy and didn’t want to do ANYTHING prematurely this time around. So, around month four, we started thinking about names for both boys and girls.

First came the issue of whether or not we were going to give the baby a Jewish name. We’re an interfaith couple, but my husband has no strong ties to any religion and 99% of the time defers to Judaism when it comes to life law, at least as long as we’ve been together (10+ years). That pretty much means that he’s never been a regular church-goer in his childhood, and always comes with me to High Holy Days, Passover, and the occasional Shabbat service. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 16 2012

How Martin Luther King Helped Name My Daughter

By at 9:01 am

martin luther kingIt took my husband and I under a minute to pick a name for our oldest son.

I said, “Adam?”

He said, “Adam!”

That was easy. My husband noted, “People will think we wanted a Jewish name, opened the Bible to the first page and said: There, good enough.”

It took us until I was actually filling out the birth certificate at the hospital to pick a name for our second son.

Gregory. (Hebrew name: Barak.)

Ultimately, he turned out to be so different in temperament from his brother that we wonder why we even bothered giving him his own moniker. Within minutes of meeting him, people are wont to burst out, “He’s certainly Not Adam!”

We should have just called him that.

With my daughter, the naming process was complicated by the fact that, for the first twenty weeks, I was sure I was having another boy. And for the second, by my conviction that she’d be born early.

My oldest was born four weeks ahead of schedule. His brother two weeks. I felt certain their baby sister would not be born on her due date: Martin Luther King Day. In fact, I had a sneaking suspicion I’d be delivering on Christmas, all alone in a staff-free hospital with tumbleweeds blowing by to add to the ghost-town effect. (As we were finally walking to the hospital on that very cold day in January, I told my husband, “This is the most pregnant I’ve ever been in my life!”)

We went through a whole list of girls’ names–and by we, I mean, me; my husband did not offer forth suggestions, he merely systematically vetoed mine.

For a while there, we seemed to have settled on Scarlett. But, I’ll admit, I pulled the plug on that one. At the last minute, I just didn’t have the balls to saddle a little African-American girl with the name Scarlett. (Though, subsequently, I did learn that, these days, it’s much more likely to invoke Johansson, than O’Hara.)

So there we were, at the hospital with our newborn, nameless baby daughter. On Martin Luther King Day.

It was my brother (also named Martin, and a mythology buff) who made a comment about the name Martin coming from Mars, the Roman god of war. And that Mars’ Greek equivalent was Ares.

Cue the epiphany!

“Ares?” I looked at my husband.


But, then we took it a step further. We’d agreed from the start that the baby’s middle name would be Camille, after my husband’s late grandmother.

So: Ares Camille.

Put it together and you get: Arielle, her Hebrew name. (I know, it’s a long, winding way to get there. Believe me, I know.)

Which is how, five years ago, my family ended up with a little girl named after the god of war… and a man of peace.

I figured if he could overcome the contradiction, so could she.

Jul 27 2011

New Quiz: Jewish Names

By at 1:47 pm

We’re rolling out yet another pop quiz for our Kveller readers today. This one is to test your knowledge on the ever important topic of names. From the biblical to the Yiddish to the modern Israeli names, this quiz will be especially handy if you’re currently trying to figure out what to call your little peanut (and we don’t recommend Peanut.) You can study up before hand at our Hebrew baby name bank or just fly by the seat of your pants. Either way, let us know how you do!

Take the QUIZ now!

Apr 21 2011

On Naming Twins

By at 2:10 pm

There’s been no shortage of talk about twins in the newspapers lately. “Twiblings” borne of three women and one man who pooled their genetic resources. Twin speech patterns examined. The bizarrely cruel ways people reacted to novelist Samantha Hunt’s twin pregnancy…the list goes on. I am transfixed. I am pregnant with twins, due in just a few days.

Gratefully, I haven’t had the negative experience Hunt describes (no one has told me it was my fault for having twins, as if having twins was something negative) and presumably, I’m several months away from considering speech patterns. Perhaps I should be thinking about the psychological nuances of twin-ship—but I hadn’t been until now. Instead, I’ve been obsessed with the challenge of naming our twins.

Maybe my husband and I have chosen to focus on naming because it’s an aspect of this situation we can actually control. As friends and family asked questions about how we’ll manage in our cramped apartment, whether I might breastfeed, if I will have a c-section and how we’ll navigate the religious aspects of our children’s births (a double bris? A double baby naming? One of each?), we remained undeterred in our task. Each night we climbed into bed and debated names. I was partial to Modern Hebrew names. Jon wrinkled his nose at such designations. He wanted to be sure our babies had names that Americans could easily pronounce, that wouldn’t sound “too Jewy” and for some reason, seemed vaguely presidential. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 10 2011

Time for Another Winner!

By at 11:27 am

Thank you to everyone who helped name my friends’ baby!

Thanks to your lovely suggestions, there will be one less Gilgamesha out there (thereby keeping the grand total of Gilgameshas on the planet at zero, as it should be).

After much consultation, my friends chose Orli, which means “light” in Hebrew. Perhaps more importantly, however, it is related to the French word for gold, or. (It is also similar to oro, which is gold in Spanish and Italian.)  When I asked the expectant mother why she chose this name, she noted that “I think it’s sweet and although I am (er, we are, rather) still undecided, that one has stuck with me.”  That seems like as good a reason as I’ve heard!  Thanks, MusicJulia, for the great suggestion—a onesie will be headed your way soon!

Feb 3 2011

Name My Friend’s Baby. Win a Onesie!

By at 12:10 pm

You’ve already named Natalie Portman’s baby.  I need your help again.

One of my closest friends is due to have her first child this summer.  They’re 99% sure it’s a girl, even though they haven’t had The Big Ultrasound yet.  (And no, they’re not just running on Mama’s intuition here.  My friend is a vet, and she’s ultrasounding herself at work.  Yes, she got her OB’s approval to do it. Don’t judge—you know you would do it too if you could.)

Anyway, we went out for lunch the other day and in between brownie bites (she’s pregnant, I’m nursing, what do you expect?) we started talking names.  I didn’t ask the actual name (that’s bad mojo amongst us Heebs), but she did mention that they’re hoping to name the baby in honor of her grandmother Goldie, who recently passed away.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking—why not just name the baby Goldie?  It’s fabulous, it’s glitzy, it’s not super popular but also not totally bizarro. It’s a lovely name.  Well, my friend just can’t imagine calling someone else Goldie.  Her grandmother was a force of nature, a strong woman with blazing red hair who could change lives with just one small comment.  (And yes, there is a story there, and it’s an incredible one.)  Goldie gets to keep her name.

But the baby needs one, too.  And that’s where you, my dear readers, come in.  We need ideas for girl names that will honor Goldie.  I tried to come up with some ideas, but I got nothing.  And not for lack of trying.  I’ve literally spent a lifetime trying to come up with good girl G names.  My middle name is George (and yes, there’s a story there too, but a slightly less incredible one), and although I think it’s kind of cool and edgy now, I wasn’t too fond of having a boy name when I was a kid.  I tried to come up with alternatives, but I never got farther than Georgia or Georgette.

Please, share your ideas. It could be a G name, or a name that somehow reflects my friend’s connection to her amazing grandmother.  (And no, Goldie didn’t have a middle name. I already asked.)  They’re looking for something that reflects their Jewish culture, so Giuseppa is probably out.  You have a week to leave your comment, and when all the names are in, my friend and her husband will pick their favorite answer (with no guarantee that they will use it), and that respondent will win a “Lil Pisher” onesie from A Jewish Beginning.

Want more Hebrew Baby Names to choose from?

Jan 28 2011

Weekly News Roundup: E-mail Gaffs, Facebook Feeders, and the Name Game

By at 1:01 pm

All the Jewish parenting news you probably missed this week.

- The father of a 3rd grader on the Upper East Side sent an e-mail to the public school’s e-mail list recommending a book called Debating the Holocaust, which he exclaimed was, “rocking my world!” Turns out he meant to send it to the other mass e-mail list he belongs to. You know, the one for people who debate whether the Holocaust was really as bad as they say it was. I’d recommend him and his son get the hell out of New York City. (NYT)

- Speaking of that thing that definitely did happen, Marjorie Ingall questions where the tastefulness/tastelessness line falls when it comes to children’s books about the Holocaust. Benno and the Night of Broken Glass may have a cute cat protagonist, but can young children really handle the brunt horror of Kristallnacht? (Tablet)

- Science weighs in on the breastfeeding debate and declares that it’s no debate at all: breastfed babies are smarter babies. And luckily, those mothers who are unable to nurse but would still like a brainier baby can head over to Facebook (if they aren’t on there already) to join their local Eats on Feets group and easily connect with other mothers interested in milk-sharing. (NPR)

- America may be a Christian-majority nation, but Jewish names have been dominating the most popular baby name lists for some time. For the tenth year in a row, Jacob was the most popular name for newborn boys in America, and the rest of the top 10 include Ethan, Michael, Joshua, Daniel, and Noah. (CNN)

- The roar of the Tiger Mom is still being heard around the world, and JTA has a nice round-up of the different responses Jewish parents have thrown into the mix, from one notoriously opinionated group of parents to another. We won’t even hold it against them that they forgot to include Kveller’s own response. (JTA)


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