Hold the Baby, Choose the Name

Reb Zalman says you should let a baby name itself.

My husband and I weren’t sure if we should wait until the day our daughter was born before we really settled on a name. We were deciding between Ayelet and Mika, the former we thought was pretty and the latter was a stripper in a trashy novel my husband was reading (in Hebrew!) at the time. And then she popped out, all squirmy and bloody and we looked at her and both agreed that this little creature was in fact a Mika.

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, also known as Reb Zalman, is considered one of the founders of the Jewish Renewal  movement. He also has some strong feelings about naming children. I’ll share them here since they’re in a real book(!) that an editor here recently came across while perusing for names for her baby to be.

I get concerned when I hear people say they have picked out a name for a baby without holding the child in their arms. People have ideas about names, but those names come from the head. It is important to consider the meaning of a name, and to choose one that will not have a troublesome nickname, but it is more important to let the child help make the decision.

You can talk to babies when they are still in the womb. They can hear you. You can tell them what names you are considering and ask them to let you know which on they prefer. Sometimes they will come to you in a dream and tell you.

When I named my son, I held him and recited the various names we had chosen. You might say I crooned them to him. When I felt  an energy response from him, I knew what name he wanted. It was Yotam.

From Hello, My Name is…A Guide to Naming Your Baby by Jeff Truman and Walter Bradley.

Deborah Kolben

Deborah Kolben is Editorial Director/Founding Editor of Kveller. She formerly covered education, crime, and real estate at the New York Daily News and The New York Sun before becoming  the city editor of The New York Sun and the managing editor of  the Village Voice.  She has also written for The New York TimesFinancial TimesThe Forward, and Jerusalem Report. She received a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University and received an Arthur F. Burns fellowship to report in Germany. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two daughters.

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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