When you have a child, the weight of the world is on your shoulders. Amid the physical issues of labor, exhaustion, learning the child and so much more, is the awesome responsibility of the first few days. You will be making a decision that will effect that child’s life, every single day. They will carry your burden and your joy with them everywhere, every second. It is their name, how they are called.
Do you go with the common or the unusual? Do you put the weight of generations on the child or give him/her a path of her own? As a parent, you count syllables, mix and match, check initials, and finally you make a decision and always, the name you give is the name that was intended for this child, the joy and the burden theirs to carry.
I have been blessed with five children. Among them, three carry the names of relatives who died in the Holocaust and the other two carry the names of survivors. But more, they carry on the legacy of those for whom they were named.
When you have a grandchild, the weight of the world rests on the shoulders of his or her parent. We get to cuddle; we get to love. Too often, we spoil as if it is our right to do so…and perhaps to some extent, it is. Our roles are so different – and it is the difference that helps make it so special.
When a grandchild is born, you might be asked for names of relatives, but the choice is not yours to make. You sit and you wait and if you are blessed, as I have been each time, you accept…and more, you love, the choices your children make. I have loved each name, as I love each child and as of yesterday at 4:26 p.m., I have another grandchild to love.
One of the first relatives on my husband’s side that I met outside of his immediate family, was Uncle Yidu (z”l), who was married to Chaya (z”l). There were married for more than 60 years until Chaya passed away and then we lost Yidu.
Yidu is short for Yehuda, which means, “Praised”. Yidu belonged to the Satmar Hasidic sect and sadly, he and his wife, both Holocaust survivors, were never blessed with children. All of the times that I met Yidu, he showed me nothing but respect and affection. He never hesitated to speak to me, to ask about my children. His wife was so sweet and was always smiling. They were very special together and in their deaths, they willed gifts to each of the children of their siblings, as they would have given to their own children.
Odelia means, “I will praise God.” She was born this past Shabbat. And named just over an hour later – unusual, but amazing. Her name is Odelia Rose and she is precious and gorgeous – and yes, I’m a bit prejudiced. I can’t share her picture, as her parents are very correctly private with images of their children, but I can share her name.
Last week, I attended a professional conference in Germany. A day after I returned home, my fifth grandchild was born. Most of my grandchildren carry two names that blend our family with the family into which our children married. Libya. Iran. The United States. Each is tied to generations that came before us. Grandfathers no longer with us, a child murdered during the Holocaust and thus never blessed to have seen a family and children of her own. Little Odelia carries on that tradition. Odelia Rose – Odelia for a man never blessed to have had children but one who loved his family and the legacy left to him by his own parents. Rose, my daughter-in-law’s beloved grandmother who passed away a year ago.
Each year, life brings our family and our country new blessings. For this, Odelia – I will praise and thank God. For the gift of children, for the gift of grandchildren. For life in this beautiful country.
And a Private Note About a New Grandchild
Mazel tov to my wonderful children – Elie and Lauren – on the birth or your beautiful child. Mazel tov to my precious Michali on the birth of your sister. Mazel tov to my beloved husband and to Odelia’s wonderful grandparents in the US (looking forward to your coming to visit) and mazel tov to the siblings of both Elie and Lauren on the birth of your latest niece. May she grow in strength, always blessed, always praised, always loved.