Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen

How I Got My Name

In Uncategorized on August 25, 2014 at 4:27 pm

rosh hashana

It’s funny you should ask that question. I am an Ashkenazi Jew. We of the Ashkenazi name after the dead, whereas the Sephardic name after the living. Both are equal and have their own strengths. My Jewish name is Yisreal Yedah or Jeffrey J. I was named after my Zaddi’s (grandfather in Yiddish) brother, who was lost in the Holocaust. I think it is a brilliant tradition to name a child after the dead. You get a sense of immortality – like the deceased donor giving his organs to the living.

You have to remember that you are never really dead you are forgotten. By naming after the dead, you are always remembered. I remember talking to my Bubbi (grandmother in Yiddish). She was telling a story of how her firstborn son, Borichel, was killed as a three-year-old back in the country of Galicia, which exists no more. A horse and wagon ran over him when was running across the street to meet my granparents. He was my mother’s brother. He would have been my uncle. He would have been in his eighties with grandchildren of his own possibly. Alas, he remains a three-year-old for all of eternity.

I wanted to name my first son after him. My grandmother said no. Why? She said, “It didn’t bring him luck, so what makes you think it will bring your son any>?” So Borichel would remain dead, or so I thought.

I had dinner at an Orthodox Jewish home this past Purim. Going to shul, I overheard the mother of the home turn to her husband and say, “We have to find Borichel. We can’t leave without him. ” My ears could not believe what they had just heard. I said, “What? What did you say? About Borichel?’

She said he was her son, and that they could not leave without him. I smiled, and she looked at me strangely. “Why?” the woman asked.

I said it was a long a story and that I would tell her on the way over to the shul. I thought, “Thank God, Borichel has a name. He would no longer be a three-year-old. He would grow up to be a husband and father with grandchildren of his own.” Borichel lives!

-Jeff Rubin

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