I received the text while we were driving home from a morning bike ride.
Shalom Family and Friends,
Today we brought our newborn son אורי עדריאל URI ADRIEL (oo-ree, ah-dree-el) into the covenant of Avraham (the bris was very small/private). Thank G-d everyone is good health. We look forward to celebrating with you when things calm down.
They explained the Biblical origins of the names and helped me with the pronunciations. As a teacher, I always made it a point of saying students’ names correctly; I certainly need to say my new grandson’s name right!
I thought about names. I was one of four Lisas in my high school graduating class of 160. Named after my mother’s grandfather Louis, I was happy I hadn’t been a boy: I’d have been Lloyd Irving. I hated people asking me if my name was short for Elizabeth or if they called me Liza or Leeza.
My sister Madeline suffered similar humiliation when our Uncle Irving called her Maddie. Even as a little girl, she wasn’t afraid to express her feelings. He countered that he suffered being called “Irvala” growing up. Point taken, I guess. As adults we create diminutive forms of names that really are terms of endearment, not meant to embarrass.
The obstetrician who delivered our first son Jacob called him Jake before he cut the cord. I insisted on Jacob. He now calls himself Yaakov, the Hebrew variation.
I had to tell people that our second son’s name was Nathan, not Nathaniel, and never Nate. But he did love the “Nate the Great” books as a kid.
For my daughter, I knew I wanted the middle name Rose after my father’s mother. Three great- granddaughters share that middle name. I was stuck on her first name until I read it in the newspaper- a high school principal somewhere- and it went with Rose. She’s always correcting people who call her Linda or Laura or confuse the two of us.
Sandra Cisneros’ short essay “My Name” in The House on Mango Street describes the origin of a young girl’s name, Esperanza, and how the girl wishes it more “like the real me.” I used this often as writing prompt, asking students to write about their own names. Then I’d have them write their names backwards, creating a “super-hero,” and tell his or her story.
Names invariably suit the individual. Within seconds, I felt “Uri” fit the tiny person now in our lives. I hope he likes it too.