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Playing the Name Game



Yesterday at the bris of  our grandson, after the mohel performed the ritual circumcision, we heard the name  announced.

The naming of Jewish babies is performed at the bris which is on the 8th day of the baby’s life.

Our son and dil named their child after my father-in-law.

One of the first decisions parents make when they have a child is the name. For each of our children, we made that decision, and now it was our own children’s turns. The parents decide what to name the child, put it on the birth certificate and keep it secret ( barring some leaking and hinting) from everyone else until the naming at the Bris.

But throughout that time, there is sometimes  a temptation for the grandparents (that would be me!) , i.e. the  parents of the adult children (me again!!)  to drop hints with opinions about what they think the name should be. Ahem! Obviously, this kind of commenting can add to the tension that is already in place when a new baby is born.

Me, I may have a big mouth regarding many topics, but regarding in-laws and names, I have to say I’m  pretty cool about it.  My motto has been for the past seven years since I became a Grandmother (can’t believe my oldest grandson is already in 2nd grade!)  and mother-in-law (to 3 wonderful young ladies)  is to refrain from interfering – especially regarding names (and plenty other things too!)


Truthfully, I believe that it is really none of my business to mix in to this decision. That’s one fo the many things I talk about on my blog and on my in-law website. I also discuss in-law relationship topics in my Grandmother book, which was published two years ago.  This kind of self-control is  all part and parcel of dealing with children-in-law in a positive manner.

So when our children had another baby boy last week, I tossed aside my expectations.

In our Jewish tradition, we often name after a family members. While Sephardic families name after the living, we, as Ashkenazik Jews have the custom of naming after the deceased.

Some background:

You see, my husband’s father had passed away almost 14 years ago, and none of our 4 other grandsons, ages 2 through 7 – has his name. One of my daughters’in-law’s own father has the same name as my father-in-law, so they consider it superstitious to use a name when her own father is still alive and well. And my other daughter-in-law named her first two children after her own grandfather and father, who recently died.

Come on, it’s been 14 years. I wanted my husband to have the pleasure of a little guy named for his father.

And at the rate we were going with boys in our family, I figured the next one will get my father’s name. So I could see both sides of the coin. On the one hand, it would be nice to have the little guy named after my dad. But on the other hand, I could understand the need to honor my father-in-law’s name.

So…when they named the baby today and called out his name, I thought:  How apropos!


All we want is Shalom - Peace!

All we want is Shalom – Peace!


Me? The one who preaches about being a nice mother-in-law? No way.  I understood. To me, the peace and love in a family that understands and respects the adult children’s decisions is more importatnt than what name is chosen.

I consider myself blessed to have children who thought things through  about what would be the most correct thing to do. They wanted to do something that would provide me comfort soon after my father’s passing, but yet they wanted to honor my father-in-law’s memory as well.

In the end, they chose well.

They chose the name that was meaningful for my mother-in-law who is still going strong at 94, and for my mother, who gave her blessing to them to do what they felt comfortable doing. (as my mom said, “My husband was one to give in to others, so it’s fitting that this was the choice…”)

I only hope the peace in our family will spread to peace in the world. We REALLY  need it.

Photos – courtesy of

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