Honoring a loved one in the Jewish religion? — The Bump
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Honoring a loved one in the Jewish religion?

I am full Jewish, but come from a family that is not very religious.  My father passed away mid June and I want to do something with my baby's name to honor him.  I didn't know how it worked, so I was planning on using my Father's middle name (Mark) if we had a boy.  (we are team green)  I was talking to my Mom last night and she asked me if now my name plans had changed due to my father's passing.  Then she said would you use it for a boy or a girl, and I said I can't use Mark for a girl.  She seemed a little offended and said that is not how it works, you do not use the person's name, but you use the letter of their first name, which would be an R.  

I had no idea!  For a boy we are all set, we changed Eli Joseph to Eli Raymond, for a girl we really only like Rachel, but I prefer it as a middle, it unfortunately doesn't go with a few first names we like.

Just wondering if anyone had any insight to the Jewish traditions.  Thanks! 

Re: Honoring a loved one in the Jewish religion?

  • As far as I know (I'm part Jewish on my Dad's side), your mom is correct. Typically you only honor relatives that have passed on, and you do it by using their first initial.

    Although, I think it's just as nice to use their actual name in the middle name position to honor them, it's just not the Jewish tradition.

    If I were you I'd chose whichever method of honor naming suits your family (and by that I mean, you and your husband and your new baby). If you want to use Mark as a middle name then use it. Or Raymond in the middle spot works too. Btw, I love Eli.

    Honestly, if your mom gets upset just try to remind her that you're still honoring your dad, even if you use his namesake in the middle name position.

    And as far as Rachel for a girl is concerned, it's lovely and the when it comes to a family honor name... flow isn't as important as using the honor name itself. So, even if you don't think Rachel pairs with your other choice for the first name, it's really not a problem. Hope this helps :)
    Vive Les Frasers
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  • Thank you so much for the reply, it was very helpful!

    Our last name starts with an R, so the flow might not be awesome, but my Mother in law's name is Robin with the R last name, so hey I guess it isn't too bad.  Plus, FIL's middle name is Raymond, so we would actually be honoring both sides.  It was FIL's father's name and it is also BIL's middle name.

    The only other R name I like is Rose, but my husband is not too keen on it.  He keeps saying it either reminds him of a flower or Rose from Titanic. LOL 

    We like Vivian for a first name.  Vivian Rachel with our 3 syllable last name seems very long to me.  

    I also read sometimes you can use a name that sounds like the loved one's name.  We love Ari, and that has a very hard R sound in it.  So that is also a possibility although maybe that would make my Mom upset... 
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  • So sorry for the loss of your father. I think naming after a passed relative is a beautiful tribute and a way to keep their memory going.

    My family also only uses the first letter of a name to honor deceased relatives, but never the exact name. I believe variations of the name are ok - for instance my cousin was named Ben (full name) after Benjamin - pretty much the same but not exact. I'm naming my daughter after my Bubby by using the same first letter.

    I've also read that some will use a name that carries the same meaning.

    The plus side is it really helps narrow down the name choices!
    BabyFruit Ticker
  • I'm not Jewish, but I have taught in a Jewish school for 18 years, and at this point I'm pretty knowledgeable about this kind of stuff.

    Ashkenazi (European) Jews generally name a baby after a deceased relative.  People who want to remain very traditional will give a baby the deceased person's first name.  People who want to honor this tradition, but also want to give a child a more modern name will give the child a similar name, use the deceased person's name as a middle name or Hebrew name, or just choose a name with the same first initial.  For instance, you might see a person name a child Sam instead of Shmuel.

    Sephardic (North African/Mediterranean) Jews usually name a baby after a living relative and rarely use the name of a deceased person.
    High School English teacher and mom of 2 kids:

    DD, born 9/06/00 -- 12th grade
    DS, born 8/25/04 -- 7th grade
  • I agree with Brita722. I think that you will honor your family member the way that you want to do it, whether that is with the religious traditions, or if you would just like to choose something else (like your dad's first name). And there are tons of girl names that start with "R", so if you cannot find something that you think flows well with Rachel, bust out that baby name book and see if there is something else that you both like. Who knows, there is a chance that Rose could grow on your husband between now and birth. I veto'ed a name when I was 14 weeks pregnant that my husband brought up, and it was never discussed again. We ended up giving it to her as a middle name when she was a few minutes old. 

    Here are some other ones off the top of my head....
    Ray <-- I normally wouldn't bring that one up, or the spelling. However, it would still cover the "R" for your dad, and "Ray" for your father in law.

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  • I grew up Jewish and in my family we do it either by using the same name or just the letter, especially to modernize if the name is kind of old-fashioned.

    If you can't decide on an English name to honor him, you could always honor him by using the first initial for the baby's Hebrew name, too.
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