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Rocky_girl



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PostSubject: Hebrew name   Tue Jan 03, 2012 6:00 pm

From what I have read online, one part of conversion is choosing a Hebrew name. My Rabbi has not brought up this subject at all, even though we have made arrangements with the biet din and inquiries with the closest mikveh- 200 miles away. It seems like now would be the right time to do it.

Does this come later? Or should I bring it up myself?
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: Hebrew name   Tue Jan 03, 2012 6:57 pm

You can bring it up. Do you know what you want or do you need helping sorting through names?
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Mychal

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PostSubject: Re: Hebrew name   Tue Jan 03, 2012 7:22 pm

It was my understanding that you get your name when you convert. Maybe the Rabbi's just forgotten while worrying over the arrangements.
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tamar

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PostSubject: Re: Hebrew name   Tue Jan 03, 2012 8:56 pm

Rocky_girl wrote:
From what I have read online, one part of conversion is choosing a Hebrew name. My Rabbi has not brought up this subject at all, even though we have made arrangements with the biet din and inquiries with the closest mikveh- 200 miles away. It seems like now would be the right time to do it.

Does this come later? Or should I bring it up myself?


I spent much time choosing my Hebrew name. I have 2 Hebrew names. My children each have 2 also. They chose their first name and I chose their second. Each of the names mean something to them and to me. I wanted their names to speak to who they are as people and what I wanted for them as Jews. Our Shtar geirut (conversion certificates) have our hebrew names on them.

There are different customs between the Sephardi and Azhkanazi. I spent so much time thinking about Hebrew names and bought a book on Hebrew names. I talked to my Jewish friends. I asked my Rabbi what she thought and she gave me her thoughts on a Hebrew name for me. But I eventually chose my name because she saw the name in me. She saw me as a light and part of the light of the Jewish people. In some ways I saw the name as one of the most important parts of becoming Jewish.
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: Hebrew name   Tue Jan 03, 2012 9:26 pm

I spent very little time on my name. As soon as I saw Nechama, I knew it's what I wanted to add to my first name.

Rocky Girl, when do plan to go to the mikveh?
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Samantha

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PostSubject: Re: Hebrew name   Tue Jan 03, 2012 10:02 pm

I actually chose my Hebrew name well before I approached my rabbi with the intention to begin converting. It's the only one that's ever spoken to me on a personal level.
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Rocky_girl



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PostSubject: Re: Hebrew name   Tue Jan 03, 2012 10:52 pm

I will bring it up to her next time we meet. I would love to have help finding a name. My name is Angela if that helps... I like the name Deborah, because I had a mentor as a young woman with that name. But the story of Jael has always inspired me. I am really open to anything, though.

I plan to go to the mikveh in early February, but we haven't gotten the official okay from them yet.
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Mychal

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PostSubject: Re: Hebrew name   Wed Jan 04, 2012 4:08 pm

Tradtiional/Orthodox Jews seem to put more weight on a name than is customary in Western culture.

Children might be named after a relative (Ashkenazi will only name after a deceased relative, but Sephardim will name after a living relative--as a general rule) in the hopes that the child will be like that person. That's why it's an honor to have a child named after you--it means someone thought you did something right and wants their child to inherit your qualities.

Even when children aren't named after a relative, a name is still important for conferring certain qualities. A child might be named for a Biblical figure or famous Jew from history in the hopes of conferring that figures' qualities. Likewise the meaning of the name in Hebrew can be considered significant.

I have been considering Elisheva because it means "God is my vow." That speaks to me as a convert.

I read a story recently about a man who was in a coma. He wasn't getting any better, so at the behest of his family, a rabbi and his friends gathered at the Western Wall and gave him a new name. He miraculously got better.

It's not common to change someone's name like that anymore, but it underscores the belief that a person's name contains some part of their essence. In that case, the man was lingering and not getting better, so his name was changed to something significant (I don't remember the exact meaning) in the hopes that it would confer healing on him.

Actually, it's only modern Western culture that puts so little stock in a person's name. In the Illiad, Odysseus has the upper hand on the cyclops until he shouts his name; knowing his name, the cyclops is able to curse him. A name = personal power. In some cultures, it was customary to have two names--the one you used publicly and your "real" name, which only trusted people knew; it was thought that no one could curse or bewitch you unless they knew your real name, so that was guarded carefully.

Native Americans of all persuasions believe that a person can take on the qualities of the name they have, or that a name is a reflection of the person. Historically, it was not uncommon for a person to change their name when they underwent a life-altering event. They recognized you're not always the same person all the way through your life, and a different you requires a different name. (In the alternative, if you need to be a different you--if you wanted to break a cycle of self-destruction, for instance--you might preemptively change your name in the hopes that it moved you to change--just as the sick man's friends tried to do by giving him a new name).

You could Hebrewize your name or take on the name of "angel" in Hebrew (Malach is angel/messenger; Malachai is the male name; a little digging should bring up a female equivalent); nothing says you have to change it to something else entirely.
But if you're feeling like you're coming out of your conversion as a very different person, then you might consider a name which is not related to yours as all. Or, you might split the difference and take on the name of a specific angel; that gives you both a new identity while harkening back to the person you've always been.
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mikedoyleblogger

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PostSubject: Re: Hebrew name   Thu Jan 05, 2012 4:59 pm

You get to choose this name. After all, it's your name. Some rabbis bring it up earlier than others, but I don't think any rabbi expects to choose this name for you. That said, some rabbis might assume you know you need to choose a name, while others might be less on auto-pilot about it.

Either way, the fact that you're asking about it is a wonderful sign. There are many ways to choose your Hebrew name--you may want to Google the subject, there's a lot of advice out there. There's also great advice in Anita Diamant's "Choosing a Jewish Life" book. It's written from a non-Orthodox perspective (in case that's your stream of Judaism), but it contains pretty general advice.

Some communities have the custom to choose a Hebrew name based on the name of an ancestor (father, mother, grand-parent, etc.) Some people choose a name that starts with the same letter or sound as their given name. Some people choose a name based entirely on the meaning of the name and the meaning they've found in their conversion journey.

Some people choose ancient names from the Torah. Some choose modern Israeli names. And some choose more than one name. There are several online and printed (book) resources of Hebrew names for boys and girls, usually with Hebrew spelling, transliteration, and meaning. Seek them out.

Once you choose a name, you can tell your rabbi you've done so. He or she can argue the name with you, but your rabbi cannot deny you the name. Remember that last part.

Whatever you choose, your official "last name" will be, in full: Bat Avraham Avinu V'Sarah Imenu. ("Daughter of Abraham Our Father and Sarah Our Mother".) And as others have said, it won't be official until conversion, and it will be written on your conversion document.

Personally, I spent months considering a name on my own. I choose two names, Micha'el Ben-ami, and simply let my rabbi know what I had chosen. I chose Micha'el for my given name, Michael, which is already a Hebrew name, and I choose Ben-ami, meaning son of my people, which is how I feel about joining the Jewish people.

I'm also considering making Ben-ami my official secular middle name (currently I'm middle-named after a Catholic saint and I never use more than the initial.) But that's a whole other story ;-)
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Mychal

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PostSubject: Re: Hebrew name   Thu Jan 05, 2012 5:22 pm

Quote :
Whatever you choose, your official "last name" will be, in full: Bat Avraham Avinu V'Sarah Imenu.

I've heard that some people are starting to get away from this convention and are picking other names for last names. Some Reform rabbis will allow it, but I don't know about other denominations.

How many people here chose something else? Given the opportunity, I'd pick bat Yetro v'Rut. It's still a nod to my being a convert (Ruth and Jethro being the two most famous in the Bible), but without being so obvious. While I'm not ashamed to be a convert, I'm not terribly comfortable with the idea of essentially being known/introduced as Elisheva The Convert. I'd rather tell people I'm a convert if I choose.
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mikedoyleblogger

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PostSubject: Re: Hebrew name   Thu Jan 05, 2012 5:51 pm

I was never happy about needing to choose a name that didn't reflect my own parents/needing my name to reflect my conversion status. If I had my druthers, I would be Ben Carmen V'Angelo, and in that order.
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tamar

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PostSubject: Re: Hebrew name   Thu Jan 05, 2012 6:37 pm

My children converted after I did so they have my name as part of their name. I wish they could have their fathers name too.

I am Ora Li'el Bat Avraham V' Sara

They are:
Yoel Li'on Ben Avraham V' Ora Li'el

Shiri Liora Bat Avraham V' Ora Li'el

It shows they have a jewish parent.

What do you mean there are Rabbis that let you choose a different last name?


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Rocky_girl



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PostSubject: Re: Hebrew name   Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:24 pm

I have considered Arella, as it means 'angel, messenger' and sounds like my name. I have gone back and forth about whether to pick a name of someone I want to emulate, or to pick one that feels like me.

I am converting Reform, though I would prefer Conservative. There is only one congregation in my area. The next closest is about 200 miles away, where there is a Reform congregation and a Chabad House.

It seems as though the parentage part is left out of the name when the Rabbi calls people up for an aliyah, but perhaps I am missing it because it is said so quickly.
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mikedoyleblogger

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PostSubject: Re: Hebrew name   Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:41 pm

You may not be missing it--my Reform shul drops it out entirely and calls people up by their secular names.
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Rocky_girl



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PostSubject: Re: Hebrew name   Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:49 pm

Our President has 9 names so sometimes the rabbi just calls him up by his first one. He always teases her about it.
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: Hebrew name   Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:50 pm

Rocky_girl wrote:

It seems as though the parentage part is left out of the name when the Rabbi calls people up for an aliyah, but perhaps I am missing it because it is said so quickly.

I hear it said so quickly I barely catch it either but it's in there. I am surprised at how many people who are a bit older (60+) don't remember their Hebrew name or Hebrew middle name.
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esf

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PostSubject: Re: Hebrew name   Thu Jan 05, 2012 8:08 pm

tamar wrote:
My children converted after I did so they have my name as part of their name. I wish they could have their fathers name too.

I am Ora Li'el Bat Avraham V' Sara

They are:
Yoel Li'on Ben Avraham V' Ora Li'el

Shiri Liora Bat Avraham V' Ora Li'el

It shows they have a jewish parent.

What do you mean there are Rabbis that let you choose a different last name?



I was under the impression that children converting after their parents would still use Avraham and Sara as their hebrew 'last name', since they were not born of a Jewish parent. I guess this is something that varies between rabbis and different movements.
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: Hebrew name   Thu Jan 05, 2012 8:16 pm

tamar wrote:

What do you mean there are Rabbis that let you choose a different last name?

Instead of Avraham and Sara they let you choose someone else, someone who means something to you, spoke to you, mentored you, etc.
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Rocky_girl



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PostSubject: Re: Hebrew name   Thu Jan 05, 2012 8:25 pm

Quote :
Instead of Avraham and Sara they let you choose someone else, someone who means something to you, spoke to you, mentored you, etc.

This appeals to me. I could see using the name of a woman who has taught me what it means to be Jewish as if I were her daughter; It would be special to her as well because she has no daughter.
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: Hebrew name   Thu Jan 05, 2012 8:49 pm

Rocky_girl wrote:

This appeals to me. I could see using the name of a woman who has taught me what it means to be Jewish as if I were her daughter; It would be special to her as well because she has no daughter.

You'd have to talk to your Rabbi about it. I have heard of it but I don't know anyone who has done it so I'm not sure how it works. Your Rabbi may not agree with it.

Michael, do you know anyone who has used a different name?
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Rocky_girl



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PostSubject: Re: Hebrew name   Thu Jan 05, 2012 10:31 pm

I probably won't. It is my hope that my conversion would be accepted by the conservative movement if I ever move where there is a congregation. So, I wouldn't do anything that may jeopardize that.
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: Hebrew name   Thu Jan 05, 2012 10:50 pm

Rocky_girl wrote:
I probably won't. It is my hope that my conversion would be accepted by the conservative movement if I ever move where there is a congregation. So, I wouldn't do anything that may jeopardize that.

I wouldn't think the name would jeopardize being recognized by a Conservative congregation.
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tamar

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PostSubject: Re: Hebrew name   Thu Jan 05, 2012 11:32 pm

esf wrote:
tamar wrote:
My children converted after I did so they have my name as part of their name. I wish they could have their fathers name too.

I am Ora Li'el Bat Avraham V' Sara

They are:
Yoel Li'on Ben Avraham V' Ora Li'el

Shiri Liora Bat Avraham V' Ora Li'el

It shows they have a jewish parent.

What do you mean there are Rabbis that let you choose a different last name?



I was under the impression that children converting after their parents would still use Avraham and Sara as their hebrew 'last name', since they were not born of a Jewish parent. I guess this is something that varies between rabbis and different movements.


The Rabbis I know and the Rabbi I worked with said that when the parent converting goes into the mikveh first the children come next. When it is done that way the parent is Jewish and they can take the name of the Jewish parent. In adoption it is done this way too so the adopted child takes both his Jewish parents names.
The name shows Jewish parentage. In my shul the Hebrew names are always used to call one up for an aliyah.

It was really important to me that my children have my name since I am their mother and I am Jewish.

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Rocky_girl



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PostSubject: Re: Hebrew name   Thu Jan 05, 2012 11:55 pm

Hmmm. It doesn't hurt to ask, I guess. I need to think about one of my kids as well. The youngest is Nathan so he is good, but the oldest is Nicholas.
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tamar

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PostSubject: Re: Hebrew name   Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:03 am

Rocky_girl wrote:
Hmmm. It doesn't hurt to ask, I guess. I need to think about one of my kids as well. The youngest is Nathan so he is good, but the oldest is Nicholas.


My kids kept their secular names. They just have Hebrew names. Although my son has said a few times he wants to change his secular name to a more Jewish name. My husband wants him to be an adult before he makes that choice.

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