Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What’s in a name?

***Holy crap, I haven't published anything here since April?! How times flies! I would promise to be better, but I honestly don't know if I can keep that promise, so I'll just say I'll try***

It’s time to pick my Hebrew name. This is a huge deal for me. I want it to represent who I am, what I believe, and the journey I have been on for the last year. I don’t write this for opinions or votes (although don’t let that stop you from commenting if you want), rather to help me define how I feel about each of these names and hopefully feel my heart tug me towards one.

Yo’ana: Means “God has answered”. God always answers my prayers, spoken or not. He has always been there for me even when I didn’t know it or accept it. He has given me a new life in more ways than one. This name also makes me think of the Torah and God’s answer to His people’s cries through Moses. It makes me think of the covenant made between the people of Israel and God, and how by entering into that covenant as a Jew I am answering his call, just as he answered mine.

Yiska: This is apparently the Hebrew equivalent of Christina. Yiska was the sister of Lot in the Bible, more than that I don’t know about her. This is one of the most phonetically pleasing of the names I have chosen. It sounds Eastern European and reminds me of the Ashkenazi Jews who lived in the area where some of my family immigrated from. It makes me feel bound to the European Jews who perished in the Holocaust and reminds me that as a convert I am helping in a very small way to rebuild the people of Israel.

Chana: Means “Grace”; in the Bible, Chana was the mother of Samuel. Ah, I love the name Grace! To steal a quote from the internet: ‘Although there is no Christian notion of saving grace in Judaism, it is taught that God always offers even the most evil men the possibility of repentance (teshuva, "turning"). After such repentance one can atone for one's rebellion against God's ways by positive action.’ This makes me think of Yom Kippur and the Jewish tradition of asking God’s forgiveness for turning away from Him and trying to make the world a better place by making myself a better person. This notion of being a better person is one that has become very, very important to me in the last year! It brings in the concept of acceptance and the understanding that ‘I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as what needs to be changed in me and my attitudes.’

Chasya: Means “Protected by God”. This name is sort of a combination of Yo’ana and Yiska for me. It has much of the same connotations for me as Yo’ana but with a stronger focus on how God has protected me throughout my life and continues to do so. I don’t believe that God chooses to save people’s lives but at the same time I do believe that he has a plan for me and my children and has intervened at a couple of key moments to protect my soul. Phonetically this is one of my favorites too, with the same Eastern European feel as Yiska.

Cha’ya: Means “Alive, living” and is related to the name Chava. Living life to its fullest is my goal. Being the best person I can be, living a good life, are important to me. I have had many bouts of depression where I didn’t want to live but I have survived through them and really believe that life is a precious gift which shouldn’t be wasted.

Chava: Means “Life”; is the name in the Hebrew Bible for Eve. Pretty much the same as Cha’ya with the additional representation of my new life as a Jew.