Thursday, July 16, 2015

Introducing Yaniv Shmuel Pritzker

If you spoke to me at all during this pregnancy, you know that we had a very hard time coming up with boy's names. We knew we wanted to name our little boy after Menachem's grandfather, Samuel, but had trouble coming up with a first name that would fit the following criteria:

  • No "resh" or "het" or "chaf" -- hard to say for us Anglos in Israel.
  • Not too popular. If you grew up as one of 3 Sarah's in a class of 12, you'd understand.
  • It can't sound like an English word that's unpleasant. Like, "Alon" is a very nice Israeli name, but "alone" isn't what you'd want to name your kid. Same goes for Shai/Shy.
  • Must pass the Native Israeli check. I really liked the name Golan, but my Israeli friends told me that it's a sleazy name. 
What I really wanted, was to name my kid Geshem, which means rain. I love the rain, and in Israel, rain is a big blessing. Plus, I really liked the ring to it. But, alas, Geshem is just not a name. Apparently, neither is Anan (cloud) or Arafel (fog). And one of us just wasn't interested in naming our son after dark and stormy weather (not saying which one of us).

Yaniv wasn't on our list at all, until the shabbat before he was born when my niece Eden suggested it. I had heard the name before, but it wasn't until she said it in her perfect Hebrew that it really clicked. I loved playing the "What's wrong with this name?" game, but when she said Yaniv, I was stumped! Not only was there simply nothing wrong with it, but I actually liked it. Loved it, even. And so did Menachem. 

Here are some reasons why:
  • Yaniv rhymes with magniv, which means cool or awesome in Hebrew. 
  • Yaniv rhymes with Aviv (which happens to be Meira's middle name) which means Spring. Yaniv was born in the Spring, on Pesach, which is known as Hag Ha'aviv, the Spring Holiday. 
  • Yaniv doesn't have a resh, het, or chaf in it, is easy to pronounce as an American living in Israel, isn't too popular, and is an actual name.
But the main reason was this:

Yaniv means "he shall produce" or "he shall be productive," referring not to ticking things off your to-do list, but more in an agricultural sense. If you wanted to say "the tree produces fruit," you'd use the word "yaniv" there. And what do trees need in order to produce fruit? They need rain.

We also wanted a name that related to the land of Israel. When I did the Israeli check part of our name search, my friend first explained what the name meant literally, and then added that Yaniv is a true Zionist name -- that it doesn't just relate to trees bearing fruit, but that it relates specifically to the productivity, growth, and success of the Land of Israel. I was sold.

A few words about Shmuel...

Sam, Menachem's maternal grandfather, died many many years before Menachem was born. He never knew him in person, but grew up surrounded by the legend of his grandfather, a generous, gentle, intelligent man. He also, I'm told, had absolutely gigantic feet. We named our son after Zaide Sam with hopes that he fill those shoes and walk in the righteous path of his grandfather. 

Sam was also the name of one of my mother's uncles, a "beloved uncle," as she refers to him, and another ancestor that I never had the privilege of meeting. 

It's our wish that our son embody the characters of these special people, and that he becomes productive and successful here in the Land of Israel. 

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