I ended up attending a baby naming ceremony recently “by accident.” I was there because I was meeting a friend for breakfast who attended the ceremony – and he dragged me along. Quite unexpectedly, I cried throughout it, as it prompted me to think about many of the great questions of life. Attending the baby-naming ceremony was a pleasant start to the day. A random happy event I was blessed to attend.
A young man I don’t know – with so much hope – celebrated the birth of his daughter and gave her a beautiful Jewish name. As he was called to the Torah, and recited the name amidst Carlebach style singing and dancing, his father, mother and mother-in-law were similarly crying. The child was named for the mother-in-law’s brother who had recently perished, and a cousin who was a Holocaust Survivor. I couldn’t help but think what a beautiful event it was for the Jewish people – and thank G-d that occasions like this happen every day all over the world.
It is a beautiful custom that so many in the Jewish community have, of naming a child after a relative who has passed away. It keeps the memory of that person alive – and it honors the deceased and the living.
Sitting there, I remembered the tears of joy I shed when my children were born, and the tears I still shed for my beloved mother, Penny Waga, who left this world only a few months ago and whom I miss so much. All of these things come full circle when a baby is named.
As the father of two daughters, one of my favorite stories (courtesy of Rabbi Nachman) is the story of a king who had a daughter and one day a prince came and he married her. When the prince wished to return to his country with his new wife the king said to him “the daughter you married is my daughter I cannot separate from her nor can I tell you not to take your wife. All I ask is one favor – make me a small chamber so I can reside with you since separating from my daughter isn’t an option.” This story reveals G-d’s love for his people – and in many ways describes the eternal connection the Jewish people have today with past generations of Jews.
We should wish all new-born children the customary priestly blessing for Jewish children which goes like this: “May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord deal kindly and graciously with you. May the Lord bestow His favor upon you and grant you peace.”
Ronn Torossian is a proud parent of great children, and the proud son of Penny Waga, of blessed memory. Follow him on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/RTorossian5wpr.