Re: Unusual naming procedures #general

Judith Romney Wegner

At 12:20 PM +0100 8/20/06, Nick Rich wrote:
What really puzzles me is that the sons of Avram and Icyk both died
very young, and they then named a second son by the same name later
on. Clearly the Father was very dear to them, as each son was
determined to give the name to his son, but I always thought it
unlucky to give a brother the same name as one who died so young. I
then thought that maybe the Grand-Father Jaacov Moshe, was so
important in his community that it was a foregone conclusion that
each son was to name one of his sons the same name, but I have now
discovered that the original man was a carpenter.

Can anyone offer any suggestions as to why they would have chosen to
name in this way. This is just a matter of curiosity for me, but has
nagged at me for some time now. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Bearing in mind that naming taboos are just superstitions, and not a
matter of Jewish law, there seem to have been two schools of thought
on this matter. I too have discovered cases where a later-born child
was given the name of an earlier sibling who had died.

In general, following the Enlightenment, Western European Jews, with
a higher level of general education, seem to have abandoned the
naming superstitions that continued to be observed by Eastern
European communities. In my own Anglo-Dutch Jewish ancestry there
are many cases of children being named after the child's still-living
grandparents (though never for living parents -- which is of course a
common convention among gentiles. My family included numerous Johns
and Adelaides named for my great-grandparents during their lifetime.

The most fascinating instance of naming conventions in my family
relates to one of my great-uncles, who married twice during the
first decade of the 20th century. The first marriage was a
common-law union with a gentile woman -- no doubt because both
families adamantly opposed the marriage. This couple produced three
children -- two of whom were named John and Adelaide after my
great-uncle's still-living parents (who may not even have known of
their existence!) Later, my great-uncle contracted a legal
marriage with a Jewish woman. The eight children of that marriage
included a second Adelaide (born shortly after the death of her
grandmother Adelaide) and a second John (born shortly after the
death of his grandfather John).

Clearly, my great-uncle felt constrained to follow the custom of
naming these children after recently deceased grandparents -- even
though he already had two children >from the first union with those
names! If that fact was indeed concealed >from his second family,
failure to memorialize his parents via this virtually universal
Jewish naming convention might have been hard for him to explain.....

Judith Romney Wegner

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