Author Topic: *Update #53, p.4* Mother wants to give my baby a Jewish Name  (Read 10570 times)

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Elisabunny

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Re: Mother wants to give my baby a Jewish Name
« Reply #30 on: June 10, 2013, 08:46:52 PM »
A friend of mine was subjected to something similar - her mother's family baptized her in absentia (Mormon) because her parents were non-religious and refused to have her baptized at all.  It still bothers my friend 20+ later, because she and her parents were absolutely powerless to stop it - even though it doesn't "mean" something to them in the religious sense, it meant something to her grandparents and they keep thinking they "won."

If I were you, I would be very clear that your daughter is NOT going to have a Jewish name, unless she later in life decides to convert and chooses one for herself.  And if your mother is unable to address your daughter by the name that you choose for her, your mother won't get to see her granddaughter very much for a long time.  There's no need to subject your daughter to the kind of confusion she'd face if her grandma insisted on calling her one thing and her family another - and that's not even taking into consideration the possibility that your mother might take it a step further and try to introduce religion in ways you don't approve of.
Wait what? I was raised Mormon and only baptisms in absentia are done on the dead. The living still have a chance to find the truth and must make that decision themselves after age 8. IIRC, there's a baptismal certificate that has to be signed by the person being baptized, the person performing the baptism and two witnesses.

As an aside, Mormons have a name and blessing for babies as well.I had to fill out paperwork for the church specifying my children's given names for their records. Is it the same with Jewish namings? Might Grandma be the type to forge that paperwork?

Eta: just asked my much-more-Mormon-than-I-am brother and he confirmed my thought on proxy baptism in the Mormon church. Which is a relief because I can name the family members who are going to have a fit this fall when DD turns 8 and isn't baptized.

I'm not Mormon, so I only know what my friend told me.  Her maternal grandparents had her name entered into a book of some kind as baptized when she was an infant, because "they couldn't count on her mother to do it properly."  My friend grew up in her father's religion.

Well, if she was an infant, than she definitely was not baptized, because that doesn't happen until a kid is at least 8 years old.  My guess is that as the daughter of a baptized Mormon, her grandparents were able to get her on church rolls as a "child of record."  It would have only been in effect until she was 9 years old.  The grandfather may have also given her a naming blessing, which would have been recorded on church rolls, but it's really more of a family thing that doesn't have any effect on her salvation.  So you can tell your friend, her grandparents may be obnoxious, but she's almost certainly not an official Mormon. ;)

You must remember this: a ghoti is still a fish...

Piratelvr1121

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Re: Mother wants to give my baby a Jewish Name
« Reply #31 on: June 10, 2013, 09:03:49 PM »
I'm Jewish, and what your mother proposes to do would be very odd in my (conservative) synagogue. Boys have a bris (circumcision ritual, usually involves some prayer, the circumcision, and a celebratory luncheon), and girls have a naming. Children are given a Hebrew name, which is used when they participate in services. You have to be 'called up' to read the Torah or participate in other ways, and the Hebrew name is used for such an occasion. Kids are generally not referred to by their Hebrew names at any other time.

I have never attended a naming where the child was present, and I don't think that most synagogues would do such a thing. It's supposed to be a joyous celebratory event, and is a kind of a first introduction of the child into the community. It makes little sense to have one without the child present, or without the child's parents present. It's not a baptism, in that there is no 'saving of the soul' aspect to a naming, nor is there any 'this child is definitely Jewish!' claim about the ceremony. (Jews believe that a child born to a Jewish mother is Jewish, so most Jews would consider your child Jewish 'by birth.' The naming has no bearing on that.)

What your mother proposes to do is odd, and I doubt any synagogue would do it. I would simply state that you are not religious, and your child has no need for a Hebrew name. From there on out, I would simply ignore your mom when she brings it up.

Since you seem to have a deeper knowledge on the subject, I thought I'd ask -  would parents or grandparents get congratulated at this event at all?  I'm wondering if this desire to name the child stems from OP's mom's desire to get the same spotlight moment on her family and herself as her friends have gotten when their children/grandchildren were named.

I can imagine a grandparent being a part of a naming, but as cicero said, usually at least one of the parents are there. What makes the scenario less likely is that the OP said that her mom was not a regular member at any synagogue, meaning that it is not likely that she has a big social group at any particular congregation. Most people do not want to celebrate with a bunch of strangers... that's why I find the whole thing so strange. I can see how, if you believe that a baptism will ward off some bad juju/save the baby's soul/whathaveyou, you might really want a baby to have it, but there's no such aspect to a Jewish naming. So, if there's no social reason and there's no spiritual reason...I'm not sure what's behind grandma's desire to have this event.

Familial pressure? OP is your grandmother still around?  My parents were both cradle Catholics, attended Catholic school up til 8th grade I believe and then I know my mother attended a secular high school but I'm sure my dad attended a Catholic one.  Neither of my parents are all that religious.  My brother and I were put through the paces to receive the sacraments up to confirmation.   When I was confirmed I had to choose a saint and asked my mother for advice and was told "Just pick a name, chances are there's a saint by that name."   When my brother was confirmed he had to write a paper of some sort.   He put a lot of thought into it but our father said "It's not that big a deal, stop getting so serious about it."   We did go to church weekly but I think that was mainly because children going through religious education that was required for the sacraments also had to attend weekly. 

Anyway, my paternal grandmother, devout as she was really didn't care what religion her grandchildren were raised in, but my maternal grandmother did.  I mean she even pushed my grandfather to get baptized by her priest because she was certain that if he was baptized any other way he wouldn't be with her in heaven.

My point is I'm pretty sure my brother and I were only baptized, taken to church regularly and put through the sacraments, was to placate my grandmother, and maybe that's why OP's mother is doing it. 
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars.  You have a right to be here. Be cheerful, strive to be happy. -Desiderata

m2kbug

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Re: Mother wants to give my baby a Jewish Name
« Reply #32 on: June 11, 2013, 12:34:53 AM »
This one is a real deal breaker for me.  You need to be very solid and firm about your decisions as parents and that it will affect your ability to trust her in the future to the point you will not allow unsupervised visits...I've seen families completely disowning a parent over this type of behavior.  It would seriously cross my mind.  I do agree that if there is anyone you can talk to about this in her faith system (the Rabbi or whomever), I would definitely do so. 

Bottom line, she got to raise her babies the way she wanted, now you get to raise your babies the same. 

Geekychick1984

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Re: Mother wants to give my baby a Jewish Name
« Reply #33 on: June 11, 2013, 06:27:52 AM »
OP here again.  Thank you for all of the responses.  I feel better knowing I'm not wrong to be perturbed.  I'm going to have a sincere talk with my mom someday this week about how I sincerely feel like she is stomping on my boundaries as a parent.

For some more background I thought about as I read some of the comments here: My mom was in a bad car crash about 2 months ago (I posted an "I need a hug" post at the time).  She swears her grandmother saved her.  Her grandmother was the matriarch of the family who upheld all of the Jewish religions, and when she passed, my mom stopped being involved with her religion.  She also didn't have much of a relationship with her cousins, who are all still very active in their faith.  She was already rebuilding relationships with them prior to the accident, but now she's determined to become active in her faith again and closer to her cousins.  I support this, of course, but I've made it clear that I will not be joining her in these activities.  I think she now sees herself as her grandmother - the matriarch of the family (which I will not go along with - I am the matriarch of my immediate family).  She wants my daughter to call her Bubbe, which is Yiddish for grandmother, and what she called her grandmother. 

Based on the above, I think that's why mom feels so strongly about this tradition. I don't think it's right for her to use my child to reclaim her faith.

Also, we live several states away, so she can't just take my daughter tot he synagogue behind my back - definitely no concern there.

Once again, I appreciate all of your comments, and I will update once I am able to talk to my mom.

bopper

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Re: Mother wants to give my baby a Jewish Name
« Reply #34 on: June 11, 2013, 08:31:27 AM »
Most likely your mom's goal is to share her religion with her new grandchild as she has renewed fervor and realizes she has missed the boat with you.

Perhaps you could talk to your mom:

"Mom, by telling me you are going to give my baby a Jewish name you are indicating two things to me. One is that you want to share your Jewish religion with the baby.  But another is that you don't really care what we as parents have to say about it.  I advise you to tread very carefully...we want to be able to trust you regarding our wishes for the baby. If you don't listen to us about this, can we trust you to use a car seat?"

I am not sure what your feelings are on your mom explaining some aspects of the Judiasm to your child in the future. If you are open to some exposure:

"Mom, I can understand you want to share some aspects of Judiasm with your grandchild.  Giving him/her a Jewish name against our wishes is not the way to do it.  Sending some Hamentashen and explaining the story, sending some macaroons and telling why you don't eat leavened food during Passover, showing pictures of your Sukkot and explaining why you built it are acceptable to us."

I think she has every right to pick the name she would like to be called...Bubbe is fine.

lowspark

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Re: Mother wants to give my baby a Jewish Name
« Reply #35 on: June 11, 2013, 08:55:08 AM »

If someone asks GeekyChick1984's mom what her grandchild's Jewish name is, she may be embarrassed at having to explain why the child does not have one. It sounds like she is prepared to lie if she has to (give the child a name without a ceremony).

I snipped the quote above to that short bit because I'm guessing that is exactly what is happening here.

In my experience, unless you belong to a synagogue, in other words, a paid member, even the parents of a baby can't just show up to services one fine Saturday morning and say, "please do a baby naming ceremony for us." Maybe they could go to the rabbi in advance to make specific arrangements. But the grandparent showing up with a baby without the parents present? I simply cannot imagine any rabbi honoring this kind of request. It's just too out of the ordinary. The rabbi would almost certainly need to chat with the parents before doing this kind of thing.

Anyway, as others have said, the naming doesn't do anything except, well, give the baby a name. It doesn't make the baby Jewish (as PP said, baby is considered Jewish automatically by virtue of being born to a Jewish mother) and it doesn't make the baby a member of anything. And really, the naming in the synagogue is more just a formality. Parents can grant a baby a Hebrew name simply by stating that xxx is the baby's Hebrew name. It doesn't actually have to be written on any certificate nor does an official ceremony actually have to take place.

So it sounds like the OP's mom is just going to announce that the baby's Hebrew name is xxx -- sort of to whomever will listen. She probably hopes she can somehow convince you to have the child participate in Jewish rituals later and at that time she'll be able to say the Hebrew name is xxx.

So, there's really little you can do to stop her from telling people the Hebrew name she's chosen if she actually does so. At this point, there's no harm in it except the harm she is causing by not respecting your wishes and your boundaries.

Since she lives far away, it sounds like you'll keep control over visits between your child and her. What I would be wary of is the possibility of her trying to teach her religion against your will. But since this accident which is causing her new-found religion happened so recently, it might very well fade out by the time your child is actually old enough for that sort of thing to matter.

Pen^2

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Re: Mother wants to give my baby a Jewish Name
« Reply #36 on: June 11, 2013, 09:10:24 AM »
There's really little you can do to stop her from telling people the Hebrew name she's chosen if she actually does so. At this point, there's no harm in it except the harm she is causing by not respecting your wishes and your boundaries.

Since she lives far away, it sounds like you'll keep control over visits between your child and her. What I would be wary of is the possibility of her trying to teach her religion against your will. But since this accident which is causing her new-found religion happened so recently, it might very well fade out by the time your child is actually old enough for that sort of thing to matter.

Absolutely. Sit down and talk with your mother like you have planned, OP. Let her know that this isn't about religion but about her not respecting your boundaries. And that, despite what she may plea, if she is so easily willing to ignore you on something like this just because she doesn't see it as importantly as you do (calling your child the correct name), then you see no reason why she won't ignore you on other things that the two of you see at different levels of importance, like car seats.

If she disagrees, then you really do have a problem. I think no alone-time with your daughter would be an obvious minimum. Who knows what else she might decide to do one day. And I wouldn't be shy at correcting her in public--interrupt if needed to correct her on using the incorrect name. Because if she makes it clear that she isn't going to respect you in this, then the last thing you want is your daughter growing up identifying with the name. Instant correction. The name on the birth certificate--determined by the parents--is not something she should ignore because she feels that she knows better. By naming your daughter 'X' you are making a legal statement that you wish for her to be addressed as 'X'. To refer to her as something completely different is very dismissive of your legal role as parents.

She has the right to call your child what she wants, but you have the right to protect your child from the influence of a woman who is disrespectful, confusingly calls her the wrong name, and has proven herself an unreliable caregiver when it comes to the wishes of the parents.

A nice nick name between two relatives is one thing; giving an infant a name against the will of her parent as a means of furthering a new-found faith is something quite different. OP, I really hope your mother is open to listening to you, because otherwise your daughter might not see much of her grandmother growing up.

Geekychick1984

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Re: Mother wants to give my baby a Jewish Name
« Reply #37 on: June 11, 2013, 09:12:30 AM »
"I think she has every right to pick the name she would like to be called...Bubbe is fine."

We think Bubbe sounds stupid.  I know it's a heritage thing, but we actually don't like any "cutesy" baby-talk nicknames for grandparents, just grandma and grandpa.  If our kids come up with any on their own that's fine, but we're just not a fan of it.  We also don't plan on allowing baby talk, but that's another story on its own.

"Since she lives far away, it sounds like you'll keep control over visits between your child and her. What I would be wary of is the possibility of her trying to teach her religion against your will. But since this accident which is causing her new-found religion happened so recently, it might very well fade out by the time your child is actually old enough for that sort of thing to matter."

I hope so.  I actually have a Jewish studies minor becuase I was curious about my mom's heritage (I guess we just nevercovered the naming ritual).  I don't mind my kids learning about Judaism from a cultural standpoint, in kind of an anthropoloical studying another culture kind of way.

scotcat60

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Re: Mother wants to give my baby a Jewish Name
« Reply #38 on: June 11, 2013, 09:16:16 AM »
I believe from what a Jewish college friend told me that in Judaism you do not give a child the same name as a living relative. Tell you Mum that DH has a cousin several times removed by the same name so you can't possibly use it. Although she'd probably just change the name, if she's so set on it. otherwise I'm with the other posters. Your child, your choice.

learningtofly

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Re: Mother wants to give my baby a Jewish Name
« Reply #39 on: June 11, 2013, 09:30:04 AM »
Oy.  A pushy Bubbe.  Who could ever think of such a thing?  Sounds funnier with the accent in my head  :P

Naming ceremonies can be done at the home or in the synagogue.  All you need is a rabbi, a kid, and a name.  A little something to nosh on never hurt.  But I've never seen a rabbi do it without the parents consent.  Your mom going back to her faith and reconnecting with these cousins is wonderful for her.  But I think it's contributing to the "all of my cousins grandkids were named.  My grandaughter must be named!"  She probably will be embarrassed when her cousins ask for the baby Hebrew's name and there is none.  However, this is not your problem. 


Rose

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Re: Mother wants to give my baby a Jewish Name
« Reply #40 on: June 11, 2013, 11:59:00 AM »
Zizi-K was spot on.

I am Jewish and a bubbe and I can't imagine not respecting your boundaries in this situation.  If you really want to be sure I'd place a call to your mother's Rabbi. 

m2kbug

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Re: Mother wants to give my baby a Jewish Name
« Reply #41 on: June 11, 2013, 12:25:02 PM »
"I think she has every right to pick the name she would like to be called...Bubbe is fine."

We think Bubbe sounds stupid.  I know it's a heritage thing, but we actually don't like any "cutesy" baby-talk nicknames for grandparents, just grandma and grandpa.  If our kids come up with any on their own that's fine, but we're just not a fan of it.  We also don't plan on allowing baby talk, but that's another story on its own.

"Since she lives far away, it sounds like you'll keep control over visits between your child and her. What I would be wary of is the possibility of her trying to teach her religion against your will. But since this accident which is causing her new-found religion happened so recently, it might very well fade out by the time your child is actually old enough for that sort of thing to matter."

My mother came up with a few she wanted.  I definitely could not encourage a couple of them.  Personally, I think it's better if the name evolves from child and something might just evolve from you.   

I'm going to agree with the previous poster that you need to establish boundaries on religious education if she becomes "over the top" in her zealousness.  It's one thing to explain certain traditions and another thing entirely to present right/wrong or take over the religious education of your children since you clearly aren't doing it.  You have a few years to figure this one out, but I have heard of some nightmare stories in this area, so pay attention to this. 


mime

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Re: Mother wants to give my baby a Jewish Name
« Reply #42 on: June 11, 2013, 12:35:31 PM »
Oy.  A pushy Bubbe.  Who could ever think of such a thing?  Sounds funnier with the accent in my head  :P

Naming ceremonies can be done at the home or in the synagogue.  All you need is a rabbi, a kid, and a name.  A little something to nosh on never hurt.  But I've never seen a rabbi do it without the parents consent.  Your mom going back to her faith and reconnecting with these cousins is wonderful for her.  But I think it's contributing to the "all of my cousins grandkids were named.  My grandaughter must be named!"  She probably will be embarrassed when her cousins ask for the baby Hebrew's name and there is none.  However, this is not your problem.

This really makes sense to me-- my ILs (and my parents, but to a lesser extent) had trouble with our choice to not have our kids baptized until they choose it themselves. It seems to be a point of embarassment that these grandkids had no celebration of baptism and have no Godparents.

That is for them to deal with, though. Forcing their practice on us would not only be unaccetpable, but would have been a very divisive act in our family, destroying trust, and causing us to severely limit contact with anyone who would be so disrespectful of our beliefs.

If this is an issue in the future, correcting your mother in front of your daughter is important. Your daughter will have a name that she should be called. You have beliefs that should be respected. Standing up for both of these in your daughter's presence, even against a loved one, will teach her by example that she has the right to do the same.


Yentush

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Re: Mother wants to give my baby a Jewish Name
« Reply #43 on: June 11, 2013, 02:36:04 PM »
Okay, your mother can do what ever she pleases.  HOWEVER, a girls name is given when the FATHER goes up for the Torah (the Old Testament) reading.  this is usually done on Saturday, which is the Jewish Sabbath, but there are also Torah readings on Mondays and Thursdays.

Only a parent can name the child.  Your mother can wish all she wants, but it has no standing in Jewish law.

Oh Joy

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Re: Mother wants to give my baby a Jewish Name
« Reply #44 on: June 11, 2013, 02:58:06 PM »
My mother is Jewish, but my DH and I are atheists.  She wants to give my daughter, due in September, a Jewish name (a religious custom in the Jewish religion).  I don't want her to do this.  I feel like it is stomping on my beliefs, which is that we won't practice anything non-secular in my house.  I told her to me, this would be similar to my in-laws christening her without our consent (which they would never do).  She is still insisting she wants to do this, as it's the custom in her family. My daughter does not have to be present for this BTW.

Also, my DH is irritated too, as he sees this as a control thing (I can see that too - my mom likes to be in control). 

I know I can't physically stop her from doing this.  Besides repetitively letting her know that this is ticking us both off, how should I handle this?  Is it OK for me to tell her in the future when she uses the hebrew name she picked out that this is not my daughter's name, even in front of my daughter? She's already using part of the hebrew name she picked out when she talks about my daughter (i.e., the second part of the name is Leia, so my mom has been calling her princess Leia).

You and your DH get to decide 100% of your child's religious upbringing.  I am in full support.

Now please don't misconstrue this as JADe-ing to your mother or catering to her desire to control, but instead of your reacting by being ticked off, can you respond to her underlying purpose?  If it's about the custom, as she says, is there another custom or a new custom to focus on?  If she's doing it for your DD's salvation, thank her for caring but ask that she respect your and your DH's choices for your family until she's old enough to make her own choices.  If she wants attention as a new grandmother, ask if she'd like to host a tea for her friends where you bring the little bundle for them to admire.  A shifted focus might benefit everyone, KWIM?

If she's such a bull that she insists on a different name, I'd simply dismissively state the child's actual name whenever she uses it, and move on almost as if it wasn't used.

Best wishes.

P.S. - Reading posts like this renew my gratitude that none of DH's or my relatives interfere with our children's secular upbringing!