Naming her

January 29, 2012 Comments Off on Naming her

Where did the name Zevi Makayla come from?

Since you asked, the answer is:

Joseph and I had great difficulty with selecting a name for our baby. We knew her first name would either begin with a P or F for the sound of Philip, in memory of my maternal grandfather, or the letter Z because we called him Zaddie, which is Yiddish for grandpa. To us, these felt like some of the most difficult letter choices, but when we didn’t know that we were having a girl, one of the names on our short list was Zev, which is Hebrew for wolf. Zev or Ze’ev is a very common boy’s name in Israel.

After we found out our baby is a girl, the name decision because so much more impossible because we had very few girl names chosen, let alone girl names that we absolutely loved. There is one first and middle name we had chosen for a favorite boy’s name and decided it might transfer to a girl, but we were nervous because it was very unusual and would certainly be a lot of uniqueness to put on another person. (I’m not going to say what it was, but for a while, it was our top choice.) Then Joseph was reading about the importance of baby namings in Jewish culture in Anita Diamant’s How to Raise a Jewish Child. When we talked about what he learned, Joseph told me that his favorite name had changed to Zevya. Joseph thought I had suggested Zevya to him, but the name had actually materialized from Joe’s imagination. We both liked Zevya a lot.

Zevya, which became our most-likely official baby name for several months, was a made-up name with absolutely no meaning, and lots of nicknames. If we decided to call her Zevia with an i, then she would have shared her name with an obscure Stevia Sweetened Zero Calorie drink, but that was not ever our intention.

About three weeks before I gave birth, I started calling Zevya Zevi a lot more and mentioned to Joe that it was pretty unlikely, as a big lover of nicknames and less girl-sounding names that I would actually use Zevya much, if at all. Joe thought about it and felt similarly. That’s when we realized we liked Zevi more. Zevi, which is a much rarer Hebrew name than Zev or Ze’ev, has two meanings, gazelle and glory. We were thrilled to finally have a name that we absolutely loved.

Choosing a middle name became another hurdle. For a while, we thought we’d let our baby choose her own middle name when she was old enough, but several people told me on different occasions that they felt a middle name is a gift that parents give. I became concerned as we approached my due date and had no real prospects in sight. We decided we wanted a name that was either one or three syllables and sounded rhythmic with Zevi. We tried to use a middle name generator online, a totally meaningless and unhelpful process. In the middle of the night, I finally thought of Makayla and woke Joseph to see if he liked it. He did and when I asked him again in the morning, he still did.

And so my friends, this is the story of Zevi Makayla’s naming process. In more ways than one, we labored down to the wire. Her name was kept secret until shortly before delivery when I announced it to my parents in the delivery room to help me bring Zevi into the material world. She’s here now, our Chinese New Year, dragon baby. January 23, 2012. Zevi Makayla, welcome home, beautiful gazelle.


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