Hannah, names

The gift of a name and a parent’s sacrifice

All of our kids are in Jewish Day School.  Hannah is in Kindergarten.  This has been very important to us.  We have sacrificed new clothes, new cars, vacations, etc. to make this happen for all our children.  We basically still live like poor graduate students.  Days like today remind me why…..

Hannah’s class held a “naming ceremony” for all of the children and their parents.  This was a very moving (tear jerker) ceremony.   The children sang songs like:  “L’Dor Vador”, “Thank You God”, and “Shehecheyanu”.  The Rabbi spoke about the meaning in Judaism of one’s name.  And each child’s parents stood up and talked about the significance of the name they had chosen for them.  I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house!  Parents shared such intimate stories about their hopes and dreams for their child.  They told such tender stories about family members that the children where named after.  And they even just caressed their children so lovingly as they stood together and spoke  in front of the crowd.  Through my tears I kept thinking what an effect this will have on these little souls.  To hear themselves talked about in such a special way by their parents in front of teachers, family and friends.  It also bonded the parents together as we shared in the love of our children.  It reminded me that our sacrifice is nothing compared to the gain for our children.

I went back and found the letter I had written and read at Hannah’s naming ceremony when she was just 8 months old.  I knew I could not speak  “off the cuff” in such an emotional setting, so I read the letter again to Hannah.  I am so glad that this occasion created an opportunity for her to hear the loving words said about her and her name.  She can now understand them and remember.  It becomes a part of her inheritance.  Following is that letter:

March 18, 2007

Dear Hannah

When your Daddy and I first began to wish for children, we knew that it was possible this blessing would not be given to us.  But we asked anyway.  When we were blessed with your brother, Noah, we were quite amazed.  it took us 4 years to work up the courage to ask again.  And when we did, God blessed us with your sister, Micah.  We were overjoyed at God’s generosity.  We had done nothing to deserve such blessings.  We assumed we had tested the limits of G0d’s grace.  God had given us more than our share of blessings.  How could we possibly ask for more?

One day in shul, Rabbi Dan Sherbill told a story about a king with all the riches in the world.  This king had a son that was coming of age, and would soon come to his father to ask for his share of blessings.  The king was so looking forward to that day.  He had so much to give and all his son had to do was ask.  When that day finally arrived, the son came to his father the king.  But because he did not feel worthy, all he asked for was a nickel.  The king was so deeply disappointed.  This story stuck with me.

I realized I had it all wrong.  God’s blessings are limitless.  Not only can we ask, but it gives God great joy when we ask.  And there is nothing more valuable in all the world than our children.

So we began to ask.  My prayers were not done exactly right I am sure.  They were not even in Hebrew.  But they were from such a deep place of longing in my heart.  I prayed so hard sometimes I would cry.  I prayed at every stop light.  I prayed every time I woke up afraid in the middle of the night.  And when God answered yes, I prayed even harder.  I kept thinking about Hannah, mother of the prophet Samuel.  She prayed for a child.  She prayed so hard from deep within her heart that Eli the Kohen thought she was drunk.  Yet, God heard her and blessed her.

When God blessed us yet again, with you; you can imagine how great was our joy.  It seemed only fitting that your name become Hannah.  I felt the presence of our fore mother Hannah during my pregnancy, helping to guide me through my fears and doubts.  I hope that by naming you Hannah, you will have the deep faith of our fore mother to overcome your doubts and fears.  I hope that you will be able to pray from your heart to reach God and find your way.  And I hope that you will be able to ask for your share of blessings.

Wyatt is your middle name.  This is in honor and remembrance of your great grandmother, Nana.  Nana was really more than Daddy’s grandmother and your great grandmother.  She was leader and counselor to us all.  When I am not sure how to deal with a situation, I stop and ask myself……What would Nana have done?   It always becomes crystal clear which direction to take.  Her strength of character and integrity earned her the respect of everyone that knew her.  Her kindness towards others was bottomless.  Many things she had done for others, we did not know until she died.  So many people then came and shared with us the things Nana had done for them.  What I cherish about Daddy, I know he inherited from her.  I thank her for teaching him how to be such a wonderful leader of our family.

I wish for you Hannah (and your sister and brothers); Nana’s quiet strength, her deep well of kindness, her compass of right and wrong, and her true selflessness.

Hannah Wyatt Shaffer……………you must always know how much all of us love and adore you.

Love Mom


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