Naming our Kids, Part IV: Zechariah Yehuda

So we arrive at the birth of our third, who we named Zechariah Yehuda. Ruchama wasn’t named for anyone, Raphi was named for my wife’s maternal grandfather, so the next one, all else being equal, would be named for someone from my family. In our family, there are many overlapping names. For example, my maternal grandfather had the same name as, yibadel le-chayim, my father-in-law. This limits the relatives who we could conceivably name after.

So we decided to name after my paternal grandfather, Rabbi Zev Yehuda (Leopold), whom I wrote about him here. The name Ze’ev didn’t really speak to us – as much of an X-Men fan as I am, wolves have a connotation of violence. And forget Leopold.

So we had chosen the name Yehuda, but wished to combine it with something to reflect our hopes and aspirations. Once again, a number of factors conspired to bring us to the name Zechariah.

Zechariah was the name of the prophet who prophesied about the rebuilding of the Second Temple, and the repopulation of Judea by Judeans. He ascended to Judea with Zerubabel’s campaign, and actually agitated for the Temple to be rebuilt. Given our impending Aliyah, the name Zechariah resonated with us.

Furthermore, the names Zechariah and Yehuda are linked. Zechariah the Prophet was the first to use the term ‘Yehudi’, and his homeland was Judea, or Yehuda, and it is about Yehuda that he prophesied. The Haftarah that we read (in chu”l) the morning our baby was born, we read from the Book of Zechariah and his prophecies concerning Yehuda, including this verse(2:16 – note also that one of the occurrences of the name ‘Bat-Zionas a metaphor for Jerusalem occurs two verses earlier, again linking our kids’ names):

And the LORD shall inherit Judah as His portion in the holy land, and shall choose Jerusalem again.

The two names together express a statement of faith/prayer, “God (has) remember(ed) Yehuda”, which reflect our own hopes and fears about settling there.

Finally, these two names, coincidentally or not, are names of two of the soldiers who were captured 24 years, almost to the day, before my son’s birth (20th Sivan 5742, 22nd Sivan 5766). I have had the good fortune of studying both at Kerem B’Yavneh, where Yehuda Katz was studying, and at Yeshivat Har Etzion, where Zachary Baumel was studying, where the memory of those bachurim and the hope for their return lives on.

We did not name after these MIAs, because we don’t name after the living. Rather, we felt we need to remember those who are in danger of being forgotten as we implore God to remember us. The dream of Shivat Zion comes in many forms, from the time of Zechariah until our own time. Tragically, just a few hours before our Zechariah Yehuda entered into Abraham’s covenant, and unbeknownst to us at the time, a name was added to the list of missing Israeli soldiers. And thus we continue to implore, “God, remember Yehuda!”

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