Friday, May 10, 2013

What's in a name?

This past weekend was truly fun and memorable. We celebrated the naming of our 2nd daughter with friends and families and our community. The entire weekend was spent celebrating Maya, and formally giving Maya her Hebrew and secular names while our friends expressed their wishes for her. Since many of our families could not make it to the simchat bat, let me share the meaning and reasoning behind choosing her name. (Shoutout to our family & friends: if you are wondering about how we chose Tamar's name, pick up the phone, and we'd gladly tell you about it.)


"Meet Maya Emie Young Silverman. Her Hebrew name is Maayan Rivkah bat Eliyahu Asher (hubby's Hebrew name) v’ Chava Eliora (my Hebrew name).

We chose the name Maya because it is a word that is meaningful in both the Jewish and Filipino cultures. Maayan, Maya's Hebrew name means "spring". In the dry land of Israel, a spring is seen as a life-giving water, and as such, is often used to represent the bible with it's endless source of wisdom. So, the name Maya connotes thoughts of blessing, purity and renewal.

Maya was also the Philippine National bird when I was a child, until 1995, when it was changed to the Philippine Eagle, better known as the monkey-eating eagle. The President at that time decided to make the change because he thought that the regal Philippine Eagle more accurately reflected the nobility and majesty of the Filipino spirit. And yet… the Philippine Eagle is now endangered, while the diminutive Maya thrives. In my opinion, the tiny Maya better represents the Filipino spirit than the Philippine Eagle: small, sociable by nature, and resilient to changes and challenges posted by man and nature. Something we wish our little Maya would be like.

Emie. Our daughter is also named after my aunt Emie, or Tita Emie, who passed away in 2007. Tita Emie was my mom’s oldest sister. She did not have children of her own, but was a blessing to all her nieces and nephews. When she was alive, she lived here in the US and she supported many of her families back in the Philippines, making sure that they had food on their tables, clothes on their backs, and that the kids were able to attend school. She cared for us like her children. She walked with a quiet authority and wisdom; we never heard her raise her voice, and yet everyone listened when she spoke. When I went to graduate school in Florida, she was very concerned that I, fresh off the boat from the Philippines, would not know what to do. So, she flew with me and stayed with me for a couple of days to make sure that I had a bed and a phone set up, and that I knew how to, at the very least, cook rice. It was a sweet and motherly act. She was truly the most compassionate woman I have ever known.

Rivkah. Since my aunt was not Jewish, we chose Rivkah because of its sound and who Rivkah (Rebecca) is in the bible. And we couldn’t have chosen a more fitting name. Both women share the same strength and compassion. Rivkah, in the bible, is the wife of Yitzhak (Isaac). She gave water not only to Abraham’s servant, a stranger to her, but also to his camels, showing her kindness. She was a giving, selfless individual, and wise – if you are familiar with how the family saga unfolded.

So, Maya, may you be blessed with the selflessness, compassion, and wisdom as Rivkah and Tita Emie, the purity in spirit of the spring, and have the resilience and cheer of the maya bird. May every word you speak seem like a song and brighten the days of the people you meet."