It’s a silly title because Elie isn’t really a soldier anymore. He is – or will be – when his country needs him and for about a month a year, when the country calls him to train and be prepared.
But mostly, he’s a husband, a son, a student, a security guard, a friend, a brother, a grandson, nephew, and cousin. And, a few days ago, he became a father, so I hope, given the name of the blog, he’ll forgive me for the silly title…I couldn’t resist.
I’ve been waiting to make this post, trying to decide what and how much. Let’s start with the amazing, and the obvious, given the title – Elie and his wife Lauren have a daughter. She is precious and cute and tiny (she was born at the fine weight of 2.8 kilo… it’s just she looks so tiny to me). I had a chance to hold her only once – they haven’t even come home from the hospital, though I am hoping it will be today.
I can’t post pictures – Amira and Haim didn’t want pictures of their son on the Internet and with all I hear, I agree. Elie and Lauren feel the same way and I’m proud of their decision. I asked if I could post a picture of the baby’s hand…actually, I haven’t even seen her hand yet (she was all wrapped up adorably when I got to see and hold her) but that would be the most that I would post. The world can be a terrible place and it is now Elie and Lauren’s job to protect their precious child.
When Amira and Haim named their son – they honored both families by taking one name from each side. They honored the Sephardi custom of giving their son the name of one grandfather (still living, B”H) and honored the Ashkenazi custom of giving their son the name of a relative who has passed away – in this case, the baby’s grandfather’s father.
Months ago, Elie and Lauren asked us for names of relatives. As Amira said recently, there are planners in the world, and scramblers. I’m a scrambler – proudly inheriting the ability to shove the broom in the closet and put a smile on my face as the first guest walks through the door. I inherited this from my mother (though to be fair, she has turned into a planner as she’s gotten older and I’m hoping I will too), and Amira has inherited this from me.
Those who plan – as Lauren does (she inherited it from her mother who is, without question, the most organized woman in the world and I’m hoping that with more contact, I’ll inherit some of Barbara’s amazing abilities because wow, she and Lauren are infinitely organized). They detail, make lists…and generally know what they are doing.
We scramblers…yeah, me…we scramble at the last minute. The wonderful part about being a scrambler is the amazing pressure it puts on you….no wait, that isn’t the amazing part…there must be something good about being a scrambler…maybe I’ll make that a separate post…
Well, anyway, after the baby was born, we got ourselves together and gave them some names. One of the names has haunted me for 28 years and it was the name they chose to give their daughter.
In 1944, the Germans came to a small town in Hungary and took my mother-in-law’s family away… away to Auschwitz and the promise that they would be part of history, part of a great and horrible Holocaust, a final solution to rid the world of the Jewish people.
Among those who were taken, was the youngest sister, Gavriella. While my mother-in-law and her older sister miraculously survived, Gavriella, their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, many cousins, an older brother and his wife, and others…never returned.
When Amira was born, Gavriella’s name was the first my mother-in-law mentioned, and then she said we shouldn’t use the name. Gavriella died very young and there are those that say you shouldn’t name a baby after someone who died young. We honored her request, though I kept thinking that we shouldn’t lose Gavriella for the future, that we had to bring her with us.
Others say that while the idea of not naming a child after someone who died young may apply to someone who died of an illness, it does not apply to those who were murdered – b’Kiddush HaShem – in the sanctification of God’s name, those who were the innocents, murdered simply for being Jews.
We didn’t give Amira the name Gavriella; and by the time Aliza was born…my mother-in-law had passed away and so we gave our baby the name of her grandmother, leaving Gavriella without a namesake, leaving her behind. She has haunted me for so long.
I gave Elie and Lauren several names – a beloved aunt who recently passed away (whose daughter-in-law is expecting and has already promised to give her baby my aunt’s name); a few other names we thought of, some we know in English but not in Hebrew. The choice had to be theirs – their baby…but I hoped…
Elie and Lauren gave their daughter two names – one for her grandfather (but I won’t post the name here without their permission), and one for Gavriella. The custom to give a child the name of someone who has passed away (or was taken too early) means the name lives on and, to some extent, the person as well. It means pulling that person with us into the next generation, ensuring that they are not forgotten.
The thought that Gavriella’s name would disappear in the family has haunted me for a long time and I feel such peace in knowing that her name will now be carried into the future – and more, it will be carried here in Israel, a place she never lived to see.
May God bless Elie and Lauren’s daughter – may she grow in love and health in the sunshine of our land. Somewhere in the heavens, Gavriella is smiling down on this little baby and though she was not given the chance to live to adulthood, to grow and have children, this little girl will stand for her. The Nazis are gone, but Gavriella’s memory lives on.
Visit A Soldier’s Mother.Paula Stern
About the Author: Paula R. Stern is CEO of WritePoint Ltd., a leading technical writing company in Israel. Her personal blog, A Soldier's Mother, has been running for more than 5 years. She lives in Maale Adumim with her husband and children, a dog, too many birds, and a desire to write.The author's opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Jewish Press.
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