Trying to catch up on blog posts since the last week or two have been crazy trying to get ready for the big move… but if you also follow (or stalk) me on Facebook, I’m sure you’ve recently noticed the name change. So, as one friend so poignantly asked, “what’s up with that”?
Fist things first, what is this “Rucheli” thing I call myself now? Well it’s a nickname lovingly given to me by Malka, one of my best friends. It’s short for my Hebrew name, which is Ruchel Yisraela. I was named after my great-grandparents on both sides of my mother’s parents… my my mom’s mother’s mother and mom’s father’s father. And a year ago when I really started becoming more observant, I was thinking back and forth about using my Hebrew name more often, but Ruchel Yisraela is a mouthful. And so Rucheli became the standard name I introduced myself as to the different members of the Jewish communities I found myself involved with, whether it was Crown Heights or the Snorkel & Study program or the JLI retreats, etc.
Recently, as I’ve gotten closer and closet to leaving for Israel, and as I’ve had more and more constant contact with people who call me Rucheli, it’s become natural to me. But I never really thought about “changing” my name because my family has never known me as that. But two days ago in Miami for my going away/birthday party, my family gave me a cake that said “Happy Birthday Rucheli” on it… and that was it 🙂 So Rucheli is officially the name I’m using from now on whenever I meet someone new, and if my old friends want to start calling me that as well, all the better 😉
So what is so great about Hebrew/Jewish names anyways? Why would I want to be called by a name different than that which I grew up with all my life? Because for a Jew, the Hebrew name is a string connecting the soul to G-d. When someone faints, what do you do? You whisper their name in their ear to wake them up again. Same too with a Jewish name… When your soul is struggling or sleeping, someone saying your Jewish name can wake it up and help restore it to it’s rightful place as part of G-d. This is how powerful a Jewish name is, and it is also said that your destiny and your Jewish name are completely intertwined, with every letter in your name representing a key event or turning point in your life. Masters of Kabbalah (the ancient Jewish mysticism, not the Madonna side-show) actually tell us that when parents give their children their Jewish name, they are actually receiving prophecy from G-d, since they are fore-telling what is already destined to happen to their child and summing it all up with one (or sometimes two) Jewish names.
With a name that means so much and which has evidently played such a pivotal role in my life getting to this point, why wouldn’t I want to use it as often as possible? 🙂