Not Phoebe? That’s what old ladies are called FIRST PER­SON

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY KEREN DAVID

MY DAUGH­TER’S name — Phoebe — drew dis­ap­proval from both of her grand­moth­ers.

I’d found it in a book of He­brew names, sur­pris­ingly as Phoebe is a Greek name, mean­ing light, of­ten as­so­ci­ated with the moon.

I’d looked up Feivel, which was the He­brew name of my late fa­ther-in-law, Philip, a kind, gen­tle and car­ing man. There was no ques­tion that we would hon­our his mem­ory in nam­ing our first child. It was just that I didn’t like the names Philip or Philippa (we chose not to know the baby’s gen­der be­fore birth).

Feivel, I read, was a Yid­dish ver­sion of Phoe­bus, adopted by an­cient Greek Jews in an at­tempt at as­sim­i­la­tion which, with hind­sight, com­pletely failed. This ap­pealed to me greatly, show­ing as it did the re­silience of the Jewish peo­ple de­spite their own ef­forts. My hus­band ap­proved too. But the grand­moth­ers did not. Phoebe, they pro­nounced was an “old lady” name.

“Have you con­sid­ered Phyl­l­ida?” asked my mother. From Manch­ester, my mother-in-law sug­gested Fiona.

Al­ter­na­tives to Philip were harder to find, par­tic­u­larly as my hus­band re­ally wanted to call a son af­ter his dad. I ten­ta­tively sug­gested Felix.

This time Mum didn’t just dis­ap­prove, she is­sued a down­right ban. Felix re­minded her of a for­mer boyfriend, she said. Oh, and by the way, Isaac was also for­bid­den, as it was the name of her no-good grand­fa­ther.

My hus­band and I never agreed on the Philip ques­tion, and I went into labour about to give birth to Alexan­der Philip or Philip Alexan­der, de­pend­ing on who­ever man­aged to get to the regis­trar first. But Phoebe it was.

And once the grand­moth­ers fell in love with her, they agreed it was the per­fect name.

Two months later my sis­ter gave birth to Avi­tal. “Per­haps we could call her Abi­gail?” said Mum.

Phoebe and Avi­tal are 21 now and their dot­ing grand­mother has long for­got­ten her ob­jec­tions to their names. But look­ing ahead, I can un­der­stand her feel­ings. It’s the na­ture of name trends that one’s grand­chil­dren’s names of­ten re­flect the fashions of the gen­er­a­tion 20 years ahead of you.

How will I re­act if my kids present me with grand­chil­dren called Pa­tri­cia, Doreen or Joan? The phrase “old lady names” springs to mind.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.