Professional photos from the Simchat Bat taken by Natasha Valik.
Not-so-professional photos taken by me and other family members.
Dear Little One,
Welcome to the world, to the community, and to our immediate family. We are overwhelmed with the joy of seeing you, of holding you, of loving the you that you are and the you that you will become.
You have made such a graceful entrance into our lives, sharing with us with the sweetness of your face and surprising us with your vibrant auburn red hair. We have spent many hours this week looking at you, thinking of both what we know of you and what we hope for you, and choose for you the name Yael Goldie.
In the womb, you were so active. We would watch and feel you kicking, and wonder who was in there! When you were born with the shock of red hair, we recognized the biological imperative of your feistiness. We have chosen for you a biblical name of one of the most feisty women in our tradition. Yael the Kinnite woman heroically defended the Jewish people by pinning a tent pin through the head of an enemy general, Sisera. She was a brave military heroine, resourceful enough to be both seductress and warrior as she broke through the rules in zealous protection of her people.
The name Yael has three other meanings. First, and most famously, a Yael is a mountain goat, or ibex. This desert animal certainly is no match for your beauty, but is sure-footed and steady on rough desert terrain. Secondly, Yael can also mean to ascend, or go up. The letters of “Yael” are from a similar root of “aliyah,” moving towards Torah, Jerusalem, or God. We hope that you find your own aspirations of height, and move towards them with the sure-footedness of your namesake.
There is yet one more possible meaning of Yael, perhaps one of the foremost considerations when picking your name. While Yael in Hebrew is spelled yod-ayin-lamed, the syllables suggest a different spelling of: “Yah”- “el”– two names for God. The name said out loud is in itself an affirmation of God. It also shares something in common with both of your parents– the names Michael and Ariella both use “el” to refer to God. We hope that you will find meaning, as we do, in a name that carries within it the name of God.
Your middle name is Goldie, which we know is an unusual name for a little girl born in 2008. Your namesake, Goldie Kassel was born 110 years ago, and yet you are the first little girl to be born in the family since she passed away in 2001. Your grandmother will speak to you more about her own grandmother, but we just wanted to reflect the very gentle way that Goldie Offenbach was, in her own way, an incredibly fesity woman. She possessed about her an incredible zest for life, and she found her own feistiness giggling her way through life. We hope for you the same infectious fun.
For your Hebrew middle name, rather than choose a translation of “Goldie,” we choose the name Gila, which means joy. It seems a rather fitting tribute to your great-great-grandmother, and also a fitting name for you, named just a few days into the month of Adar, a month of rejoicing.
And it is indeed a month for our family to rejoice in the addition of you.
You enter our immediate family as a second child. Your older brother Noam has been awaiting your arrival so eagerly, rehearsing over and over the narrative of how you would be born, where you would sleep, and the love you would bring. Eleven days into your life, he is eager to hold you, to give you hugs and kisses goodnight, and to always account for your whereabouts. Enjoy it the best you can. Enjoy the close relationship you have with him, even though it is occasionally perilous these days. Nonetheless, we hope that as you grow, you continue to hold onto that closeness and share your life with him.
You are also blessed to have a large extended family which is eager to love you. Today you have celebrating with you aunts and uncles, cousins, grandparents, great-aunts and uncles and great-grandparents who have come together to witness the miracle of you, to welcome you and bring you much love.
As we write this letter to you, we also want to take a moment to reflect to you our hopes and prayers for what we hope will be a wonderful life in front of you. We know that we will have many more opportunities to speak to you, but today we are struck by the family, the community, and the world, and how you may change the places where you tread.
We ask you to be a good citizen in the world around you. Be mindful of other people, and strive towards righteousness. Take care of the planet. Take care of yourself– of your body and of your emotional state. Make good friends, and keep them forever. Do acts of justice and kindness. Study hard, learn things, and use the knowledge to make the world a better place. Share your wisdom with the greater community, become a sage, be a person that others admire. Thrive.
We know that these are tall orders for a little person just 11 days old, but we hope that you will have a long healthy life to carry them out. Never stop trying.
Who you are will leave an imprint on the people around you and the world at large. You will leave a unique mark on the world simply by being the best version of yourself that you can be, by finding your calling, and pursuing it. As your parents, we pledge to support the paths you choose in whatever ways we can.
We are so happy to welcome you to our family. Welcome, welcome, Brucha ha-ba-ah, Yael Goldie.
Ema and Abba