When I was pregnant with my second child, my husband and I told our 3-year-old son, Cai, that he could name the baby. This would help him feel like an important family member before his universe collapsed. “O.K.,” Cai said. “Her name is Mary.”
No, it’s not, I thought.
I wasn’t worried. I knew that the next day he’d choose another name. But when that didn’t happen, I wanted to renege. “Why can’t we name her Mary?” my husband said. Our marriage has been punctuated by such adorable questions, as Matt was not born or raised Jewish. ‘Why were you dancing like a bull at the wedding?’ he asked me once. Now, the question was: Why not Mary?
What could I say? That, aside from “Christina,” perhaps, there’s no name that shouts “Jesus is my Lord and Savior” as much as “Mary”? That naming a child “Mary” is, in the eyes of many Jews — most of whom know my parents — tantamount to a betrayal of my faith? That, in the view of the religious teachers who educated me, “Moon Unit” would be far preferable? Read more