As we are getting ready for camp, we are making lists and learning the names of all our campers. It is interesting to note the “popular names” and the changes over time. This summer at camp, we are seeing a lot of the following: Sam/Samuel/Samantha, Hannah, Benjamin/Ben, Jacob, and Noah. Names are important, but they must be more than simply labels. Parents spend a great deal of time choosing the names for their children and rightly so—your name stays with you forever. We honor family members by giving our child a name of a relative. In the Sephardic tradition, one names after a living relative while in the Ashkenazic tradition, one names after someone who has died. We hope that our child will exemplify the good qualities of that special person.
Today, many families are choosing Biblical names. And speaking of names in the Bible, how many do you know? It is a fun game with kids to see how many you can list. Now for the real challenge—how many women in the Bible can your family name? An important question is: “Why are so few women named?” Being named in the Bible means importance; women were not always valued. Try naming the women of the Bible, and then discover their stories and the lessons you can learn from them. Here is a short list: who do you know? Where can you find out about them? Simple; go to the Bible and discover really great women. Who knows, maybe someday there will be little girls named Shifra and Puah?
Familiar: Eve, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Miriam, Esther, Hannah! Less Familiar: Leah, Ruth, Deborah, Naomi, Abigail, Dina, Tamar. Do you know these women? Lilith, Bilhah, Zilpah, Yocheved, Tziporah, Delilah, How about Naamah and Jezebel?
Let’s learn about the wonderful women in our Jewish history. As you read and learn about them, remember the historical time period; women were not as lucky in times past. Their choices and actions were limited. All of this gives us so much to learn about and talk about. Hooray for the many “Women of Valor!!”
Shalom…from the Shabbat Lady
Laura Seymour is director of camping services and Jewish life and learning at the Jewish Community Center of Dallas.