What’s in a Name?

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There are few occasions more joyful than the birth of a baby. But in the nine months leading up to that glorious day, there are many pragmatic decisions to be made, from which kind of stroller to buy to which color to paint the nursery.

New parents have to consider so many variables, and there’s no shortage of advice from experts, friends, relatives and even mommy bloggers: Should we do cosleeping or let the baby cry it out? Should we use disposable diapers or cloth? Should we get a standard crib or convertible? It’s overwhelming.

There is one decision, though, that’s a bit more personal than whether to go with Aviary Blue or Adriatic Sea on the walls — and it also tends to be more permanent: the baby’s name.


For Jewish parents, the question of a name can get pretty complicated, as many Jewish children have both a secular, American name as well as a Hebrew name. So aside from the typical choices — such as whether the child will have a middle name — some Jewish parents have double the trouble when it comes to choosing a name — or double the pleasure, depending on your point of view.

As with other aspects of Jewish practice, baby-naming traditions vary widely depending on degree of observance and affiliation, but whether a name is American or Hebrew, it most certainly won’t be the same as that of a living relative if the baby is Ashkenazi. There are both religious and

superstitious justifications for this, which explains why there aren’t too many Ashkenazi Jewish Juniors.

The Jewish website Kveller reported a few months ago on the top five most popular Jewish baby names for 2016 so far. For girls, they were Charlotte, Ava, Sadie, Elizabeth and Abigail. For boys, they were Ezra, Asher, Levi, Elijah and Ethan.

But the Jewish Exponent birth announcements recently featured new arrivals with less conventional names: Brody, Kylie, Fiona, Jordyn, Kayden, Presley and Raegan —not exactly shtetl names. There were two Logans, too.

One of those Logans — Logan Milo Baill, born Aug. 22 — was named for a relative, but not in the way you might think. His great-grandfather, Morton Goren, had a deep connection to the neighborhood where he grew up — the Logan section of Philadelphia.

“My poppy Morton Goren was very proud of his childhood in Logan,” explained Liz Baill, Logan’s mother. “He  had a group of childhood friends that called themselves the Logan Boys. In junior high, they formed a basketball team — the Logan Sparks. They took a photo of the original five basketball teammates as kids and continued to take a photo in the same formation, with my poppy crouching down in the middle of the front row, whenever they were together. This continued throughout their lives, so we have years of Logan Boys pictures, and we always knew who Pop’s Logan friends were.”

Goren passed away almost a year ago; Liz and her husband, Andrew, found out they were having a baby shortly thereafter.

“We like to think of [our son] as the next of the Logan boys,” Baill said. “The Logan Boys shared a very special, lifelong bond, and we hope that love lives on through Logan.”

Logan’s middle name, Milo, pays tribute to three grandparents with M names: Marion, Morris and Mort.

Morton Goren’s daughter, Pam, said the remaining Logan boys — who have stayed local with one exception — were thrilled by Liz and Andrew’s decision to name their son after the neighborhood.

“My dad was the first of the group to pass away, but is surely smiling from above,” she said.

And at least one decision was easily made for Liz and Andrew Baill when they were decorating their home in honor of their new baby’s arrival: “We have one of the early Logan Boys photos in our son’s nursery,” Baill said.

No word, however, on the color of the walls.

Contact: lspikol@jewishexponent.com; 215-832-0747

Read more from our Fall Simchas issue here

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