In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 11, 2009 / 17 Iyar 5769

What's in a name? Let's ask Emma!

By Mitch Albom

Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | It seems a good time to take stock of the first thing a mom gives you when you come into the world, and sometimes even before you do.

Your name.

Oh, I know Dad may be involved in this. Sometimes. But based on an unscientific poll of specific individuals — in this case, me — one concludes that more often than not, Mom has the final vote on what to call the little angel.

And today it's Emma.

Yes. Emma. According to the Social Security Administration, Emma is the now America's most popular baby name for girls. Funny. I don't know a lot of Emmas. It used to be Emily, which held the title for the last 12 years. And I don't know a lot of Emilys. Then again, I don't hang out with 12-year-olds.

Or in the newborn ward.

But there it is. Emma. Followed by Isabella. Emily. Madison. And Ava. Those are America's five most popular baby girls' names.

Which raises the question, and it is not as simple as it sounds: Why?

What happened to Mary, Sue, Amy, Alice or Beth? It's not that I think they are prettier or more mellifluous. Just more … American. I mean, Emma, Isabella, Emily, Madison and Ava sounds like roll call at a British boarding school. Except for Madison. Don't get me wrong. But did anyone really name their baby Madison until the movie "Splash," when Daryl Hannah made it famous?

Emma, meanwhile, burst onto the list the same year that Jennifer Aniston named her baby Emma on the TV show "Friends." It has been rising ever since.

Isabella, I can't account for — although there was the queen. That was a while ago, though. And she was Spanish.

Let's face it. Trying to make sense of baby name popularity is a lost cause. It used to be easy. People named their children for their parents, or grandparents or even themselves. That kept names pretty simple. Everyone was called John.

But somewhere along the way — I want to say the '70s — parents began to see naming their child as a reflection of their own creativity. So never mind that Grandma was named Ruth. The baby was … Roxanne. Or Roxy. Or Rhianna. Never mind that Grandpa was named Morris. The baby was Mychael. Or Micah. Or Max.

Wow. Max. There was a while, I swear, where every new baby seemed to be named Max. It was so popular, even girls were being named Max. Sometimes, even the family dog.

People also chase celebrity names. For a while, there were a lot of Elvises. And a good number of Madonnas. Today, you might have to name your kid 50 Cent. Which is dangerous, given inflation.

By the way, the most popular boy's name last year was Jacob. Followed by Michael, Ethan, Joshua and Daniel. Those don't sound British. They sound Amish.

You'll notice a distinct Biblical bent to that top five. Which is OK. But I do wonder why certain Biblical names are so popular, while others are not. For example, when was the last time you heard a kid named Cain?

Maybe people only want the good characters from the Bible. Then again, you don't see that many American boys named Moses. He was a heavyweight.

The truth is, you never know why you're called what you're called. Personally, I was never supposed to be Mitch. My mother gave my naming options to her brother, my uncle, as it looked like I was going to be born on his birthday.

And I was.

And he came in and said, "I've chosen."

And she said, "OK."

And he said, "Marmaduke."

And she said, "WHAT?"

Which is how I became Mitch. And why mothers always should name their kids, not uncles. It is also why you should thank your mother today and every day for the wonderful moniker that she chose. Because in the end, could you really imagine yourself with any other name?

Except maybe you, Jedidiah.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

"For One More Day"  

"For One More Day" is the story of a mother and a son, and a relationship that covers a lifetime and beyond. It explores the question: What would you do if you could spend one more day with a lost loved one? Sales help fund JWR.

Comment on Mitch's column by clicking here.

Mitch's Archives