Sunday, October 24, 2010
Updated (again): Lincoln Jonah Markel is now on the scene.
With gratitude and joy, Wendi, Benjamin, and I are thrilled to announce the arrival of Lincoln Jonah (Hebrew: Yonah Makahbi) Markel, who surged into our life Wednesday last night (10/13) at 7:07pm, weighing 7lb 3oz, and measuring just under 20 inches. Mommy and LJ are doing well. Many thanks to the incomparable Dr. Andrea Friall and the wonderful team at TMH, as well as the many friends, colleagues, and family helping out while we get things sorted! Picture and elaborate explanation for the names (spoken words at the naming ceremony at Shomrei Torah on 10/20 at LJ's bris) appear after the jump:
First, thanks so much to all of you for being part of our family here in Tallahassee. We're so grateful you could be here to share with us this incredible simcha. Before Wendi and I share some thoughts about our son’s name, I want to highlight the co-incidence, the wonderful timing, of the brit milah (the covenant with God and our people) that our son just entered. Every week, Jews around the world read a portion of the Hebrew Bible, the Torah, in rough synchronicity. This past Shabbat, we read from the portion Lech Lecha, in which Abraham, the father of the Israelite religion and his son Ishmael, were circumcised. This coming Saturday on Shabbat, we will read VaYeira, the portion in which Isaac, Abraham’s son who becomes the second patriarch of the Jewish people, enters into the covenant with God. Isaac entered into the brit on the eighth day of his life, and for that reason, Jews ever after have had the Brit Milah on the Eighth day too. So we are thrilled that your Brit, our beautiful son, can coincide with the auspicious timing of reading about the origins of the brit in the weekly torah portion.
Lincoln Jonah, you are named for a notable historic figure, a truly great human being, my grandma, Lorraine Jacobs. Without any qualification or exaggeration, I can tell you that my grandma was one of the best people ever. Where do I begin? She was funny, so funny, and she laughed with such dedication and fantastic intensity that her nostrils would flare, just like mine do, and maybe yours will, too. Even though she’d had double knee replacements, she never complained, and she used to get down on the floor to play “house” with me, with my dollhouse. Playing “house” was a little different with my grandma. It was actually “Peeping Tom” that we would play, and she would peek in the windows with one of my brother’s action figures, and say, “Hello, I can see you!” which would cause me to collapse in giggles. My mom observed this version of “house” once and said, “Ma, what in the world are you doing?” And grandma said, “She loves it, Donna, let her enjoy.” The same lack of discipline was applied to the fact that I loved to eat out all of the pie filling or all of the apples of the apple cake without touching the dough or the cake part. Grandma probably knew it was me, but she blamed my dad anyway. When he told her I was the culprit, she’d just laugh and shrug, “Oh, she loves my apple cake.” Her love for me and my brothers was fierce, funny, and without fail. We have a million wonderful stories that we share about my grandmother, and they will be a part of your heritage and your upbringing as well. She passed away more than a decade ago but we still think about her and miss her humor, her hugs, her feisty spirit, her generosity, and her love each and every day. She would have loved you, Lincoln, and you too, Benjamin, more than you’ll ever know and we know she is sharing this moment with us today, cognizant that her zesty spirit lives on in our family.
LJ, your name Lincoln resonates with us in other meaningful ways as well. For example, Lincoln Road was a place in Miami where Abba and I have had many happy times, walking up and down the pedestrian streets, sharing meals at the Books and Books cafe, gorging on gelato, coffee and snacks with each other, as well as with close friends and family.
And, as you’ll learn in school one day, once you are diaper trained and all, Abraham Lincoln, 16th president of the U.S., was widely known for his upright character, decency, and wisdom, and we hope we’ll merit the chance to see you manifest these traits over the course of your life, long may you flourish. Lincoln was also instrumental in facilitating the end of slavery in the United States and thereby helping envision a new political order of equality and freedom. Because part of my work involves working with victims of human trafficking, and educating against all forms of human exploitation, I find a special significance in naming you after someone who so deeply catalyzed a world of greater justice.
We hope you’ll heed Lincoln’s famous aphorism of trying to live a life well lived. He said in words that still ring powerfully: “I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right, and stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong.” Another statement by Lincoln also serves as a guidepost in the uncharted landscape of life: I want it said of me by those who knew me best, that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow.
One last point about your first English name, Lincoln: Abba and I both cherish our connection to our people and the faith and practices that unite us across time and space. Each one of us is not only a link in the chain of the Jewish people, but also a link to the rest of humanity and in those links are also our tethers, our obligations, our duties as responsible stewards for our fragile and frequently broken world. For this reason, we also love the nickname “Linc” and hope that you will be the next link in the chain of the longstanding history of our people, participating in those glorious achievements, sharing them with the world, and all the while, learning from our mistakes and those of others.
Sweet boy, your middle name, Jonah, means “dove” in Hebrew, which the world over serves as a symbol of peace. During their college years, Mommy focused heavily on Peace and Conflict Studies and Abba worked on issues of inter-ethnic and inter-racial dialogue, all aimed at the promotion of a more peaceful world, genuinely respectful of the enlivening differences characterizing the quilt of humanity. We hope, Lincoln Jonah, that you will be a force for peace, honesty, goodness, joy, and connection to the Jewish people.
Lincoln Jonah, your Hebrew name will be Yonah Maccabee. Yonah, as we just said, symbolizes a dove or peace. Yonah was also one of the prophets whose story we read every Yom Kippur, our most solemn day. Like the person of Lincoln himself, the Biblical figure of Yonah presents complications. First, he was a reluctant prophet. But that’s not so bad, right? Maybe that means he’ll bring a healthy dose of skepticism and caution to claims of puffery and charlatans. And sure, he managed to get swallowed by a big fish. LJ, let it be a lesson that you should avoid sailing the high seas, especially without a life jacket! Your mommy will rightly worry… But let’s put things in perspective. Yonah was also responsible for bringing understanding and enlightenment to the people of Nineveh, and by virtue of his roar of prophecy, the people of Nineveh repented and thus were spared. So, Yonah, our hope is that like Jonah the prophet, you’ll be able to hear wisdom, investigate its claims, and share it widely and persuasively with the people around you.
LJ, your second Hebrew name is Ma’kahbi, which would be rendered in English normally as Maccabee or transliterated as Makahbi. In selecting this second Hebrew name, we had in mind Abba’s Zaidy Max Markel, who would be your paternal great grandfather. Zaidy Max’s Hebrew name was Mordechai, a name now proudly shared by your cousin Ari, the son of your Aunt Shelly and Uncle Ian. And of course, you now have a new cousin Max, the son of Uncle Rob and Aunt Haritha.
So what’s the story with Makahbi? Well, in popular Jewish lore, Makahbi signifies a hammer, a sign of strength, heroism, and to a degree, nationalism or pride. The dynastic Tel Aviv basketball team, unsurprisingly, is the Makahbi Electra Tel Aviv. This connection to the Maccabee family, whose good deeds and works we celebrate during Hanukkah, is one that we think my Bubbie Helen would have cherished, such was her love of Am Yisroel, the Jewish people. The Maccabee family is commonly thought to have led a Jewish rebel force against the Seleucid Empire. Through their might and wisdom, they re-established control over parts of the Land of Israel, and therein created space for an authentic Jewish political presence there instead of the faux Hellenized version then prevailing, a life of oppression in which celebrating the Sabbath or observing the Brit Milah was forbidden. The Makahbi rebels should be regarded by you, sweet boy, as catalysts for religious freedom and cultural expression, and popular self-government.
To be sure, Yonah Makahbi, the details are no doubt more complicated, and it’s not as if we want you to reject the gifts of civilization brought by other peoples. But you should always be critically proud and proudly critical, our young boy, of the rites and markings of our cultural and religious patrimony. Importantly, while we want you to live in and pursue a world of peace, we also recognize that in a rough and tumble world, having a hammer nearby for use as a last resort, will help protect the sphere of liberty in which the blessings of life should be yours and your children’s.
Wendi and Danny:
We love you, Lincoln Jonah. We -- Abba, Mommy and Benben -- love you, Yonah Makabi. Welcome to our world, our community, and our family, the world we must care for, the community we must tend to, and the family we eat up we love so much. Please join us in trying to make this world a better place, by plucking thistles wherever you see them, and planting flowers wherever you think they might grow.
TrackBack URL for this entry:
Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Updated (again): Lincoln Jonah Markel is now on the scene. :
Many congratulations! What a sweet baby.
Posted by: Cecelia | Oct 14, 2010 9:37:34 AM
Wonderful news! Congratulations!
Posted by: Kurt Lash | Oct 14, 2010 9:56:29 AM
Mazel Tov to the entire Markel family.
Posted by: Howard Wasserman | Oct 14, 2010 10:18:53 AM
Congratulations, Dan - I wish you all the best!
Posted by: Mark D. White | Oct 14, 2010 1:12:47 PM
Posted by: Tamara Piety | Oct 14, 2010 5:40:58 PM
Mazel tov, Wendi, Ben and Dan!
Posted by: Jack Chin | Oct 14, 2010 10:53:33 PM
Posted by: Jen Kreder | Oct 14, 2010 11:23:22 PM
Posted by: Brendan Maher | Oct 15, 2010 1:32:32 AM
Posted by: rebecca bratspies | Oct 20, 2010 11:17:39 AM
wonderful name, and wonderful naming words from the two of you.
Posted by: Orly Lobel | Oct 24, 2010 8:22:14 PM
Congrats. Especially in the midst of the recruitment season, it's nice to see a reminder of the things that really matter. I hope Lincoln has terrific fun being a kid.
Posted by: anon | Oct 25, 2010 6:03:28 AM
Mazel Tov to the Markel household! And may I say that young Lincoln Jonah has an excellent and auspicious b'day.
Posted by: Brannon Denning | Oct 27, 2010 10:15:58 AM
Many thanks all! Much appreciated.
Posted by: Dan Markel | Oct 27, 2010 10:56:12 AM
The comments to this entry are closed.