Naming a Daughter

A personal perspective on choosing a name.

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When it came up, we largely only spoke about the one side of her name--the connection to my grandmother Henia Dina; but Dina is proud of her two sided heritage--of being named for matriarchs on both sides of my family. Dina paid homage to the other part of her name a few weeks before her bat mitzvah.

Rooted in Justice

On a trip to Israel, staff at Yad Vashem took her to the computer room to look up testimony related to Dina Eisenmann’s death at Bergen Belsen and we laid flowers and lit a yahrtzeit candle in the Garden of the Communities--a tie that has now focused our Dina on current genocides, including Darfur. Now at age 15 when asked about her name, Dina will say she does not relate to the tragic figure of Dina in the book of Bereishit, daughter of Jacob and Leah, who is most closely associated with a rape.

My Dina, currently the very modest, lone girl among 13 boys on her high school mock trial team, and in the running to head the social action committee at her day school next year, identifies herself with the root word of her name, din, for law or justice, and indeed talks of becoming a lawyer. “I think about it sometimes,’’ she says, “and feel that my name is pulling me to help seek justice in the world.’’

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Francesca Lunzer Kritz

Francesca Lunzer Kritz is a freelance health-care writer whose work has appeared in The Washington Post, Good Housekeeping, Self, and other national publications.