By COLlive reporter
Photos: Levi Percia
The seven women ranging in age from Bas Mitzvah to seniors, had two things in common: They were Russian, and they were never given a Hebrew name at birth.
Now, thanks to the Jewish Women’s Naming Ceremony, a unique project created by Chabad of West Brighton Beach in New York, a woman like Yelena became Chaya.
“Many Jews growing up under Communism were deprived of a Jewish name,” explained event-coordinator, Rebbetzin Esther Winner, of West Brighton Beach.
“We realized it was time to take action to rectify this, so we created the MJN (My Jewish Name) ceremony last year. The event was a hit in our community and many women were enthusiastic about taking part in their Jewish naming celebration.”
After extensive research, each woman had the opportunity to choose her Jewish name; new names included names of relatives or biblical heroines. They each had a family member called to the Torah to initiate the name.
After the ceremony, the women addressed the gathering at a gala dinner in their honor. Each one shared the unique meaning of their name, with friends and family looking on proudly.