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Hebrew Names and Popular Misconceptions

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According to popular misconceptions, traditional Judaism treats women like chattel (property) if not outright like cattle (beasts, obviously).

That’s not true, of course, and it’s why people are asking for my mother’s Hebrew name for prayer, not my dad’s.

Whenever you pray for mercy, for a special kindness from God, you pray in the name of the mother—in the name of parent who is most likely to grant it to you. That’s the same parent who granted you life. The Hebrew name for “womb” is Rehem—which is the root for the word “mercy” which is Rachamim—in other words, mercy comes from the womb, from the female, tender, nourishing, forgiving side of God.

My Hebrew name when I’m called up as a witness in court, on my wedding day, or to lead the congregation in prayers is Michael son of David (Mee-Cha-Yale ben—means son of—David). When someone prays for me, asking for mercy, I’m called Michael ben Shoshanna Gittel, the Hebrew name my late mom used.

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