Sunday, November 18, 2007

Wednesday Nov 19

Fitted out my nephew Josale
with his first pair of shoes, how
cute he is.

home & movies


Matt's Notes

Interestingly, this is the first time Papa has written a cheerful entry about his nephew, Josale, because it's the first time circumstances have allowed him to. As you'll recall, Papa's sister, Nettie, gave birth to Josale a little over six months ago and just a day before Papa learned of his own father's death. Papa and his other sister, Clara, decided to keep the bad news from Nettie while she convalesced, though Nettie became suspicious when the family insisted on naming the baby after Papa's father, Joseph. (Jews normally don't name their children after the living.) Papa then entered a long period of self-reflective mourning and only wrote about Josale to describe his chronic, worrisome cough, so it's a relief to see Papa at last write something as unexceptional about him as "how cute he is." I suppose it was a relief for Papa, too.


Josele's birth and Papa's father's death were so closely tied that I often wonder if Papa found it hard to be around Josele without really knowing why. Is this happy entry about Josele a sign that Papa has gotten over his grief a bit more?


Papa's been going to the movies a lot lately, but he hasn't said which ones he's seen. According to the New York Times, there are a couple of new choices in town since he last went a couple of days ago:

  • Married Flirts, a light shipboard comedy based on the novel Mrs. Paramor
  • The Midnight Express, a thriller shown with Charlie Chaplin's The Pilgrim


  1. Hi Matt –

    Allow me to wear my pedant’s hat here and point out that the naming of children after the dead is not a Jewish tradition in general, but exclusive to Ashkenazi Jews. See excerpt below from Wikipedia.

    ‘In contrast to Ashkenazic Jews, who do not name newborn children after living relatives, Sephardic Jews often name their children after the children's grandparents, even if they are still alive. The first son and daughter are traditionally named after the paternal grandparents, and then the maternal parent's names are next up in line for the remaining children. After that, additional children's names are "free", so to speak, meaning that one can choose whatever name, without any more "naming obligations." The only instance in which Sephardic Jews will not name after their own parents when one of the spouses shares a common first name with a mother/father-in-law (since Jews will not name their children after themselves.) There are times though when the "free" names are used to honor the memory of a deceased relative who died young or childless. These conflicting naming conventions can be troublesome when children are born into mixed Ashkenazic-Sephardic households.’

  2. Aviva:

    I stand corrected. Thanks.

  3. I mentioned that when I commented the first time you mentioned naming customs. I think I did (could the comment option been gone that day?). Because they were separated by an ocean, it might have been permissible to name the newborn after his grandfather.

    There's a superstition among the Ashkanazi that, if you name the child after someone who's still living, one of them will die.