Baby’s Name: Top Secret?

Question

Hi Rabbi, we are new grandparents and have not been told what the newborn will be called at the baby’s naming ceremony. Is it usual to wait until after the ritual to tell the grandparents? Thank you.

, 4 months

Answers

  1. First of all “Mazal Tov” and I wish you and your family many years of much happiness and good health together!

    As you probably know, the widespread Jewish custom is to officially name a baby boy at the time of the bris milah circumcision ceremony, and to name a baby girl during a public Torah reading service in the synagogue, usually on Shabbat.

    I assume you would like to know in advance out of curiosity, to allow for any input on your part or just to share in the experience of the amazement surrounding beginning a family member’s new life in this world. I understand you and can relate to all the above reasons.

    However, whether the parents choose to keep the baby’s name a secret until they make the name “official” is their prerogative and is a personal decision.

    There is no right or wrong or “usual” in this matter, and if the parents would ask me whether to tell their parents in advance I would advise doing whatever will make the grandparents the happiest. Family harmony is at the top of my list of priorities in general.

    I know many grandparents (ourselves included) who have been told the name of the baby (only) a day or so before the naming and we felt happy not to be “left in the dark.” We thanked our wonderful, loving and considerate children for telling us. But, on one occasion, I admit it was a bit awkward when the parents changed their mind about what to name the baby literally at the time of the naming ceremony! But, of course, we love them all dearly.

    In summation, in your case, I would say that it’s a personal decision for them, and if they choose not to reveal their choice of name in advance, I am sure they have a valid reason. And their decision to act in this “top secret” way should be respected. But that doesn’t mean you cannot tactfully inquire in advance about the name, if you like. However, I suggest you making it clear that, although you would like to know, you are not pressing at all and whatever they name the baby is wonderful. And that you will always love them and your new grandchild unconditionally.

    Mazal tov and may you all share only happy occasions!

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team