My Name Dance

My Name Dance

This Friday night, as we do every year, we will be hosting the Ethiopian students from Nishmat, where my husband is a teacher.

Hosting the Ethiopian girls is one of the highlights of my year, not only because they are always so remarkably lovely… but because I LOVE hearing the girls’ names. Each girl’s name is rich with meaning, with a special story behind it…

“My name is Asmalesh. That means ‘Don’t forget,’ because when my mother was pregnant with me, my older brother died.”

“My name is Adano. That means “To become healthy,” because my father recovered from tuberculosis right after I was born.”

“My name is Malassah, that means ‘return’ because when my mother was pregnant with me, my father was on a dangerous journey through Sudan. My mother prayed my father would return, so they could be reunited in their village or in Israel.”

“My name is Tafalega, that means ‘I searched, I found.’ For many years my mother was told that she would never give birth, but she did give birth in the end, to me and my younger brother, against all odds.”

“My name is Mucheet, that means ‘Little one.’ My mother was 44 when I was born, she thought she was too old to have any more children, but then I surprised her. I was her 7th.”

“My name is Bantsee, that means “She brought luck.” My parents waited in the village to make aliya to Israel for 8 years. Right after I was born, my family received permission to come to Israel, and their dream came true.”

I will admit that when I hear their unforgettable, personalized names, I feel like I can’t really relate to my own name…

What do I know about my namesake, Chana? That she prayed with passion, that she was infertile for 19 years, that she gave her son away when he was only 3 to serve Hashem in the Tabernacle.

Chana was so holy, so beyond, what do I have in common with her? Almost like I was given the name “Tsaddekes” to carry around for my whole life.

Today in Devora’s dance Journey workshop, though, I got new insight into my name. Devora asked us to dance the letters of our names…and she put out pages on each letter so that we could learn the deeper mystical meaning of each one.

Chana is written with three letters, Chet, Nun, and Heh.

Chet, Rabbi Ginsburgh teaches, means “Ratso v’Shov” the ups and downs of life.

Ups and downs? Yep, I’m no stranger to those.

Nun, traditionally, is connected with the word “Noflim,” falling.

Oy, yes, I do that quite often.

And Heh, of course, represents Hashem. Rabbi Ginsburgh says Heh also means thought, speech, action, expression.

So this morning I danced the letters of my name–the ups and downs, the falling, and Hashem ultimately filling me and lifting me up time after time. And then expressing myself, sharing those experiences–with you.


  1. Sarah Batsheva

    This is such a lovely post! I really relate to names having an essence of the person, ascending down from shamayim to enlighten the parents almost.

    My birth name is Sarah and when I finished my giyur I added on Batsheva. Sarah in her own was a princess and I love the name since I am now a daughter of the King of Kings, a princess. The reason behind why I chose Batsheva was because upon meeting, many people think I converted because of my husband, David (lol he looks like a ffb but is actually a convert as well).. we both started separately in two different countries and finished our conversion together. The haftorah of Chayei Sarah is the story of David and Batsheva and it seemed almost fitting to use this name. Not to mention one meaning is that it is daughter of oath, which is what I took upon myself when I finished the giyur.

    I think that just like everyones name is visible in the Torah so too does your name also represent something about you.. you just have to look. Chana was an amazing woman and not only that her son is compared to Moshe Rabeinu and Aharon HaCohen. Only through tears, perseverance, and sacrifice did he reach that level. I think that through this site you show us so much of yourself.. the tears, the perseverance, the sacrifice. Its inspirational to say the least. Own your name, it’s who you are 🙂

  2. It sounds like you had a profound experience, connecitng on a deep level with your name, and through dance too! Thank you for sharing.

  3. The Lubavitcher Rebbe spoke many times about the meaning of the name Channah, since it was his mother’s name! Ches refers to Challah which includes our nurturing and feeding our families kosher food , Nun for the laws of Niddah and taharas hamishpacha – family purity, and Hey for hadlokas neiros, lighting the Shabbat and holiday candles. I think you do a great job of living up to your name since you inspire so many women to persevere with our challenging job and role in our lives.

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