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On 'Ezra'

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Ezra is named for four of his great-grandparents — two of Sarah’s grandmothers and two of my grandfathers:



Stanley was my mother’s father. He died when I was a teenager. He was my only grandparent who didn’t live in the same city as me, and so I didn’t get to know him nearly as well as the others. Still, I have incredibly fond memories of him, especially from a trip he and my step-grandmother Frada took me on one winter to go snowmobiling in Yellowstone. He was my first choice to honor with our son’s name, but we both thought having a Sarah, Sandy and Stanley in one house was a bit much. So he got the middle name.

Instead we went with Ezra, and the acronym. Yes, it’s a bit silly, but so are we, especially when it comes to wordplay. Might as well play to our strengths. Plus, we really liked the name. Strangely, we had it on the list in the very beginning, but dropped it when we encountered some anecdotal evidence that it was becoming too popular. We put it back on the list just a couple weeks before he was born, realizing that it’s silly to base the decision entirely on that factor. A good name is a good name, and this was a good name.

Ezra, literally, means helper. Not that babies always live up to their name’s meaning (says me, Sandor, “Defender of Man”), but we like the idea that he’ll grow up with a sense of empathy and care toward his fellow humans. Ezra was also a major player in the Old Testament. He led the exiled Jews back from Babylon and led the building of the second temple in Jerusalem, with the help of three Persian Kings named Cyrus, Darius & Artaxerxes — sure to be the names of Ezra’s three pet hamsters someday.

At the bris, we gave him the nebrew name Zelig Avram, also honoring the grandfathers mentioned above. Zelig was Zoltan’s hebrew middle name, and Avram was Stanley’s hebrew first name. Plus, I think it rhythmically matches his English name.

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Those are the names as he’s known by the state. Then there are the names we actually use. We’re amassing a good collection, growing everyday. Often when I’m holding him in my arms I’ll lock eyes with him and try out a bunch of new ones. “What’s up, Captain Hairball? What’s up, Nuge? What’s up, Dunderpants?” Some of them stick, some don’t. Here’s a list of some of the stickier ones so far:

Burpy Joe
Chubby Huggs
Ezzie Ez
Milky Joe
Swaddly Joe

And finally, my favorite, the name our two-and-a-half-year-old friend Floyd gave him on a recent visit. It’s a combo of his first name and fetonym, parsed through the mouth of a toddler:

Zaza Picocky

We envision this to be his stage name some day. Just not sure which type of stage.

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