When I was younger I had a friend named Baruch. Of course we didn’t call him Baruch, we called him Brian. His name was beautiful and as an adult I wonder why he didn’t use it, but if I remember what things were like back then well, children in my neighborhood would have pestered him for having a name that was too unfamiliar. Names like Howie,or Mark,or David were okay. Baruch? Sadly it wasn’t okay.
What strikes me as strange almost 30 years later is that Baruch’s mother decided to call him Brian. She’d tell folks his real name when she was asked about her children, but she’d always say ” Baruch is the baby,but we call him Brian.” I think I’m touched by her love. She was rightly proud of her heritage and she had honored a relative and her son by giving him such a strong name, but she was savvy enough to know that a name like that would be a tough mantle for a young boy.
Things have changed over the years. Now unique names are common. But there was a time when it was safer to have a “normal name”. Now we might hear a nick name and wonder what the formal name is. That is what made me think of Baruch’s mother. I know of someone named Barry and I wondered to myself if his name had originally been more formal..something like Baruch. And at that I wondered why my friend was called Brian? Why didn’t his mother call him Barry? But then I felt slightly ashamed…Baruch’s mother called him Brian! The End.