for our daughter.

On the occasion of your naming. February 27, 2015.
Peninsula Temple Beth El, San Mateo, California

  • images
  • February 27, 2015
Sara's baby naming.
October 1981.

Sela Penina Mason-Barkin, or Penina Selah in Hebrew.

A big name for a very, very lit­tle girl. But we know that no mat­ter how small you are now, you will grow into this name — this name that was so care­fully cho­sen for you.

Sela Penina, you are named for two very strong, intel­li­gent, lov­ing, and beau­ti­ful women.

Your first name, Sela, is for your GG – your Great- Grandma Selma. Sela, you are your GG’s six­teenth great-grand­child, so we know exactly how much she would have loved to meet you. Just like she loved meet­ing your cousins and your big brother, watch­ing you play would have made her blue eyes twin­kle and when we placed you on her lap, I know she would have chuck­led deeply.

In her absence, we have given you a name that not only sounds like hers but that we also hope will inspire you live up to some of her most spe­cial qual­i­ties.

Your GG pos­sessed a quiet strength and a grace that allowed her live an incred­i­ble and full life, even after the death of your great grandpa, Carl. At her funeral, many spoke about the ways that she con­tributed to her husband’s busi­ness suc­cess – and how in another day and age she would have been run­ning the store her­self. Well my lit­tle Sela, here you are – in another day and age. I know that it wouldn’t mat­ter to your GG what your pas­sion comes to be – whether you find your­self lov­ing writ­ing or music or math: but it would mat­ter to her that you put your whole self into it. This is our wish for your, too.

Another endur­ing les­son from your GG that we hope you will always take to heart is the impor­tance of fam­ily. Your GG made it a pri­or­ity to make sure that fam­ily always got together, and really got to know one another. You have already begun to live this with­out even know­ing it, when you wel­comed two of your big cousins to come visit you when you were still in the hos­pi­tal. Your brother Charlie and all your big cousins Zachy, Eliza, Aviva and Caleb already love you so much – and you have so much to learn from them. Your GG would have loved to know how impor­tant they already are to you, and our hope for you is that fam­ily will always come first – and that you will always make this a pri­or­ity.

Your mid­dle name, Penina, is for your Great Grandmother, Ina. We find the let­ters of her name at the end of yours. Your Great Grandmother was also a source of strength for her fam­ily and force in her com­mu­nity. She was a Dean at Clark University and val­ued edu­ca­tion and learn­ing for her­self and for her fam­ily. If your Great Grandmother was still here, she would want to play scrab­ble with you, teach you three syl­la­ble words, and talk with you about cur­rent events. As you strive to reach your big dreams, we hope you do so with a thirst for knowl­edge and love of learn­ing that would make your great-grand­mother so proud.

Your great-grand­mother was very cere­bral, but also appre­ci­ated beauty and detail. One of her most won­der­ful qual­i­ties that I, unfor­tu­nately, did not inherit, was to set a beau­ti­ful table and host a gor­geous hol­i­day meal. She always hosted with plea­sure and beauty. Whether or not you love to cook, we hope that you will always strive for bal­ance between the intel­lec­tual and the aes­thetic. We want you to find beauty every­where you look, just as we see beauty when we look at you.

Sela Penina, or Penina Selah in Hebrew:

Penina in Hebrew means Pearl. Your great-grand­mother Ina had ter­rific taste in jew­elry, and a few years ago she gave me a beau­ti­ful pearl neck­lace of hers, which will some­day be yours. When I wear it, I think about not only the beauty of the pearls, but about the pearls of wis­dom that your great grand­mother would share as she tried her best to help me in the kitchen, as she set a beau­ti­ful table, or as she quizzed me on the mean­ing of a new word.

Selah in Hebrew means Rock. Just a few months ago, at your GG’s funeral, we remem­bered her lov­ingly as ‘the rock’ of our fam­ily. She kept us all, and con­tin­ues to keep us all together as she heads the fam­ily with her lov­ing strength. In the book of Deuteronomy, God is described as nurs­ing Israel with dvash mis­e­lah, honey from a rock. Like your GG, a rock is strong. It is stead­fast and with­stands much. But like you, and like your GG, this imagery shows us a rock filled with honey: a rock that is sweet, a rock per­form­ing an act of love. This describes your GG to a tee, and so too may you be as strong as you are sweet.

Our lit­tle Sela Penina, Penina Selah, we real­ize these names are a lot to live up to for a lit­tle tiny baby. But there are no two women more deserv­ing of a name­sake as pre­cious as you. Welcome to the world, we are so proud to be your par­ents.

Love,

Mom and Dad