Just about 10 days ago, my wife Ariel and I welcomed our our first born son! And just this past Wednesday we had his bris, where he was officially welcomed into the Jewish people and was given his full name.
Jacob Ezra Yisrael Chaim Kapoano
People who know me, know how important names are to me. My very unique first and last names (I’m pretty sure I’m only “Liran Kapoano” on the planet) have meant that talking about and explaining them have become a part of my character and personality. The rather tragic history of my family and the rest of the Jews of Thessaloniki, Greece means that continuing that heritage through future generations is extremely important to me.
To that end, I thought I would just take a moment to post about this huge milestone in our family’s history. As my father’s first grandson, Jacob is one of only a few people on Earth who can continue both our bloodline and name. In fact, he is the only one in America at all.
Being that he represents so much for our family, we took great care in naming him after people from both Ariel and my side of the family who we hope he takes after and emulates their best qualities. Here are my notes from the speech I gave at his Brit Milah this week. I’m posting them on here so ensure that someday I can sit down with Jacob and share with him the story of all of his names.
Namesakes: Jerry Mack (Ariel’s maternal grandfather), Jack Bucher (Ariel’s paternal grandfather), Jana Kapoano (Liran’s paternal grandmother)
The biblical Jacob was the father of the 12 Hebrew tribes. Known as a learned man who would spend his time studying in his tent. In addition to being book smart though, he was also street smart with ensuring he received his birthright instead of his awful brother Esau by making the greatest deal in history, trading him lentil stew for the birthright of the Jewish people. It’s a really cool story that I look forward to telling Jacob someday when he’s old enough to understand
Namesakes: Emmett (Ariel’s uncle Dennis’s middle name), Elimelech (Liran’s maternal grandfather)
Hebrew word for “help” – we hope that our son will always look to help those in need and do good for himself, his family, his friends and everyone he encounters.
His last name of course is Kapoano, a family name that has survived for (at least) hundreds of years. Much like the story of the rest of the Jews, our ancestors were driven out of Judea by the Romans, where they eventually reached Italy where they took on the name Capuano, as they lived in the city of Capua. Ultimately our family ended up in Greece, where they joined the Jewish community of Thessaloniki until the Germans destroyed it. But the Kapoanos survived and now with Jacob, we will endure.
Namesakes: Yitzchak (Liran’s paternal grandfather), Yosef (Jerry Mack’s Hebrew name), Ya’akov (Jack Bucher’s Hebrew name), Yisruly (Ruly – Liran’s father)
In addition to being the name of our ancient homeland of Israel, which is what brought Ariel and I together in the first place, this is also an alternate name for Jacob, which he was given after he fought an angel of God to a stalemate. In this we hope our son has the knowledge and wisdom of Jacob, as well as the strength and bravery of Yisrael.
Namesakes: Chaim (Liran’s uncle/Ruly’s brother), Chai for the year (18)
Uncle Chaim was a great guy, who was always there for his little brother. Chaim had a lot of the street smarts we hope Jacob has and was blessed with an amazing sense of humor. In Judaism, the number 18 corresponds to the word “Chai” which means life. It’s also traditionally associated with good luck. Since Jacob was born in a year which has the number 18 in it we hope he will bring us and everyone luck, happiness and that he will be full of life!
If we could choose one attribute from each of Jacob’s namesakes that we hope he is able to exemplify, this is what we would choose:
Jerry – selflessness
Jack – generosity
Jana/Yitzchak – survivor/fighter
Emmett – independence
Elimelech – humble
Chaim – sense of humor
And that’s that! Welcome to the family Jacob Ezra, we are already completely smitten by you!