Lately, I have been asking people to pray for my wife’s health. We are anxiously awaiting the results of a biopsy performed on “something” (excuse the medical term) that they found in her stomach. No, they have ruled out leftover cholent beans.
Now, I don’t really care if you are a black-hatted, beard-to-the-ground Satmar Hasid, a lesbian, pregnant Reform rabbi, Christian, Buddhist, Shinto, Muslim, or really frum agnostic. If you believe that there is some Unified Force that can control the universe, do me a favor and ask Him/Her/It to please cut Stella some slack.
In the Jewish tradition, we believe that using a person’s Hebrew name is important. I’m not sure why because believe me, G-d knows Stella very well. If he wanted to give us all an example of how chesed (kindness) should be performed, then Stella is the super-model. The only one who would say that Stella is not the embodiment of kindness would be Stella herself — and that kind of proves my point.
I am not surprised that through Facebook, we have received an outpouring of support from all the communities that we have ever lived. We have gotten messages from friends we met by the snowy hills of Colgate University (where we first met about twenty-six years ago) through Potomac, Maryland to our present community of Neve Daniel, Israel. There are people all over who have been touched by Stella’s kindness.
But back to the name thing. Stella’s Hebrew name is Tzuriya Kochevet, and I bet you won’t meet another with the same name. It is no secret that Stella converted to Judaism. In fact, she liked the process so much she did it twice. The first time was under the auspices of the Conservative movement, the second time was in the Orthodox style. (For non-Jewish friends reading, the different streams of Judaism have different standards for whether certain fish are kosher, what’s okay to do on a Saturday afternoon, and..oh yeah, what a convert needs to do in order to eat herring at a Bat Mitzvah as a member of the tribe. [Not really. -Ed.])
So before the first conversion, the Rabbis asked Stella to come up with a Hebrew name. That’s a great benefit to being a convert — you can pick out your own name. So Stella decided to use a Hebrew phrase (Tzuri-ya) that means “G-d is my rock.” Good name for someone who always remains calm no matter what the situation. Space aliens could be landing all over and Stella will remember whose turn it is to drive carpool to Tae Kwan Do camp. If that person has been captured by little green men, she will drive the kids herself before defending the planet.
At the Orthodox conversion, they asked her for her Hebrew name and she mentioned that she was already Tzuriya. One of the Rabbis suggested that she add a name to signify the second conversion. She was on the spot and couldn’t just come up with an appropriate moniker for life. So someone suggested she just use a form of the Hebrew word for “star” which is what “Stella” means anyway. So she chose “Kochevet.”
So when she finished with the Rabbis and told me her new name was Tzuriya Kochevet, I pointed out that her new name really meant ‘G-d is my rock star.” (You see why I doubt you will meet anyone else with the same name.)
So please, if you have ever been touched by Stella’s kindness, take a quick moment to ask G-d to make sure that everything will be completely alright.
And if he asks who you are talking about, just say “You are her rock star.”
Not only will he know who it is, I bet he will give a (metaphorical) smile.
Thank you for your prayers. May we receive good news very soon