sexy goat

What to blog about… what to blog about… hmmm. Should I blog about the ridiculously fun two days I have had as a “lady of leisure”? NY friends in town, saw the Vanity Fair exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery. Went to a birthday dinner in trendy Soho. So many cocktails, so little time. Yesterday- the most beautiful weather that might ever happen to London (I miss you, air conditioning). Me + three girls + a dog + Regent’s Park + 2 bottles of Prosecco. While the rest of the world was working. Or last night- new friends, delicious lebanese food… should I blog about these things?

No. Because they all pale in comparison to the earth-shattering discovery made yesterday by one Micah Eldred Utt, unofficial mayor of Charleston. It’s about my name.

I shouldn’t say “discovery” so much as “revisit.” For it’s not as if my mother didn’t know anything about my name when she chose it sometime circa April 12, 1976. Legend has it my mother read a book by Yael Dayan, Israeli writer and activist and daughter of a famous politician, and decided she loved the name. What my mother refuses to admit is that she never looked up the pronunciation. And so began a lifetime of my unusual name. Unusual because there are so few Jews and Israelis in Northern Virginia that everyone assumed I was named after an Ivy League. I have been called Harvard more times than we should discuss here. Unusual because my Hebrew School teachers and New York-y law school professors insisted on calling me Ya-el. They wouldn’t tolerate any bastardizations of my name. Unusual because I probably come off pretty white (against my will) but African-American women are constantly telling me how beautiful my name is- something I always take to be the highest of compliments…because:

Life seems way too short to be named something that 20 million other people are too. No offense to 95% of my friends and family of course, but I think it’s a good sign if you have trouble finding a name listed on this look-up service: SSA Baby Names. Then it’s a winner!

So anyway, I always knew Yael was Hebrew for “goat” and had vague recollections of some biblical account of a heroine who saves her Israeli people and somehow a goat is involved.

As a result of the murder of King Jabin’s army captain Sisera, God gave the victory to Israel. The praise given to ‘blessed’ Yael in the Bible, is given for her action.

This is the part of Deborah’s song (Judg. 5:23-27) that refers to the death of Sisera:

Extolled above women be Yael,
The wife of Heber the Kenite,
Extolled above women in the tent.
He asked for water, she gave him milk;
She brought him cream in a lordly dish.
She stretched forth her hand to the nail,
Her right hand to the workman’s hammer,
And she smote Sisera; she crushed his head,
She crashed through and transfixed his temples.
At her feet he curled himself, he fell, he lay still;
At her feet he curled himself, he fell;
And where he curled himself, let it be, there he fell dead.

So apparently Yael lured a man into her tent, tricked him with her hospitality, and then drove a stake through his head. My namesake. I am so proud.

A unique name is a conversation piece, and an almost requirement to be anything but run-of-the-mill. So give your kids a chance. Name them in Hebrew after a Nubian Ibex, or as Micah says, one sexy mountain goat.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “sexy goat

  1. Rebecca i.e. the Ensnarer

    Interesting post, Harvard. But what good is a unique name if the kid doesn’t get into the best daycard in the world?!

  2. yaelgutt

    True. And I just learned of an acquaintance in NY whose son just got rejected from FIVE daycares. That’s why I like Manhattan… your kids get to experience baseless judgment and soul-crushing rejection from a very young age. NYers don’t mess around with the “innocent” years.

  3. Jeremy

    Yael – Interesting that your name translates into “goat”. In hebrew, my last name translates into “gift from g-d” (i’m serious)….

  4. yaelgutt

    So apt Jeremy, sooooo aptttttttt.

  5. mira

    As one who also has an unusual name…I totally concur with and support the idea of naming children interesting and usual names BUT as someone who almost on a daily basis has to tell people how to say it and spell it…I also advise (and I can say this with a lot of authority!) future parents to think carefully about the choice of interesting and unique names…While I love my unique name, correcting people’s pronounciation and constantly telling people how to say/spell my name gets very old! I guess it’s a trade off for uniqueness but still 🙂
    love, myra, irma, mara, maria (just a few of the iterations of my name over the years!)

  6. yaelgutt

    “Gail” agrees with you.

  7. Nilda

    amen to that! I should know…

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