An article appeared Friday in Motherlode, the NYTimes Parenting blog inexplicably not called Father & Motherlode, titled My Jewish Daughter, Mary. As you may have gathered from the title, it featured the thoughts of Israeli citizen (resident?) and mystery novelist Devorah Blachor as she agonized over whether to name her Jewish Daughter “Mary.”
If the decision caused her such agony, you might astutely ask, why not just choose a different name? As it turns out, Devorah had little choice in the matter: she offered naming rights to her first-born, and he immediately settled on Mary.
Now, I’m not interested in writing about whether Mary is an appropriate name for a Jew. I know at least one Jewish Mary, and a whole crew of Jewish Chris and Christinas. Granted, they all converted to Judaism, but the point is that it’s in no way a crippling affliction; so long as Devorah doesn’t name her daughter Ursulah or Dorcas she’ll probably turn out fine. This wasn’t really worth bringing to the New York Times.
But I promised the stupid, and the stupid I’ve got. Unsurprisingly, it comes in the form of comments:
As far as I can tell, the Mary you are referring to (if one is to believe the old tales), was Jewish.
The fact that the Mary in question was in fact Jewish makes it hard to take this piece seriously.
I am joining the other commenters in my confusion as to why naming a Jewish daughter Mary would be odd. My first thought was that the name Mary seems quite Jewish to me, since I was taught that the mother of Jesus was a Jewish woman named Mary.
Wasnt Mary, mother of Christ, Jewish? Just saying [Another commenters’ response: “Yes, of course. Apparently the author of this feature had a rather narrow education.”]
The most famous Mary in history was Jewish.
Well, Mary must have been a Jewish name first!
Mary was a Jew. And it’s a common name among the Jews of the New Testament.
The original Mary was Jewish, and her son, Jesus, is probably the most famous Jewish man of all times.
I can’t tell if that last commenter is just piling on the stupid, or if he’s actually trying to make a coherent point: though the historical Mary was indeed Jewish, so was her son Jesus — and Jews very rarely name their children after him.
Again, I have no interest in whether Mary is a “Jewish name”, but Devorah’s dilemma quite obviously has little to do with what the name meant in 33AD Palestine but what it means to her and to other Jews today.