The name Shoshana came to my attention when studying a song of Purim – “Shoshanat Yaakov”. The musical sound of the word Shoshana appeals to me. Then I have learned two thinks about the word Shoshana:
1st – is a Hebrew word meaning “rose”;
2nd – in the “Song of Songs” 2:2 – God refers to the Jewish nation as a Shoshana – “As a rose among the thorns, so is My beloved among the daughters”. The “rose” – the nation of Israel -, although surrounded by nations which believed in strange gods, remains firm in her faith. So, the musical sound of the word and its significance in Shir Hashirim, are well-founded reasons to choose Shoshana as my Hebrew name.
As Rebbitzen Navah explained to me, which, of course, is consistent with the explanation by Rabbi Maurice Lamm, in his book “Welcome to Judaism”, a female convert is called bat Sarah. So, my Hebrew name would be Shoshana bat Sarah. Beautiful name, but I didn’t felt comfortable with it. Somehow, I felt incomplete…I need to have a mother and a father.
Why not Yehuda? After all, we, the Anusim, believe that we descend from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. It makes sense. But the most important reason to choose Yehuda concerns the meaning of the word Yehuda.
I have learned that the word Jew (Yehudi in Hebrew) comes from the name Judah, or Yehudah, as it is pronounced in Hebrew. The word Yehuda comes from the word lehodot, which means to thank. Upon Yehuda’s birth, Leah, his mother, exclaimed “hapaam odeh et Hashem” – “this time I thank God”. This means that Yehuda’s birth is characterized of feelings of gratitude.
Finally I had now doubts about the Hebrew name I would like to bear: Shoshana bat Yehuda v’Sarah.
My journey into Judaism under the guidance of Rabbi Jules Harlow has bean an inspiration. Every morning when I say modah ani, I thank my dependence on God, with a deep feeling of gratitude. So, the opportunity to become a Jew is like a reborn. The choice of the name Shoshana bat Yehuda v’Sarah describes my feelings about becoming a Jew.
Lisbon, April 27th, 2014