What’s in a name? “Everything,” explained Rabbi Yanky Majesky of Chabad of North Orlando. The Chabad movement is a sect of Orthodox Judaism that is known for its openness and acceptance of Jews of all backgrounds. In this instance, Rabbi Majesky was not only referring to a name, but a naming ceremony — a lifecycle event for a Jewish baby girl. During the ceremony, a name of Hebrew origin is bestowed upon a baby girl during a torah service, often surrounded by friends and family. Many Jewish girls have a secular name along with a Hebrew one, which becomes part of their religious identity.
On July 12 the Rabbi presided over an extra-special naming ceremony, one on behalf of his third daughter, just 5 days old, as she blissfully slept in her mother’s arms during the entire service. The new baby joins big sisters Chaya, 3, and Batsheva, 1 1/2. The Rabbi explained to the full house of family, friends and congregants at the Homewood Suites Hotel in Lake Mary that he and wife Chanshy had blessed their new baby with the name Shterna. The name honored his beloved, late paternal grandmother. Rabbi Majesky said, “A child’s Hebrew name reflects upon their soul,” and it is the Majesky’s hope that baby Shterna takes on the constellation of strength that connected his grandmother with her family, community and faith.
“Shterna” translates from the Hebrew word meaning “star,” and Grandma Shterna (“Bubbe” in the traditional Yiddish) led the family as a ray of light through dark times in communist Russia, risking her life as her home became a local Judaic center (and local matzo bakery for Passover).
Ironically, the newest Shterna, or shining star, was born on Friday, July 7, or the 17th of the Hebrew month of Tamuz (following the lunar calendar), which represents a dark time in Judaic history. During this time of year, for traditional Jews, there are no weddings and celebrations (births and related ceremonies supersede this, as babies arrive at all times of year). In fact, her actual day of birth falls on one of the saddest days of the Jewish calendar year, a day of fasting in remembrance of the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Rabbi Majesky shared that initially he had a hard time making sense of his daughter’s birth date, balancing his own personal joy within a time that coincides with a tragedy for the Jewish people.
It was not long before Rabbi Majesky found that little “Shterna” was also a source of light, like her namesake, bringing a twinkle of happiness to a somber Hebrew month.
When the famous Rebbe of the Chabad movement, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson (known as “The Rebbe”), was still alive, he wrote a personal letter to each new baby born in the community. Rabbi Yanky Majesky shared that his sister, also named Shterna, had received such a letter upon her birth in 1990. The letter was read to the congregation in Hebrew by paternal grandfather Rabbi Chaim Majesky, and in English by Rabbi Chaim Thomas, connecting the littlest Majesky to both her larger family, the community and their beloved Rebbe.
Shterna had the honor of being named by three rabbis, her father and paternal grandfathers Rabbi Chaim Majesky of Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and Rabbi Sholom Dubov of Orlando, bestowing their blessings, love and torah upon baby Shterna on this blessed day. The joyous occasion was reflected in the smiling eyes of grandmothers Mrs. Risha Majesky (paternal) and Mrs. Devorah Leah Dubov (maternal).
Rabbi Chaim Majesky said, “It is an honor to see my grandchildren grow, and it is a blessing to see my son grow as a rabbi, leading a service surrounded by a loving and supportive community.”