From the NYTimes

Among other things this column and the appended comments raise the issue of the wisdom of letting toddlers name their new siblings. For the record I don't know why the columnist is so bent out of shape about naming a Jewish girl Mary. As the comments note and as I know from my own experience, there were many Jewish girls named Mary in my parents' and grandparents' generation. It is unusual, perhaps vanishingly so, for current Jewish infants to be named Mary, but I think that is in large part due to the fact that Mary has fallen out of fashion, period.


September 15, 2013 4:44 PM

A further thought--Mary was a not uncommon name for Jewish girls when newly arrived immigrants wanted their own names and those of their children to blend in, to be "American."  Now American Jews have more self-cofidence as it were and are less concerned about blending in.  The Ultra-Orthodox no longer bother with English names for civic use and give their children only Hebrew and/or Yiddish names, and the Modern Orthodox often use modern Israeli Hebrew names.  Those of the streams on the left, Reform and Conservative, and those who are secular give their children the whole gamut of fashionable names used by the populace at large and generally also give the child the Hebrew or Yiddish name of a (deceased) relative, this latter often even if the parents are not religious at all.  Thus Mary as a name no longer facilitates adjustment into American society and has grown so out of fashion that the columnist no longer even remembers that it was once (not that long ago) a fairly common name for Jewish women.

September 15, 2013 6:34 PM

While I know that my grandparents have a Jewish friend or two named Mary, I must admit that I've always found it to be funny. This might be in part because I only met my first contemporary named Mary when I was in university, so my only real association with the name was Catholicism (not even Christianity in general,) until I was in my 20s.

(There is something about that article that bugged me...)

By mk
September 15, 2013 9:40 PM

I can't speak to Jewish naming practices, but I did know a Jewish girl named Christina and one named Mary growing up, both of which were common names for the time.

If someone has strong feelings about certain names then perhaps allowing the three year old choose is not the best option. I chose my sister's name when I was 4, but it was from a list of 2 that was given to me by my parents.