Birth announcement

Chung-Mau and I are thrilled to announce the birth of our second son, Ezra KangMing Cheng.


If you are able to, please join us in celebrating his brit milah. 

You can also learn more about why we chose his name

Add your reaction Share

My name explained

Ezra minutes after being bornOur family is following Jewish and Chinese traditions in determining our children's names. In English and Hebrew, we're honoring a deceased relative who made an meaningful impact in our lives. Our hope is that they will help watch over our children and that by connecting them to a generation they didn't know, the strength, resilience, and love of our forbearers will continue on. 

His namesake

Ezra is the first to be named in honor of Elsie Goldie Rubenstein Minster, of blessed memory. Grandma Elsie was born in Chicago, Illinois. She was a firecracker who always spoke her mind. Her parents both died young. Elsie, her sister and brother, went to live with an aunt and uncle in Chicago. Becoming an orphan at a young age, Elsie was determined to make her way in life. She lied about her age (and her experience level) to get her first job at 13 and didn't stop working until she had kids. 

When her husband Sam's family started moving west, Elsie was determined to stay near her family. Papa Sam quit his jobs in Chicago and Elsie had several more lined up for him the next day. He ended up giving her an ultimatum - Sam was following his mother to California and Elsie could accompany him or be left without a spouse.

That's how my father and his family ended up moving to East LA. (Several years later, they moved again to Fairfax.) In Chicago, Marshall attended an orthodox yeshiva and was quite good at Talmud study. In Los Angeles, he went to public school and moved from spending hours wrestling with legal conversations to bowling and the race track. (The Talmud study did lead him to become a lawyer.) Elsie kept a watchful eye on all three of her children, including Marshall's older brother Sheldon and younger sister, Maxine. 

Elsie also ensured our family continued to keep some of the Jewish laws. When they got married, she asked my parents to keep Kosher so she'd always have a place to go on Passover. And that, in part, is why Pesach is such a meaningful holiday for me - since it was always the one celebration that took place at my house. When I moved to Chicago, I made a point of coming home for seder. That was the last seder I shared with Grandma Elsie. My boyfriend at the time accompanied me. And when I introduced Elsie to my Catholic Latino boyfriend she said, "Christian? Why didn't you just name yourself Jesus?" 

That sums up Elsie in a nutshell. What's in her head is out of her mouth. I think she'd be surprised that it's possible to find greater depth to Judaism with a non-Jewish spouse. Honestly, the MinsterCheng family is deeply and passionately Jewish because of the space Chung-Mau created for us to experience its spiritual core.

Hebrew name

Ezra was a scribe and priest in Biblical times. He was born in Babylon and rose to prominence because of his language skills and intellect. Around 457 BCE, the King of Persia, Artaxerxes, appointed Ezra to a position in Israel and provided funds to build the second temple. When he arrived in Jerusalem, Ezra was appalled at how lax Jews had become in their observance. He particularly denounced intermarriage and encouraged men to abandon their non-Jewish wives. (Obviously, that is one aspect of his legacy we strongly reject.) He also read the entire Torah aloud in Jerusalem, which is part of the legacy that brought us regularly scheduled (and clearly defined by the calendar) Torah readings in our services. 

Chinese traditions

Many Chinese families follow a tradition of naming everyone of the same generation in a particular way. For our children, this means their Mandarin names begin with Kang and their Cantonese names begin with Hong.

Our second son's name is KangMing and HongMeng. It means peace and understanding. We appreciate the meaning and I particularly enjoy the echo of Minster in his Mandarin name.

1 reaction Share