I was the seventh child in my family. My parents were all out of names. Everyone who needed someone named after them had been appeased. The story goes that it was my great uncle Bill who solved the problem by suggesting that my Hebrew name be Batsheva (meaning seventh daughter) and that I be called Betsy. So I grew up Betsy and liked it fine (except when people used it to refer to their car or their cow). It never occurred to me to want to change it.
I moved to the West Coast. In a guided meditation when I was 28, I was taken to meet “the inner teacher.” I could not see her, but I heard her name clearly: “Sophia.” Later that week, riding my bicycle, I caught a glimpse of gold in the gutter and stopped to pick up an I.D. bracelet. “Sophia.” Again.
I told a friend this story and mentioned that I was thinking about being called by it. (Which I didn’t know until I heard myself say it.) She was enthusiastic and immediately began using it and introducing me to others as Sophia. It was surprisingly vulnerable, like being called a very intimate name by strangers, or having some dark, secret part of myself exposed. Betsy had always felt like a child’s name but Sophia was definitely a woman and it took some growing into. When I found out that Sophia meant wisdom, it made using it even more of a challenge.
One day in Vancouver I happened to bump into my cousin in this synagogue. She had been researching our family tree and had come across a great great aunt on my father’s side named Sophia. Sophia Rosenberg, just like me. So there it is. I am named after someone after all. It turns out that she never had children. Sophia Batsheva. The seventh daughter of wisdom.