Taniel Yonah Sheintoch, and planting my elbows firmly on the table

When I was growing up, I have this distinct memory of being around the dinner table with my siblings and parents. In a moment of laziness or boredom, I’d put my elbows on the table and lean my head on my hands. “Elbows off the table”, my father would remind me, “you’re not an aunt or an uncle.” I know it doesn’t make a lot of sense, but I think that all dads have their own little dad-isms, and this was one of his. So it’s with enormous joy that I share with you today that I can officially put my elbows on the table during dinner without fear of recrimination. Eight days ago, my older sister Shuvi and her partner Debbie gave birth to Taniel Yonah Sheintoch, who had his bris (circumcision) and naming ceremony today.

The little guy, who my sister was carrying around for the past 9 months, is absolutely amazing and wonderful. According to my mother, he looks just like my sister did when she was born, with those squinty little Santo eyes (I have them too!) and a big shock of black hair. His birth is a huge event for the whole family, as he’s the first in the new generation. Lots of parental figures in the family now get to have grand and great added onto their titles, and I’ll admit that it’s pretty cool being an uncle.

More than anything else, I’ve been surprised at how amazing and delightful it is; surprised at the surprise, if you will. I mean, for nine months you know that this being is on his way, but that change anything about how you respond the moment he actually arrives. I felt somehow similar today at the bris, something that I, for one reason or another, hadn’t given a lot of thought to. But then, as the ceremony was going on, I found myself deeply moved and even in tears, along with so many others in my family. I think a big part of this was the sharing of this child’s life with so many of the people that care about him now, from family to friends. It’s almost like the bris makes his arrival official in some way.

Among other wonderful things, Tani (pronounced Tonny), is named after my grandfather John, whom I’ve written about previously. Yonah, his middle name, is the part that was dedicated to my grandfather’s memory. His first name, Taniel (Armenian for Daniel, but pronounced Tonny-el), is for Debbie’s aunt Toby.

I’m so excited to be a part of the little guy’s life, and look forward to supporting the new parents on their journey with him. They have all my blessings and more. As they say in the world of the Jews, Mazel Tov!

Pictures from the the bris and the first week of his life below.
Vodpod videos no longer available. Vodpod videos no longer available.

Update: I’ve been informed by well sourced parties that the elbows on the table bit is not in fact a dad-ism, but rather is a Lucy-ism,  Lucy being my grandmother on my dad’s side.  Among many other Lucy-isms, this one and “Waste not want not” were the most frequently heard during my childhood.

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3 Responses to “Taniel Yonah Sheintoch, and planting my elbows firmly on the table”


  1. 1 Andy January 29, 2009 at 12:22 am

    So adorable! Thanks for posting the pics Uncle Rafi!
    Mazel tov!
    Andy

  2. 2 Patty Bugland January 29, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    Dearest Uncle Rafi,
    You are discovering why I LOVE being an aunt to over two dozen and it gets better all the time. I am absolutely delighted for you and everyone. What a beautiful baby and a very fortunate one, too. Wait until Tani realizes just how fortunate he is to have all of you for family! Do tell him what wonderful, cherished friends you are, too.
    Much love and savor every moment of the life-long journey, taking as many photographs as you can, too!

    “Aunt Patty”

  3. 3 Judy Jones January 31, 2009 at 9:35 am

    Dear Rafi — Oh happiness, oh joy! So very pleased for you and your family especially your Mom on this great day. I plan to see the wonderful baby very soon.
    With love to you, Shuvi, Debbie and all the family.


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