Neviim Tovim, blogs by Gillian Gould Lazarus

Yahrzeit 30

Posted on: July 18, 2020

This week, I have what we call yahrzeit for my husband David Gould, that is to say, he died at this time of year. He died of cancer on 16 July thirty years ago, at the age of forty-one. Our children are now in their forties and late thirties and we still mourn. At the synagogue via Zoom this morning, many people spoke about their memories of David, an occasional leader of prayer services in the community, beautiful voice and beautiful appearance. Our rabbi said ‘I came to this community many years after David died and saw how people still spoke about him and still referred to you as Gill Gould.’

There is a lack of continuity in my names. Ten years after David died, when I was fifty, I married Mr Lazarus. We divorced, amicably enough, and I still wear his name, partly for logistical reasons – passport and bank account -and partly because I find it euphonic. Nasty people on Twitter sometimes compare me to Lazarus in the gospel of Saint John but not in a good way. Well, that is Twitter.

My name was Pressman. That was my father’s name and my mother’s but my sister and I got married and the name has disappeared from our inmmediate family. My first marriage was to a Mr Neuer, a name mispronounced on both sides of the Atlantic, so I have had four surnames and none of them really belongs to me. In Hebrew, my surname is Bat Yaacov, daughter of Jacob. Gila Bat Yaacov is the name on my ketuvot, the Hebrew marriage certificates, and the name by which I get called up to the reading of Torah in synagogue.

Most of us have numerous names. I am also called Mum, Auntie and Granny. Some of us have pet names and diminutives. Some are called names by bullies and internalize the name.

There are graves of unknown soldiers, commemorated by the epitaph, ‘Known to God.’ God also has many names, seventy-two, I believe is an estimate of the number, and answers to all of them.

‘Everyone has a name,’ said the poet Zelda Mishkovsky. Here is a translation of her poem and below that, the original Hebrew:

Everyone has a name
given to him by God
and given to him by his parents.
Everyone has a name
given to him by his stature
and the way he smiles.
and given to him by his clothing
Everyone has a name
given to him by the mountains
and given to him by the walls.
Everyone has a name
given to him by the stars
and given to him by his neighbors.
Everyone has a name
given to him by his sins
and given to him by his longing.
Everyone has a name
given to him by his enemies
and given to him by his love.
Everyone has a name
given to him by his holidays
and given to him by his work.
Everyone has a name
given to him by the seasons
and given to him by his blindness.
Everyone has a name
given to him by the sea and
given to him
by his death.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


  • L.Sordo: They always strike me as being immature, semi-literate and gullible.I assume they're late teens or under 30 left school at 16 as did I. I read every
  • Gillian Gould Lazarus: Thanks, L Sordo. One word I question here - 'kids'. Many of these participants are mature, one might say senior individuals. Observing over a period o
  • L. Sordo: This is an eye-opener. These kids have obviously got a lot of humanity and compassion but relentless anti-Israel propaganda outweighs their limited k
%d bloggers like this: