Tzniut means modesty, but for most women this doesn’t mean forsaking beauty, fashion or style. From bright and stylish tichels to modern-styled sheitels or below-the-knee length designer skirts straight from the runway, fashion and style trends are not lost on the modern Jewish woman.
Jewish women know that the right fashion and styling can improve self-esteem, help women develop a strong sense of identity, and improve a woman’s relationship with her own definition of tzniut. So it’s no surprise that one of the biggest trends in fashion and style, personalized name jewelry, is hotter than ever among women who are observant.
Names Are Meaningful
In Judaism, your name is significant. Whether it’s your given name, Hebrew name, or a name you’ve chosen for yourself, your name is one of the most important things to you. And according to Rabbi Shraga Simmons,
“The naming of a Jewish child is a most profound spiritual moment. The Sages say that naming a baby is a statement of her character, her specialness, and her path in life. For at the beginning of life we give a name, and at the end of life a "good name" is all we take with us. (see Talmud – Brachot 7b; Arizal – Sha'ar HaGilgulim 24b)”
Not only are names meaningful, they provide a deeper spiritual connection. According to the Arizal, a name is the path of which energy from the soul reaches the body. But like many things in Judaism, there is a bit of a contradiction. On one hand your name is your essence, on the other hand (as we learn in the Parshah Names in Exodus) your name is an external reference and your essence is deep inside your soul – thus the Jewish people did not lose their identities while in Egypt. So which is it? Both.
There are endless discussions of the role of names around Shabbat tables around the world on this topic and probably as many opinions as there are Jewish people. And while there is no one answer, it is an interesting topic that can easily go on until from lighting the candles until havdalah!
A Thoughtful Gift
A gift of personalized name jewelry can be particularly significant and meaningful for a girl or woman during times of change. For example, to celebrate coming of age events, like a bat mitzvah/13th birthday, high school or college graduation, engagement, marriage, or birth of a child. A name necklace is probably one of the most appropriate gifts for a woman who has undergone a name change, particularly as part of a conversion process. A Hebrew name necklace is a great option for these meaningful milestones.
Many Jewish women choose to take the last name of their groom and what a wonderful way to celebrate a wedding with a gift of an initial pendant with her new initials. It’s a fun way to assert a woman’s new identity as a wife. The birth of a woman’s first child is also an opening of a new identity and a great time for a new mom to reflect on who she is.
Keeping It Modest
There is no magic “modest” name necklace, but purchasing a chain length that’s a bit longer will allow you to easily wear it on top of your clothes if you don’t want to reveal your neckline. Or make it something special just for you and keep it tucked under your clothing.
Buying an initial pendant might be a good idea if you already have chains that you love at a comfortable length. You can also use jewelry as a way to have a constant reminder of your faith – name necklaces come with Jewish stars, Kabbalah themes or even get a personalized message with an inspiring message on it. Even if you’re abiding by Ulpan/School dress codes, modesty is still in the eye of the wearer, so consider your intentions and act accordingly.
Keep It Humble
For women and gift givers who want to avoid ostentatiousness, we have a few tips. Real silver is beautiful, economical, and keeps it value – it’s a win-win choice for any occasion or just because.
And for those who love solid gold, but don’t want to be too flashy, try going for one necklace that you’ll love to wear every day instead of many different ones. Solid gold is beautiful and its value does improve over time. It’s also a bit more durable than silver, and it won’t be affected by minerals like silver can be.
So while a piece of personalized jewelry might be custom made in gold, it’s still worth its weight in gold and can be traded in and melted for its weighted value if needed. Gold plated necklaces are attractive, but will not improve in value and are usually not redeemed for exchange/cash.
Personalized jewelry is a meaningful way for a woman to celebrate her own name and can be worn with modesty. Fashion and style are as tznuit as a woman wants them to be. There is nothing intrinsically immodest about wearing personalized jewelry! Choose with intention and give with humility in mind.