It’s not every day that you receive an anonymous tip from a man claiming to be selling the naming rights to his newborn daughter.
I recently spoke with the man who claimed responsibility for a Craigslist ad offering the naming rights for his child for a minimum of $20,000. The posting was later flagged on Craigslist and removed, though not before the man fielded four inquiries.
The ad said: “We are a Jewish family that just gave birth to our 9th daughter. We would like to sell the opportunity to name our daughter to someone else. This is an excellent opportunity for someone who may not have had children, or someone looking to honor a relative, etc. Or even to honor someone’s memory that was killed in the Holocaust.”
In an effort to establish his credibility, the man emailed JTA a photo of a wristband from the hospital dated Jan. 22, 2014.
Ultimately, the parents chose the Hebrew name Rina — Hebrew for joy — independently of the influence of any bidders.
Here’s my interview with the mystery dad:
Q: I have seen some strange Jewish things on Craigslist, but this is right up there with the strangest. Is this real?
A: It is totally real. This is my ninth daughter; we’re out of names basically. We needed the money, and I asked my wife if we could do it. I thought she would turn it down, but she said we could try it.
Q: How did you come up with this idea?
A: I remember hearing in the news that someone else did the same thing. We tried to post it to eBay, but it was more complicated than we thought, so we posted it on Craigslist.
Q: What do you do professionally?
A: I’m a schoolteacher in Lakewood (N.J.).
Q: What made you wait until now to try this as opposed to, say, daughter No. 7 or No. 8?
A: We’re out of relatives to name after. For each one, we chose another relative. We thought it might be a nice thing; there might be an elderly person who passed away or someone without any children. Whoever would do this, we would consider them like family.
Q: You mean you plan to stay in touch with the winning bidder afterwards?
A: We’d stay in touch with her, invite her to the bat mitzvah, the wedding.
Q: What would you do if you raised the minimum bid of $20,000?
A: I would use the funds to support my child.
Q: What’s the most expensive part of raising a child in Lakewood?
A: Definitely [yeshiva] tuition. And rent.
Q: Aside from your wife, who else knows about this?
A: I didn’t tell a soul. I’m a little embarrassed.
Q: Then why did you choose to reach out to a news agency?
A: I know you guys do press releases; maybe somebody out in Florida has someone they’d like to name her for.
Q: Are you secretly pulling for a particular name choice by a sponsor?
A: We used up all the favorites already. We’re open to all ideas, something unique.
Q: You mention in the ad that you don’t want certain names.
A: Right — nothing crazy, like “Box.” Preferably something biblical.
Q: What about “Mooshy”? That’s biblical.
A: I think “Mooshy” would be out. We’re Sephardic, so I’m not sure we would do “Chaya Shprintze” either. But maybe for the right price. (Laughs)
Q: If this doesn’t come through, what would be your next option to fundraise for the new addition in the family?
A: The truth is I’m not really relying on this. But I’m not really sure. I’m totally dependent on God and I know that He won’t abandon me.