My father chose my name, and that cemented my connection to Judaism. He named me after his mother, Pruva, who died in the Holocaust.
Pruve Weiss Adler, my father’s mother, who died in Auschwitz.
The “American” version of my name is Preeva. My parents were solidly Ashkenazic, which means that they believed in naming after the dead—I have an older cousin named Zipora Priva—and rabidly Zionist, which means Preeva Rivka is the name on my birth certificate. Daddy took to me shul on Friday nights, and we came early so he could talk to his friends and show me off a little: He would say: “Preeva, explain your name,” and I would straighten my dress, and recite:
“When God created man, on the sixth day he said to him, Pru U’Rvu Ee melu et ha’aretz, be fruitful and multiply and develop the earth. From that comes Pruva, which we pronounce here in America, Preeva.”
He set an example for me by putting on t’fillin every morning before work, even when he worked on Saturday.
He also took me to the Wailing Wall in 1968, and blessed me there:
He died in 1975, when I was 16, on June 5. His yahrtzeit this year is June 15.
I was just named President of Etz Chayim, an independent liberal synagogue in Palo Alto, and I am working on a book about the facts of his life. On Saturday, I am sponsoring the Oneg at Etz Chaim on June 16 (what I grew up calling a Kiddush) in his memory.
He was born in 1911 in a town called Munkach in the Austro-Hungarian empire. He was a Munkacher his whole life, but the borders moved so that his town was in four different countries in his lifetime. In 1918 Munkach became part of Czechoslovakia. In 1938, it became part of Germany, ruled by the Hungarians. In 1945, it became part of the Soviet Union. Sixteen years after he died, the town became part of the Ukraine.