The letters next to the bird are “tsippor” in Hebrew.

(Friday is your artist’s birthday, and the one present I want is for you to keep voting BICP!)

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Sparrow: Hang on a second. Since when do you want me to have a “strong connection to my heritage”? It’s not like your ancestors have been pagan for hundreds of years. And you’ve always told me how Judaism was an oppressive patriarchal hegemony!

Mrs. Applebaum: Well, it is! And I sent you to Hebrew school, didn’t I?

Sparrow: For like two years! I don’t remember any of it!

Mrs. Applebaum: Which should leave you fitting right in with all the other non-practicing Jewish kids . . .

Sparrow: You named me Sparrow Elbereth. The only way that could have been more New Age-y is if the middle name had come first.

Mrs. Applebaum: Not at all! Sparrows are very significant in Jewish mysticism! At least, sort of significant. At least, I know they’re mentioned.

Souls are often described as bird-like, and the word tsippor is used both for birds in general and sparrows in particular.

Your name in Hebrew would be something like Zipporah, the same as Moses’ wife. The Rabbi Isaac Luria says that sparrows chirp because they can see the peaceful descent of the soul after death.

Sparrow: Wow. That’s a lot deeper than I thought it was . . .

Mrs. Applebaum: I thought about another modernization of Tsippor, but decided Sparrow sounded best.

Sparrow: Really? What did I almost get named?

Mrs. Applebaum: Twitter.

Sparrow: Ooh. Dodged a bullet there.