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‘Jerusalem’ Not Kosher Baby Name, Brussels Says

City Hall clerk refused to register name of Israeli couple’s newborn

Stephanie Butnick
August 21, 2013
Jerusalem: the city, not the newborn(MARCO LONGARI/AFP/Getty Images)
Jerusalem: the city, not the newborn(MARCO LONGARI/AFP/Getty Images)

Bad news for an Israeli couple living in Brussels who wanted to name their newborn Alma Jerusalem: the City of Brussels City Hall refused to register the name, saying they were unable to issue a birth certificate “because Jerusalem does not appear on a list of approved names for children born in the country,” JTA reports.

The couple was told by a city hall clerk, however, that they could get the child’s birth certificate once they procured a letter from the Israeli embassy validating the name, though the father pointedly noted that ‘Bethlehem’ was a Brussels-approved moniker.

The odd news out of Belgium is somewhat reminiscent of the Tennessee couple that went to court earlier this month to decide which last name their eight-month-old son would use—and instead the judge changed the baby’s first name from Messiah to Martin. (“The word Messiah is a title, and it’s a title that has only been earned by one person, and that one person is Jesus Christ,” the judge said.)

What’s in a name? For Jerusalem and Messiah, apparently, quite a lot.

Stephanie Butnick is chief strategy officer of Tablet Magazine, co-founder of Tablet Studios, and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.