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Category: Hebrew baby names

Jewish Baby Names: Happy Passover!

passover

By Nephele

As Passover approaches, a look at some of the names found in Jewish culture.

Yiddish names have a rich history, rooted in an older generation of Jewish people belonging to the Ashkenazic (from Germany and Eastern Europe) community. The Yiddish language evolved during medieval times from High German (influenced by Hebrew and some eastern European languages), and the word “Yiddish” itself literally means “Jewish.” Genealogists familiar with old U.S. Federal Census records will have noticed many a census record where the census taker recorded an immigrant’s language as being “Jewish” when it more properly should have been recorded as “Yiddish.”

While many fondly associate Yiddish names with their beloved grandparents and great-grandparents, Yiddish is nonetheless making a comeback. California‘s San Francisco Bay area is home to Der Bay, a widely circulated Anglo-Yiddish newsletter of events, and such movies as Fiddler on the Roof and the animated An American Tail (both featuring Yiddish-named characters) are fondly familiar to mainstream America.

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channukah

By Hannah Katsman, A Mother in Israel

The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah falls on Wednesday evening, November 27 in 2013–coinciding with the American Thanksgiving–and continues until nightfall on Thursday, December 5.

Hanukkah celebrates the victory of the Jewish people, led by the Maccabee family, over the Greeks who had defiled the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. According to tradition, only one bottle of pure oil was found to light the menorah (candelabra), yet it miraculously lasted for eight nights. Hanukkah also commemorates the spiritual victory over the materialistic, Hellenistic culture.  Traditional foods include potato pancakes and jelly doughnuts, both fried in oil.

With eight nights of candle-lighting, we have eight chances to choose a terrific Hanukkah name.

In honor of the holiday, here are eight popular Israeli baby name ideas. The numbers reflect the popularity in Israel for boys or girls in 2012.

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jewish

In honor of Passover, we invited Israel-based Hannah Katsman to guest blog on Jewish baby names appropriate to this meaningful holiday, many of which are popular in Israel today.

Passover, which falls this year on March 25th to April 2nd, commemorates the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt. Passover is also the holiday of spring, and so provides parents with a wide variety of themes for naming babies.

Passover names fall into two groups—traditional names, including Biblical figures from the Passover story, and more modern names reflecting seasonal themes.

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Israeli Baby Names

israeli

To commemorate the Feast of Purim this weekend and the other major Jewish holidays coming up on the calendar, we turned to Israel-resident Hannah Katsman for an overview of current trends in Israeli baby names.

When Israelis are choosing names for their babies, they tend to focus on meaning as much as the sound of the name. And even though Israel has become more westernized, most parents continue to choose Hebrew names.

It’s true that most traditional biblical names like Rivka (Rebecca)  and Moshe (Moses) cannot be considered trendy except in the most religious circles. Yiddish and other ethnic names are out, as are the feminization of biblical names like Israela, Raphaela and Shimona or Simona–though Gavriella is one that is coming back.

The most popular Israeli baby names are short, rarely over two syllables, and they are often unisex.

There are differences among the various Jewish communities in Israel, with some names found only in secular communities and others only in religious ones. Secular Israelis don’t usually give middle names, while religious ones do. They might choose a modern name for the first name, and a more traditional one for the second name, after a relative.

Trends in Israeli baby  names include nature, weather words (boy—Sa’ar, storm), and Israeli place names (unisex—Yarden, Jordan). Other popular themes are water (unisex—Agam, lake), light, music (unisex—Tzlil, note), animals, and angels like Uriel. A few biblical names have made a comeback or stayed in style, including Daniel (unisex), Noa (girl), Rachel (girl), and Assaf (boy).

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angel5

Most of us are familiar with the names of at least a few angels—after all, archangels Michael and Gabriel and to a lesser extent Raphael, have had widespread and long-lasting popularity over the years.

But there is a profusion of other angelic creatures whose names are not as well known.  Thought of as messengers of light, angels are seen as reflecting God’s radiance.  There are Biblical angels, seraphim and cherubs, and guardian angels who oversee various days, months, Zodiac signs, natural elements and virtues.  There are angels in Persian and other Eastern religions and mythologies, and angels in works of fiction.

Then of course there is the whole family of straightforward Angel names–Angela, Angelica, Angelo, et al, that mean ‘angel’ or ‘messenger’; Evangeline, whose meaning,  ‘good messenger’ relates to angel, and Seraphina, which is derived from the word seraphim.

Here, from various sources are 25 angel names worth considering:

  1. Abraxos – ancient name attributed to an angel
  2. Arael – angel of birds
  3. Cael –an angel ruling over the Zodiac sign of Cancer
  4. Calliel — a throne angel invoked to bring prompt help over adversity
  5. Charoum – angel of silence
  6. Dabria – one of five angels who transcribed the books that the Hebrew prophet Ezra dictated
  7. Dara – angel of rains and rivers in Persian mythology
  8. Dina – guardian angel of learning and wisdom
  9. Ezriel—an angel’s name discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls.
  10. Hariel –  the archangel who rules over December, the dawn and Capricorn; also the angel of tame animals and ruler of science and the arts
  11. Irin – the name of twin angels who constitute the supreme judgment of the heavenly court
  12. Janiel – angel ruling Tuesday and the east wind
  13. Javan – the guardian angel of Greece
  14.  Kemuel – chief of the seraphim who stands at the window of heaven
  15. Laila, Lailah, Layla –the angel of conception who oversees and protects childbirth
  16. Nabu – a recording angel in heaven
  17. Nitika – Native American name meaning angel of precious stones
  18. Rabia – one of the ten angels accompanying the sun on its daily course
  19. Rachiel – angel who rules Venus and governs sexuality
  20. Raziel – an archangel who guards the secrets of the universe, the angel of mysteries
  21. Sarea – another of the five angels who transcribed the books the prophet Ezra dictated
  22. Tariel—the angel of summer
  23. Uriel – angel of the month of September, of those born under the signs of Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn; an angel of creativity
  24. Yael/Jael – a cherub who attends the throne of God
  25. Zaniel – angel who rules Mondays and the sign of Libra

Do you have a favorite angel name of your own?

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