Category: Hebrew baby names
By Linda Rosenkrantz
The surprise top name for boys in 2013 was the Old Testament Noah, followed by the not so surprisingly high-on-the-list Jacob, Ethan, Daniel, Benjamin, David, Joseph, Joshua and Samuel—in other words many of the same biblical boys’ names that have been recycled for eons.
I thought that today, in commemoration of the Jewish High Holy Days, we would shake things up a bit and look at some Bible names that aren’t even in the Top 1000, but might be worthy of some consideration
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.
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.
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.
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).