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).