Category: Jewish baby names
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 groupsâtraditional names, including Biblical figures from the Passover story, and more modern names reflecting seasonal themes.
Todayâs guest blogger, writer Jon Finkel, has come up with his own idiosyncratic set of baby-naming rulesâsee if you agree.
With the average life expectancy in the United States pushing 80 years, picking the wrong name for your kid could turn out to be an eight-decade mistake. Think about that. In eighty years youâll be dead; the house you lived in, the cars you drove, the clothes you wore, will probably all be recycled, rebuilt or destroyed; but your son, who is now living in an old-age facility in 2091, has to go by the name Mason S., because Mason A., Mason G., Mason L. and Mason P. live on the same floor in his retirement home, were all born in 2011 and also had parents who went the unoriginal route and simply picked the trendiest name available.
So though Mason is a solid name, when it comes to your child in 2011, unless you have always loved Mason, or you are named Mason (or work as a mason) and your son is going to be a Mason Junior or a mason, the name is just too popular. This thought led me to compose what Iâll call “The Not Another Mason and Other Rules for Baby Namingâ list.
To commemorate theÂ FeastÂ ofÂ Purim this weekend and the otherÂ major Jewish holidays coming up on the calendar,Â we turned to Israel-residentÂ Hannah Katsman for anÂ 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.
Itâs true that most traditional biblical names like Rivka (Rebecca)Â 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–thoughÂ 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 differencesÂ among the variousÂ Jewish communities in Israel, with some names found only in secular communities and others only in religious ones. Secular Israelis donât 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 Â names include nature, weather words (boyâSaâar, storm), and Israeli place names (unisexâYarden, Jordan). Other popular themes are water (unisexâAgam, lake), light, music (unisexâTzlil, 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).
Most of us are familiar with the names of at least a few angelsâafter all, archangels Michael and Gabriel and to a lesser extent Raphael, have had widespread and long-lasting popularity over the years.
But thereÂ is a profusion of otherÂ angelic creaturesÂ whose names are not as well known. Â Thought of as messengers of light,Â angels are seen as reflecting Godâs radiance.Â There are Biblical angels, seraphim and cherubs, and guardian angels who oversee various days, months, Zodiac signs, natural elements and virtues.Â 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, Â ’good messenger’ relates to angel, and Seraphina, which is derived from the word seraphim.
Here, from various sources are 25 angel names worth considering:
- Abraxos â ancient name attributed to an angel
- Arael â angel of birds
- Cael âan angel ruling over the Zodiac sign of Cancer
- Calliel — a throne angel invoked to bring prompt help over adversity
- Charoum â angel of silence
- Dabria â one of five angels who transcribed the books that the Hebrew prophet Ezra dictated
- Dara â angel of rains and rivers in Persian mythology
- Dina â guardian angel of learning and wisdom
- Ezrielâan angelâs name discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls.
- Hariel –Â the archangel who rules over December, the dawn and Capricorn; also the angel of tame animals and ruler of science and the arts
- Irin â the name of twin angels who constitute the supreme judgment of the heavenly court
- Janiel â angel ruling Tuesday and the east wind
- Javan â the guardian angel of Greece
- Â Kemuel â chief of the seraphim who stands at the window of heaven
- Laila, Lailah, Layla âthe angel of conception who oversees and protects childbirth
- Nabu â a recording angel in heaven
- Nitika â Native American name meaning angel of precious stones
- Rabia â one of the ten angels accompanying the sun on its daily course
- Rachiel â angel who rules Venus and governs sexuality
- Raziel â an archangel who guards the secrets of the universe, the angel of mysteries
- Sarea â another of the five angels who transcribed the books the prophet Ezra dictated
- Tarielâthe angel of summer
- Uriel â angel of the month of September, of those born under the signs of Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn; an angel of creativity
- Yael/Jael â a cherub who attends the throne of God
- Zaniel â angel who rules Mondays and the sign of Libra
Do you have a favorite angel name of your own?
Â Guest blogger Hilary Zalon, founder of thecradle.com, explains the modern tradition of the Jewish naming ceremony for girls.
I have two wonderful daughters. And while I was never averse to having a little boy, Iâm relieved that I was able to skip the Jewish ritual to welcome a son. In fact, the relatively new Jewish ceremony to welcome a daughter is much more up my alley.
If youâre not Jewish, or arenât familiar with these traditions, hereâs a quick 101: The male ceremony is a âbrit milahâ – also known as a bris - the ceremony for circumcising an eight-day-old boy. The female ceremony goes by a number of names, including âsimchat batâ (rejoicing of the daughter), all to celebrateâŠget thisâŠnaming your daughter!
No sharp implements. No rush to get a party together in eight days while recovering from the actual delivery of the baby. And we get to celebrate one of the most enjoyable parts of welcoming a baby â choosing a name. In this instance, weâre celebrating the Hebrew name, so we get to pick even more names!
Many refer to a baby naming as a âmodernâ or âcontemporaryâ tradition, and while there are signs that baby naming rituals happened hundreds of years ago, it really became a more recognized option for parents in the â70âs (likely coinciding with the rise of feminism and the increase in bat-mitzvahs). Since it is so new (forty years is nothing when youâre dealing with a history thatâs over 5,000 years old), it is still up to personal interpretation and the ceremony can really represent your familyâs personality and style.
Weâre not a very religious family, but we do have a strong pride in our heritage and our Jewish community. For both of our daughters, we waited until they were 9-10 months old, which is probably a lot longer than most people wait. Some parents have a naming ceremony just eight days after the birth (echoing the male circumcision ritual). Others say a blessing for their daughter when they are called to the Torah â sometimes as early as the first Sabbath after the birth.
At our event, the rabbi led a very simple and beautiful ceremony at our home, which included a welcome prayer, description of the ceremony, an explanation of the names we chose, a blessing for our daughter, and a blessing for everyone. As with most of our Jewish traditions, there is wine and food. Those two are always a hit. (Although finding good bagels in L.A. is still a struggle.)
As for the names we chose:
Our older daughterâs given name is Sasha Leah (honoring my grandmother, Sylvia, and my husbandâs grandmother, Leah). The Hebrew name is traditionally the Hebrew name of the person she is named for. Since my grandmother didnât have a Hebrew name that was meaningful to her, we were able to choose a name that was actually a second-runner up to her given name. And her middle name was a no-brainer since her given middle name is already a Hebrew name. She received her Hebrew name, Sivan Leah, right after my dad joked, âAnyone want a slice of Sivan Leah cake?â
Our younger daughter is EsmĂ© Juliette (for my grandmother, Eva, and my husbandâs grandfather, Jack). Ever since I read JD Salingerâs Nine Stories in school, I was stuck on the name EsmĂ© â but I hadnât read or seen any of the Twilight books or movies, so when I learned about the character named EsmĂ©, my heart sank a bit â only out of a little sadness that this âsecretâ gem of a name (actually popular in South Africa and a few European companies) might become more well known! Her Hebrew name, Chava Yael, was another half-given: Chava is the Hebrew name for Eva/Eve. But since her middle name was for a male, we felt we could choose any name we liked that started with a Y (the Hebrew alphabet doesnât use Jâs). We were able to avoid my fatherâs imminent joke that her middle name should be âPiece-aâ so his granddaughters could be âChava Piece-a Sivan Leahâ cake.
Hilary Zalon founded TheCradle.com, an award-winning online resource for expectant and new parents. Since the sale of the site to giggle, Hilary has been exploring a number of different ventures, her favorite being enjoying more time with her daughters and husband.