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Happy Hanukkah Names for Girls

Baila, Kaila and Laila

By Linda Rosenkrantz

This year, the beginning of Hanukkah falls on Christmas Day and so, in the interest of fair play, we will commemorate the Jewish Festival of Lights today with a selection of Jewish girl names and our Christmas choices tomorrow.

“Jewish” names cover a lot of ground. They range from Hebrew names to Old Testament appellations to modern names currently found in Israel to colloquial Yiddish names, which we focus on today.

Yiddish names have a rich history; the language evolved during medieval times from High German, influenced by Hebrew and some eastern European languages. Many are versions of Old Testament names and have numerous variations.

Here are some warm, friendly, gemutlich Yiddish (which literally means Jewish) names worth considering.

Girls

BAILA—This Yiddish form of Bilhah, one of the four women who gave birth to the tribes of Israel, means white—and so another possibility for a winter baby.

BASYA—Basya means daughter of God, and girls with this name are commonly called by the nickname Basha.

BLUMA—Not surprisingly, this name means flower, equivalent to the English Blossom and Flora, the French Fleur, etc.

BRINA—This is a color name, meaning brown.

CHARNA—Another color name, Charna comes from the Slavic word meaning black, dark.

CHAVAChava means life and is the Yiddish interpretation of the biblical Eve.

DAVRUSHA—This is the lively Yiddish form of Deborah, the Biblical prophetess and judge.

FRAYDA—This Jewish cousin of Freida, Frida and Freya means joy, rejoining.

GOLDA, GOLDIE—A name with an obvious meaning, associated with Golda Meir, the fourth Prime Minister of Israel. Nickname Goldie was modernized by Goldie Hawn and now actually seems to be making something of a comeback, chosen by actress Ione Skye and by shoeman Steve Madden for their daughters, and used for a major character in The New Normal. Goldie was a regular presence on the US popularity lists from the 1880s to the 1940s, topping at #114.

KAILA, KYLA—This internationally appealing choice probably comes from the Hebrew Kelila, which means crown or laurel, symbolizing victory. Cousin name Kayla has had a long run, currently ranking at #115.

LEIBA, LEEBA—has the endearing meaning of beloved,  the double-e version having a more modern feel.

LEYA, LAILA—These are multi-cultural names, with roots in Spanish, Arabic and Hindi. The Yiddish version comes from the Hebrew meaning night, dark beauty. Laila is #169 in popularity right now, is associated with boxer Laila Ali, and was used for her daughter by Sandra Bullock.

RAISA, RAIZEL-two versions of the Yiddish name meaning rose; Raisa is also heard in Russia.

RAYNA REINA—These names mean pure and clean and are sometimes used as Yiddish forms of Katherine

RIFKA, RIVKA, RIVA—three Yiddish forms of Rebecca, who was the wife of Isaac in the Bible. Riva is a modernization.

SHAINA, SHAYNAA well used name with the complimentary meaning of beautiful.

SURI, SORALIE—Two Yiddish versions of Sarah, though as we learned when little Ms. Cruise was named, Suri has multi-cultural roots.

ZISSA, ZUSA—These names sound as sugary sweet as their meaning.

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3 Responses to “Happy Hanukkah Names for Girls”

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mother_dragons Says:

December 22nd, 2016 at 11:51 am

For the record, Reina means “queen” and Baila means “dances” in Spanish

mill1020 Says:

December 24th, 2016 at 8:22 pm

I think Goldie could become more popular soon.

Megan_Janaya Says:

December 29th, 2016 at 10:55 am

Leya and Laila are really lovely.

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