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.
BASYA—Basya means daughter of God, and girls with this name are commonly called by the nickname Basha.
BRINA—This is a color name, meaning brown.
DAVRUSHA—This is the lively Yiddish form of Deborah, the Biblical prophetess and judge.
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.
ZISSA, ZUSA—These names sound as sugary sweet as their meaning.