Israeli Baby Names: Noa, Noam and Tamar

December 1, 2015 emilygc3

By Emily Cardoza, Nothing Like a Name

Names with Hebrew origins are very popular in the US – Ethan, Noah, Abigail, Sarah – so why not check out some more modern Hebrew choices? Because Israel splits up its statistics by religion, this post will be about Jewish names – perhaps Muslim and Christian posts will follow.  Here are some of the most usable.


An excellent alternative to NoahNoam is somewhat more substantial and has a great meaning – “pleasantness, charm.” Quite a few famous Noams have popped up in history, and it’s particularly associated with the distinguished linguist Noam Chomsky.

Ori is the perfect male complement to the more feminine Ari. It means “my light,” a lovely meaning for any little one. If it seems a bit short, you might try it as a nickname for Orion or Orlando.

Also spelled Ithai, this Old Testament name of one of King David’s great warriors means “God is with me” or “friendly.” It could be a unique alternative to EthanIsaac or Ty.

Yosef – Joseph

Currently ranked at #709 in the US, this name is an accessible but uncommon way to honor a grandpa Joe. Nicknames Seff or Sefi are also cute. Other Hebrew Y names include Yaacov (Jacob), Yehudah (Judah), and Yoel (Joel).

Originally a male name meaning “lion of God,” this name was claimed for American girls in 1989 with the release of The Little Mermaid. Perhaps Ariel could return to the boys side in another few years–it currently ranks at Number 738 for boys in the US.  In the HBO series Entourage, Ari Gold‘s full name was Ariel.

Yonatan – Jonathan
I personally prefer the English variation, but Yonatan could work if you’re looking for something more unique in the US – bonus points for adorable nickname Yoni!

Eitan – Ethan
Pronounced AY-tahn, this is a cool mix between popular Ethan and unusual Eden. The fact that few English boys names begin with “Ei” adds to the rarity.

Moshe – Moses
One of several names associated with the Biblical prophet, Moses has been on the US Top 1000 since 1880. The Hebrew variation softens the name a bit, but the original definitely feels more usable.


While this name has a history and meaning all its own – “movement” – it might be too close to boys’ #1 Noah to find footing in the US. Noa has been a Number 1 name in Israel for girls, and is also 12th in Spain and 20th in the Netherlands.


Meaning “my song,” this could be a lovely namesake for a Grandma Shirley. It has only appeared on the US Top 1000 once, in 1985. There was a Shira character on TV’s Gilmore Girls.

Tamar – Tamara
Dropping the A at the end of popular Tamara invites a much cooler interpretation. Next to other ends-in-R names like Skylar or HarperTamar will fit right in. In the Old Testament, there were several Tamars, including a daughter of King David.

On its own, this name is pretty and strong without being overused. As a nickname of Natalia, it’s also a unique option. Talia would also work as a cross-cultural option.

An intriguing name with no parallels in the US, Yael is the name of a female warrior in the Old Testament – tenacious and exotic, this is a great choice! It is also a place name in Israel.

Edel – Adele
From the Hebrew for “ornament,” this Yiddish name will fit in with the other trendy E-names without sacrificing any personality. Note – other languages also claim Edel, but with different meanings.

Avigail – Abigail
Meaning “my father is joy,” this could be a distinctive alternative to Abigail – but you’ll be asked to spell it almost every time it’s said. Aviva, meaning “spring,” has long been a popular name in Israel.


This name is a feminine and friendly alternative to Aaliyah or Aria. It means “deer” in Hebrew – other variations include Aya and Ayelet, associated here with writer Ayelet Waldman.


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