Name Sage: A Brother for Noa and Talia
Our baby boy is due in two weeks and we are running out of time!
We have two daughters – Noa who is 10 and Talia who is 7. We live in Toronto, Canada. I’m Israeli and my husband is of Indian origin. We are raising our kids Jewish and are looking for a modern secular Israeli/international name that is pronounceable by people here.
As our daughters are older, they want to be involved in the name choosing, which I love in concept, but it makes it much, much harder to come up with names we all love that meet our criteria. My husband and I love Elliot (even though it isn’t an Israeli name, we could nickname him Eli), but the girls HATE it. We like Yonatan and Eitan best as Israeli names but are unsure about pronunciation/fit here – what do you think? Uri is a favorite of mine but totally unpronounceable here. We all love Ben but not sure if its substantial enough by itself. Benjamin is nice but a little too traditional and not so Israeli. We also like Daniel and Ariel but again these seem traditional. Ely is taken by a good friend. And finally, Micha (but I pronounce it the Israeli way and I don’t love the North American pronunciation).
We would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions. Thanks!
The Name Sage replies:
Would that be your son’s name?
The question is whether you ought to overlook your daughters’ feelings about the name. While I think you’re free to do so, but it’s better to consider other names first. After all, a joyful response from your daughters would probably make you and your husband feel much more confident about the name that you choose.
Eitan – I’ll confess that I’m not certain how to pronounce this name. Does the first syllable sound like eye? Or is it more like the long ‘a’ of main? The good news is that either way, it seems very approachable in English – even if you’ll have to repeat it a few times in the beginning.
Ben – You’ve mentioned that you all love the name Ben, but worry that Ben is too simple, and Benjamin too predictable, and not quite Israeli. I wonder if you would consider Bennett instead? It’s similar to your Elliot/Eli compromise. Noa, Talia, and Bennett; Noa, Talia, and Ben. I like it either way.
Here are a few others that might work:
Ari – Uri always makes me think of Ari. It fits in with Leo and all of those animal-inspired baby names. Entourage’s Ari Gold might not be the most admirable character, but he’s made the name much more familiar. Plus, Ari has separate roots in other European languages. (In Old Norse, it means eagle.) So this might be among the most international of names you could consider. Noa, Talia, and Ari. Two more that are similar are Avi and Omri, but I think Ari is the most mainstream. Ari also reminds me of Ariel, from your original list.
Ezra – Ezra strikes me as a great brother name for Noa and Talia. I’m less sure if it feels authentically Israeli. But it also reminds me of the a-ending Micha. It might be a little more mainstream North America than you’d like, but I do think it would wear well.
Lev, Levi, or Levi called Lev – Lev is the more international and unexpected of the two names, and I think that it sounds exactly right with your daughters’ names: Noa, Talia, and Lev. But since Ben’s simplicity gives you pause, I wonder if Levi called Lev is a better compromise?
I could go on – there are plenty of Israeli names that work well in English, and even more ways to pair a conventionally Israeli name with a more familar North American choice. (Elior or Leor called Leo? Orion called Ori?)
But the longer I look at your list, the more I think the likely finalists are already there. Elliot/Eli is a great name for your son, if only your daughters can be persuaded. And if they can’t, Ben – possibly with a longer formal name like Bennett – seems like a very logical second choice.
Readers, what would you suggest for Noa and Talia’s brother? Creative ideas for Israeli names that are easily pronounced in English are especially welcome. And I’d love to hear how you involved older siblings in naming their siblings, too!
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on December 16th, 2015 at 12:20 am
Ari and Ezra both came to mind when I started reading the post. I love Noa, Talia, and Ari all together. I also really like Noa, Talia, and Ezra all together.
on December 16th, 2015 at 12:30 am
What about something similar to Natalie Portman’s son, Aleph?
on December 16th, 2015 at 12:42 am
I’m Jewish-American but my cousins are Israeli (living in U.S.). They have two sons – Ari and Ezra. Both names are lovely. I also know an Ari who is very, very handsome, and it works great on him. There’s also Ori, but I prefer Ari.
Another Israeli cousin of mine is Ilan. Pronounced “E” + lon. I think it sounds awesome and love it, but if you don’t want him to have to pronounce it for people that’s out.
Another cousin Yosef. If you like the sound of Yonatan, this might appeal to you. Yosef travels beautifully anywhere in the world.
The final boy cousin is Raphael, which is very dashing. He’s called Rafa often.
I personally love the name Eitan and know one. People around me know how to pronounce it but not sure about Toronto. What about just Ethan? Not Israeli but popular in the Jewish community.
I personally think Eli stands on its own and prefer it that way. Do the girls hate Eli or just Elliot? You could do Eli on its own if Elliot is the culprit. Or show them E.T.? haha
Not Israeli, but these names feel culturally Jewish: Abel and Seth. Both nice!
My final suggestion is Jonah! Love this name. Good luck!
on December 16th, 2015 at 12:59 am
I like Bennett
What about Elijah, Eli?.. or just Eli
Asher (popular in the united states but it’s a hebrew name and very handsome!)
on December 16th, 2015 at 1:24 am
Bennett doesn’t really seem to fit to me. What about Benoni? It seems to fit a bit more. It was Rachel’s son Benjamin’s name before Jacob changed it. I feel that it has substance, sounds great with your girls’ names and gives a nice long form to Ben. There is also Ben-tzion which has a lovely meaning and appears in the Talmud.
Other names I like that fit your criteria-
Avraham – gives a long form to Avi and is a very handsome name
Zvi – similar to the names you were pondering, very unique. I went to school with a boy with this name and it fit him very well.
Zev – related to the tribe of Benjamin, short form like Ben
on December 16th, 2015 at 6:38 am
Elliot is great! Maybe you could compromise and let your daughters pick the middle. Also, have they seen ET? Maybe that could sway their opinion.
Liev is a Hebrew name in my radar lately.
How about Elias, Elijah, or Eleazer?
on December 16th, 2015 at 7:58 am
Though I’m not familiar with many Israeli names, a couple Hebrew names that stand out to me would be Elian which incorporates ‘Eli’ and could be shortened to Eli. Another Hebrew name would be Makai, easy to pronounce.
on December 16th, 2015 at 9:20 am
Ok, American Jew with Israeli experience here. In your position, with girls’ names that are easy for non-Hebrew speakers to manage but still distinctly Hebrew, maybe
Guy (ie: valley in Hebrew)
I know boys named Aiden who are עדן or אידן in Hebrew.
on December 16th, 2015 at 10:19 am
I actually know a pair of siblings named Yonatan and Noa, (and another sister Tamar). With Noa and Talia, my favorites would be Ari, Ori and Elliot/ Eli. All seem easy to pronounce in English but sound great with Noa and Talia. Best of luck!
on December 16th, 2015 at 10:29 am
This is not only a very interesting article, but the comments are fascinating as well. I have not been raised in this culture, but it is really very insightful to read these names and suggestions from people who have been…and the names are very nice, also! Good luck naming your son.
on December 16th, 2015 at 11:55 am
To pair with your daughters I like Zev, Ari, and Elior. I’m actually nota big fan of Eli, but Elior could be a nice compromise for Elliot. Good luck!
on December 16th, 2015 at 12:06 pm
Congrats to you!
I like Ari, Ezra, Levi, Asher and just Eli for Noa and Talia’s brother.
Personally, couples sometimes find it difficult enough to agree on a name for a child. When you have to take into consideration other family members, naming a child becomes even more complicated. If Elliot is the name they want to use, they should do so. Perhaps as a compromise, the girls can get to choose a middle name if one isn’t already picked. Good luck to my fellow Canuck!
on December 16th, 2015 at 12:42 pm
Eben (If you like Ben, then what about this nn for Ebenezer)
Eliezer (More distinctive than Elliott, but still gets you to Eli and sounds cooler than Ezra)
on December 16th, 2015 at 12:51 pm
Firstly, I love your girls’ names! Also I love Eitan. Very handsome.
I have a couple suggestions for you and a story of my own experience.
My younger sister was born when I was around your girls age and in order to help me feel included they let me choose the middle name (from a list of course). It’s always been a special connection between us. Perhaps this could work for you too.
Anyway. My suggestions.
Israel – there’s a well known man where I’m from with this name (he went by Izzy) and I’ve always adored it. Why not honor your heritage in a more obvious way?
Bitsy Poet Said
on December 16th, 2015 at 12:55 pm
May I suggest Avriel? It’s a lovely name, has Israeli roots, and offers multiple nn options.
on December 16th, 2015 at 2:27 pm
I love Ezra, and as an Old Testament name, it seems like it would fit in well with your roots. I also love Eitan for your family. I see this as an up-and-coming name; I work at a kids’ sports facility in the San Francisco Bay Area, and we have had several Eitans enrolled here.
on December 16th, 2015 at 3:38 pm
Have you considered Eliron? You could still use the Eli nickname…
on December 16th, 2015 at 5:23 pm
I love Eitan from your original list. To me it has the same international and also Jewish feel of Noa and Talia.
I also love the suggestion Avi and Micha said either Meesha or MI ka.
But I don’t think it is very likely for your children to have the same consideration for a name that you as the parents have. I was 18 when my parents had my last sister, and all of us sibs had a million opinions. They finally settled on a name but didn’t want to share it quite yet while they were trying it out. One of my sisters said, “As long as it isn’t Lydia!” which of course it was. We’ve all survived and Lydia wears her name well. 🙂
on December 16th, 2015 at 7:43 pm
My cousin in Israel has a soon named Natanel (like Nathaniel or Nathan). We have a Yonatan at our school and I like it a lot. However, I’m not sure what his actual name is because I’ve seen it written as Jonathan, too.
I like the suggestions of Ari, Raphael (nn Rafa or Rafi), and Aleph.
on December 16th, 2015 at 7:43 pm
on December 16th, 2015 at 8:43 pm
I love Raphael, Asa, Aleph and Nate
on December 16th, 2015 at 9:03 pm
I had the same issue with my two older children when my youngest was born, and indeed it makes things much more complicated. Kids are super sensitive to playground implications and tend not to like names that are too “weird” or potentially nerdy — all our top picks like Ned, Harry, and Felix were roundly nixed and we ended up with the much-more-popular Owen (who, by the way, is very glad his siblings saved him from a life of Being Ned).
Lots of great ideas here. I adore Raphael. And what about Gabriel?
Also, I have an inspired long name for Ben: Benno! It’s a saint’s name and German but the only parents I know who have a Benno are Jewish.
Ruben can be shortened to Ben too.
Or what about Eleazar? Which has such a melodic sound and can be shortened to Eli. You don’t say much about what names your daughters DO like. Maybe they need to be invited onto Nameberry to search around! Sounds like a way to spend those long Canadian winter evenings…
on December 17th, 2015 at 12:10 am
I also like the very popular Itai -so sweet and has an intuitive pronunciation.
Also love Gil for you. Nickname for Gilead if it feels incomplete.
on January 29th, 2016 at 11:31 pm
Thanks everyone! We are still finalizing the name (one month later…oy!). We panicked about this but were told we have 1 year to decide(!), though I would like a name in the next few days…
I am so so torn between Ben Elliot and Eitan Ben. I want to honour my Israeli heritage hence Eitan (Ey (long A) – TAHN, meaning strong, enduring) – but do worry about pronunciation. My name was always impossible to pronounce growing up and I hated it, but I guess its hard to have a unique name (which I want) and not have it mispronounced.
I don’t really connect with the longer Ben-names but do love Ben, which is more modern Israeli and very sweet. I also like that Ben(jamin) was Rachel’s youngest son by far and favourite son. As I think this is it for us, he is my most favourite (and only) son :). And the girls picked it which is special. I do worry a lot about it’s simplicity and common-ness though. Both me and my husband (and daughters too) are a bit out-of-the-box kind of people and I worry about the fit. Do you feel Ben is too common?
I am starting to consider Lev…
Ari and Itai do fit well but we already have both in our extended family.
P.S. Loved the Lydia story. Thanks for sharing! My girls are a lot more open these days. I think they just want him to have a name already! 🙂
Any advice is always appreciated 😉
on January 30th, 2016 at 12:23 am
PS We’ve also fallen in love with the name Leo/Lio, though its sadly not Israeli…I do like Elior or Lior but my husband doesn’t like the r.
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