Name Sage: A Brother for Noa and Talia

Name Sage: A Brother for Noa and Talia

Inbal writes:

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:

Let’s start with a question for you. Imagine your daughters had heard the suggestion of Elliot called Eli, and responded with an enthusiastic “We love it!”

Would that be your son’s name?

I think it would. Because when I listen to your criteria, Elliot/Eli leaps out as fitting better than the rest. It feels true to your Israeli heritage, but is easily spelled and pronounced.

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.

So let’s look at the names from your shortlist that seem like the best alternatives to Elliot/Eli, and I have a few more for you to consider.

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:

AriUri 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 LevLev 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!