Help Readers Choose an Israeli Baby Name (June 2010)

baby-motherForum for Israeli Baby Name Help

I’ve posted several threads with requests for feedback on Hebrew names. Below are two more requests:

Naima writes:

Back again, still playing with names. We’re Conservative Jews near DC looking for Israeli Hebrew names for our soon to be daughter.

We’ve pretty much decided on Michal for our future daughter’s first name (named for my husband’s late father, Michael) , we’re also considering Meital and Miri as names without a “ch” but I really love Michal.

For the middle name — my grandfather was Bobby (given name, not just short for Robert) , and I just haven’t really come to like any names that begin with B so.. expanding my list. His middle name was Kahn (his mother’s maiden name), so one option is Kalanit. Husband likes it more than I do. Any other K names you can think of?

We’re also considering Naama. It would honor my grandfather since he was such a pleasant, wonderful, gracious person, even though it’s a more creative link instead of using the first letter.

Any thoughts?
Michal Naama F__________
Michal Kalanit F__________

Thanks so much for your thoughts — truly appreciate the feedback!

A couple of readers have already responded to Naima’s request here: More Popular Israeli Baby Names. Now for another one?

Sarah writes:

I also could use some name suggestions. We are expecting our second child (don’t now the sex yet) and are having such a hard time coming up with a boy’s name. Our first son is Ilan, which we love. We tend to prefer Hebrew names, but since we are in America, we don’t want something too strange or difficult to pronounce. I think we are going to use Dalia for a girl, but are stuck on the boy name. Some things we have thought about are Reuven (knowing that it would be pronounced Ruven by non-Jewish Americans), Ori or Oscar (don’t think this is even Hebrew though). I’ve looked at all the Hebrew name lists that come up on Google searches, but it is difficult to know which ones are extremely old-fashioned, etc. Does anyone use the names Lev or Rom? Other thoughts?

Best wishes to both of you. I hope you will return after the babies are born so we can wish you mazal tov!


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  1. Sarah, we have 5 boys: Raanan, Zev, Eitan, Noam and Yechiel. Zev or Ze’ev, is also a name that is fairly popular in both places. Yechiel, the last one, is tough for a kid living in the US. But Noam is popular, can be secular or religious, is contemporary and not old fashioned. It happens that our son is named after Noam Apter, z”l, an incredible hero. He isn’t the only one, either, there are a few Noams around the world named in his memory. ( for the story)

    Our son is “Noam Lev” which means gentle or pleasing heart. It suits him, thank G-d.

    Good luck with whatever you choose!

  2. LOL, I know how my 4 yr old son would vote…he LOVES kalaniot. They are a pretty red wildflower that grows all over Israel during the winter. We took a lot of hikes to find them 🙂

    I really like the name Michal. If my husband had said no to my preference for my daughter’s name (also with an M), I would have proposed that.

  3. Thanks ima2seven for the response. I have an israeli brother and sister-in-law and among those two families the children are Noa, Eitan, Yonatan, Matan, and Liat, so I have to rule out those names. I like Noam but not sure if too close to Noa — although Noam Lev is a wonderful name. Zev is a nice name — I will definitely add that to our list.

  4. For a K name, you can try Kinneret. I get compliments on my daughter’s anme all the time. It’s a little amusing, because her name is like this “wow” name, and Ephraim is like…old-fashioned and religious so when I introduce them, people are always like “wow, what a beautiful name” for her, and like “oh, he’s so cute” for him… Oh well, at least I *love* his name.

  5. For Sarah, if you have an Ilan (tree), keep going with the nature names. That’s my inclination.

    How about:
    – Keshet (rainbow, f)
    – Aviv (sprng, m/f- also Aviva, Avivit, Aviya)
    – Oren (pine, m)
    – Tal, Tali, Talia (dew, m/f)
    – Ayelet (ibex, f)
    – Dov (bear, m)
    – Ma’ayan (spring, f)
    – Eden (as in, Garden of, f)
    – Or, Ori, Orit, Lior, Liora, Orli (all variations of light, my light, m/f)
    – Shaked (almond, m/f)
    – Rimona (pomegranate, f- nickname: Rima)
    – Shoshana, Vered, Varda, Kalanit, Nurit, Lilach (all flowers, f)
    – Gal, Galia (wave, m/f)
    – Ra’anan and Shachar (fresh; dawn)– too hard for English
    – Kineret and Yarden/a (locations in Israel, f)

    (Oscar is definitely not a classic Israeli name. Noam is very popular.)

    Lots more. Feel free to correct me if any of these are off.

    B’sha’ah tovah to you both.

    ~ Maya

  6. RaggedyMom says

    Naima, I know some boys named “Mishael”, so how about Mishaela? (popularized in song, too ). Less likely to be confused for the boys’ name.

    Sarah – for some reason Gavriel pops into my head.

    B’shaah tovah to you both!

  7. Mishael/Mishaela are not really Israeli names. They are more Russian.
    Sarah: Oscar is… well, there are Jews named Oscar after Oscar Schindler, but the biggest association for most Americans is Oscar the Grouch.

    Gavriel/Gabriel is good because it works well in Hebrew or in English, then again, I’m partial to Gabriel b/c my middle name is Gabrielle, but the meaning is great – G-d is my strength.

    Kalanit is not a common name in Israel, and for some reason rings as “strange.” The only Keshet I’ve ever met is a labrador retriever…

  8. Dear Naima:
    The first thing I would do is to find out what your grandfather’s (Bobby) Hebrew name was. Since the Hebrew/Yiddish name is indeed a reflection of the essence of the soul, Bobby is irrelevant. Then based on that you can make a feminine version. I also don’t think it’s good to name a girl after 2 men. There are differences between a female and male soul and it might impose a too masculine aspect to her. Hopefully you’ll have a son in the future that you can bestow that name on.


    Myriam S.

  9. My best friend’s daughter (age 3) is called Keshet.

    Aviya does noe mean spring and has no relation at all to Aviva and Avivit – it means G-d is my father and is biblical.

    I like Mishaela for a girl, but it’s not with K…

    Anyway, we didn’t know the sex of either of ouuf two children before birth. the first one was a girl and we had only boys’ names… the second was a boy and we took the name we had picked before (we didn’t tell anyone what my daughter’s name would have been, had she been a boy – for three years!)

  10. Maya–
    thank you for the nice list — I like the idea of sticking with the nature theme. Oren and Ori are definitely names we are considering for a boy.

    Could someone comment on the usual pronunciation used for Zev — I’ve heard it different ways — and I am sure some are “americanized” or incorrect versions. Thanks again for all the responses. Very helpful.

  11. Regular Anonymous says

    I think Michal Naama sounds lovely. They are both popular names in Israel. Meital is not used much these days and I don’t care for it but Miri is nice.

    Keshet, in addition to meaning rainbow also means headband which in my overly sensitive mind will lead to teasing.

    Never heard of anyone named Rimona.

    Boys names: I love the name Yair. Rafael is a beautiful name and very multi-cultural.

  12. I know of several Mikailas.

    My 3 year old is Netanel (Nathaniel) Simcha whcih means “God gives joy”.

  13. Sarah: Zev can be pronounced the way the ‘e’ is in ‘bet’. That’s really an Ameracinised (?) version
    The ‘real’ way is ‘Ze’ev’ with the ‘Ze’ with a schwa under it and the ‘ev’ as in bake.

    Hope that helps!

  14. Sarah, I’ve heard both one and two syllable pronounciations of Zev (Ze’ev) among charedi Americans. Always a short e, even when there are two of them.

    On the nature theme, a friend just named her baby Alon. (I think it means “oak tree” and is pronounced like the English word “alone,” which is a bit strange on an American baby…)

    And I know at least two Meitals, (both under bas mitzvah, one a baby) although the older one goes by Tali.

    My oldest daughter’s first name is Chana — I wasn’t going for popular, I was just naming her for my great-grandmother, but there are 3 Chanas in her class (out of 4 girls total!) And it gets mispronounced all the time outside of school, but she doesn’t seem very annoyed by that. It just means in places like doctor’s offices I have to listen hard for any variation that might be us — chain-a, shaina, kana… once people actually hear it, they usually just say Hana.

    I have one more CH child — Nechama, but she prefers to answer to her middle name (Liba), so that works well.

    The name most people have trouble with is actually my baby’s first name: Avigdor. Even the (non-religious) relatives are having trouble remembering how to spell it, because it’s just not a popular name. Surprisingly, though, my brother-in-law and sister-in-law have two baby nephews with that name! We didn’t even know the other baby’s name when we picked it for ours. (The boys aren’t actually cousins.)

  15. I just wanted to add that I really like the list of names here:

    I like the fact that the site gives the origin of names, and for the most part these sound like modern Israeli names. I also love the ability to look at categories of names.

    A personal suggestion: “Erez” is another nature name that goes well with Ilan. We might use it if it weren’t for the fact that my husband’s cousin is named Erez!

  16. P.S. “Erez” means “cedar.”

  17. Thanks Maya, for that helpful link and name suggestions.

  18. you can find a numerous of baby names in the below list… check it..

    List of Baby Names

  19. @ ima2seven interested in name Yechiel but how do you pronounce it in English and in Hebrew

  20. Adina Rinat says

    Does anyone know about the name Orli and if it is popular in Israel? Also I would love some names popular among religious Zionist in Israel today. Todah!

  21. Adina Rinat says

    Also I would like to know if Ofir is popular for girls in Israel?

  22. HI Adina,
    My teen daughter attends a very large religious zionist school and says Orli is a nice name but no longer popular. She doesn’t know of girls named Ofir.
    Names from my first- and third-grader’s classes: girls: Keshet, Adi, Roni, Shir, Hadar, Shavit, Shai, Chen. Boys: Dvir, Yonatan, Daniel, Yaniv, Boaz, Shiloh, Dorel, Yair, Itamar, Itai, Uriel. Look through the comments on all of the name posts for more ideas, and come back to ask about specific names. Good luck!

  23. Adina Rinat says

    Do you have some popular names that start with A? I saw someone posted the name Liat is this a popular name? We very much want to use the middle name Fruma after a dear friend. I know it’s probably old fashion but we still wanna try to make it work with a modern Israeli name as the first name. Not easy:) Thanks for your help:)

  24. Adina, Liat is still popular. Adi, Alma, Avia, Ateret, Avital, Avigayil, Aviva (a little old-fashioned), Aviv. Via my daughter.

  25. Another idea: Adva.

  26. I like Ayelet and Ayala.
    I know a small Ayala (5) and a baby Ayelet-Chen.

  27. These are all very pretty:) Thank You!

  28. Is the name Libby ever used in Israel?

  29. Yes, Adina, meaning my heart.

  30. What about the name Sima?

  31. Sima isn’t just old-fashioned… it tends to be quite common among Sfaradim and less-so among Ashkenazim.

    In Israel, people see your name and assume a lot about you. It’s a bit of a burden to give someone a name that doesn’t go with their ethnicity. Imagine naming a white American girl Keisha or Tamika…

    • Thanks so much LeahGG for that tip. I guess my kids name would need to fit with like religious Zionists who are Ashkenazim.

  32. Hi. I’m back again with another question. We found our we are having a boy so focusing on male names. I really like Maya’s suggestion of keeping a nature theme with our second son (first is Ilan). We had been leaning toward Tomer, but looking at the Hebrew spelling, I am not sure exactly how to transliterate it to English. I see it spelled Tomer in most places — which I would tend to say “To-mair” with stress on the second syllable but the hebrew spelling makes me think it would be To-mar and not sure which syllable to stress. Help please — want to get it right. Thanks!

    • Hi Sarah:
      TOE-mer is the correct pronunciation. Accent on the first syllable. The e in Tomer is pronounced like a schwa, even though there is a segol vocalization underneath (usually pronounced eh).

  33. I am due in 10 days, it is a boy and I cannot come up with a name. I love the name Ozi. Any thoughts on that name? I appreciate all suggestions. Thank you!

    • Oz is used,but I’m not sure how much, and Uziel (more in religious circles). Haven’t heard of Ozi.

      • Oz (or Az) is usually short for Azriel. It’s a very nice name. I know a guy named Az, his full name is Azriel, and his English name is Eric.

        I also know a Cuban guy named Oz or Ozzy, and it is short for Osvaldo.

        • As Mark said, Ozi (Ozzie) is usually a nickname for Azriel (or even Azaryah).

          Not sure how popular the name Oz (pronounced oh-z) is, like from Eshet Chayil, which means strong or fierce.

  34. If you love a name, keep it! Who said you have to do what everyone else do. Be Unique! and Ozi is a nice name 🙂

  35. Ozi isn’t common in secular Israeli circles. You do see the rare Oz, occasionally nicknamed Ozi, but the only ones that come to mind are in their 30s or so now.

    Uzi is considered an “old” name these days, much more common for father than child.

    Ori on the other hand is quite popular these days and certainly very appropriate for a Hannukah-time baby. So is Or, but that is obviously a bit problematic for an English speaker.

    Omri and Ofek are also popular “O” boys names. Omer seems to be becoming unisex these days.

    Most important of course is what you like – it’s your son, follow your heart, and best of luck with the birth and the decision :).

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  36. name maven says

    K – for a girl – Keren – means ray (as in – ray of light).

    M – for a girl – Maya.

    Kinneret – old. And with the Kinneret shrinking and looking more and more like a muddy puddle than the once glorious lake it used to be, I don’t like the connotation.

    boy names – Yoav, Yuval, Noam, Idan.

    • Don’t know what you’re responding to, but Keren and Maya are common among the 30+ crowd. Not as much with new kids these days, and Kinneret is totally back in. I’ve heard of at least 3 other Kinnerets since I named my daughter. And EVERYONE says “wow, what a name” when they hear her name.

      (I feel bad for Ephraim who just kind of gets this “oh, don’t worry, you’ll have an ok life despite your name” sympathy glance when I tell people his name).

  37. Actually, Maya is insanely popular right now among secular Israelis. My daughter Maya, who is 7, can’t go anywhere without meeting at least one other Maya. (It gets very confusing at kids’ activities, where she’s constantly trying to work out if she’s been called LOL.)

  38. has anyone heard of the name Talor or Talori? And would it be too difficult to pronounce in English?

  39. What is the Hebrew equivalent of the Yiddish name Fruma?

  40. Rinat – I think it would be Tal-Or and hyphenated in Hebrew too. I’ve never heard it but I’ve heard Tal-El.

  41. i’ll never forget the name or-tal because it was a night manager named or-tal that upgraded us to the presidential suite in eilat.

    my wife loves tal names (meital, lital, ortal, talyah, etc.). i like the way the sound a lot too (also tal for a boy), but i can’t connect with the meaning.

  42. Still here — 3 days post due date! We had decided to name our soon to arrive son Tomer, but having last minute second thoughts. My husband keeps forgetting how to pronounce it — so is worried that it will be difficult in America. Is Tobin or Tovin considered hebrew at all? I see some references where it is and others where the origin is more British. Thoughts? We still like Tomer too — just the last minute panic!

    • Tovin is Hebrew for good (plural adjective). I’ve never heard of it as a name, and the “in” is generally an Aramaic ending as opposed to Tovim, which is a common last name.

  43. We’re due in the Spring and are playing with a few names. We both like Eden, but prefer the Israeli pronunciation (with the “E” pronounced as in Eli vs. Enid). I think spelling it Edden might help guide English speakers so that she doesn’t have to correct her name forever. . .thoughts? Also, I love the name Sivan, but our baby is due much earlier . . is it weird to use a name of a month that doesn’t apply to the baby’s birth month? Does anyone know any other meanings for Sivan besides the name of a month? I also like Niva (my husband does not) . . says it reminds him of Teva and Diva . . is Niva uncommon in Israel as well?
    Any feedback Much appreciated!!

    • Hi Lital. Never heard of Niva. People mispronounce my kids’ names all the time, and they don’t care. One doesn’t even bother to correct people who call her by a similar name. Most people named Sivan were not born in that month so don’t let that hold you back if you like it! Beshaah tovah.

      • Just an update . . We went with Eden Rachel in the end. Most people are intially thrown for a loop, but can pronounce it pretty well after being corrected once (The tendency here is to say Ed +in . . close enough). My husband’s aunts/uncles give us the hardest time , though. They remind me EVERY time I see them that she will always have to correct how people say her name for the rest of her life. Also, our parent’s generation like to point out that the proper way to pronounce (Gan) Eden is (Gan) Ayden, which is not how I heard Israelis do it . . and sounds a bit shtetl for my taste. Anyway, despite all this , we absolutely LOVE the name, and it really suits our gorgeous, happy little bubble.

  44. On Eden/Edden,
    My name is Leah which gets pronounced Lee-ah and Lay-ah. I’ve learned to live with it. It doesn’t bother me if people “mispronounce” my name (which is actually Lee-ah in English) I prefer Lee-ah, but it’s just a vowel… so what?
    Eden is easier to spell, imo. I’d leave it that way. Better to be mispronounced than to be misspelled.
    (though you’d be surprised how many people misspell GOODMAN)

    just my 2 cents.

    I’ve not heard Niva – heard Ziva, but niv is a name that they use for a boy. I don’t like it much, but that’s just me.

  45. We’re looking for a name that would work in English speaking countries and Israel too.
    Possibly Adina or Odelia to name after someone with the English name Audrey.
    The alternative would be to use a variation of her Hebrew name which was Chasia Shaina, but Chasia is difficult for English speakers and Shayna is so common amongst our family and friends.

    Does anyone have any suggestions ?

  46. I wonder if you could tell me if the name Ana’el/Anaëlle is used in Israel?

    I live in France and it seems to be becoming fairly popular in Orthodox circles here.

    I like the Hebrew meaning of the name, but would it work in Israel, or come across as completely obscure?

    Also, is Netanya/Natanya in common use as a name in Israel?

  47. Adina Rinat says

    Update:) We chose Avigayil Fruma:) It fits her very well. She is full of joy:) She was also born in Adar Bet so it fits in that way too as that is considered a very joyous month:) Thanks for all your help!