Israeli Baby Boy Name Help, December 2014

baby boy in bassinetteHere is a question from Yaniv.

Hi Hannah – been going through your blog for some name ideas and figured I’d reach out directly.

My wife and I are having our first this April and are looking for boy names. We are struggling somewhat as we are looking for a name that is easily pronounced in both English and Hebrew. 
We started with wanting to have the name start with the letter S, but that proved difficult. We have now expanded our search without much luck. Would love to get your thoughts and any new ideas on some more modern Israeli names that you feel work in both English and Hebrew. Some of the names we have liked are:
  • Liev – there is some concern here that people will mispronounce the name. HK: I think by Liev you mean Liav, “a father to me.” It is used here in Israel. I agree that it’s hard to pronounce.
  • Asher – concerned that its an older persons name, although we like Ash for short. HK: Asher is still commonly used in religious circles, but not so much in secular ones.
  • Liam – strikes me as an Irish name, although I’ve read some blogs that translate it as Li-am (my country). HK: Liam definitely would not be popular here, were it not popular in the US and Great Britain. The fact that it has meaning in Hebrew is secondary.
  • Cole (I’ve seen this spelt as Kol on your blog) – I find that this sounds funny in Hebrew, especially given the meaning. HK: Cole is not a Hebrew name used in Israel. 
  • Cain or Caleb – we love these in English, and despite being biblical names, the Hebrew biblical pronunciations of Kaeen and Kalev dont resonate. Cain or Kayin is very rare here, because of the biblical association. Kalev is used in religious circles. Keep in mind that without vowels, Kalev can be read as kelev (dog). 
Readers, can you make some suggestions for Hebrew names that are easy for Americans to pronounce?
Thanks to an anonymous reader for the picture. I’m always looking for cute baby pictures. If you have one, please send to mominisrael AT 
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  1. One comment on Liam. I know a few Israeli Liams. One is a religious girl (not Anglo parents), which ended up wrong-footing me when she entered my daughter’s American school class. The others are all boys, and yes, the English popularity of the name was a huge factor.

  2. Not all of these are so serious, but at least in alphabetical order.
    Kniel (Niel)
    Daron (Darren)

    • I am married to an Ofir/Ophir it’s hard for Anglos and sounds like Oh-fear In English not a good connotation …just fyi

  3. I named my daughter Liam almost 26 years ago. Had nothing to do with popularity of name in USA

  4. Asher is pronounced differently in English and Hebrew. In hebrew it is Ah-sher.

    Yosef might work. It’s the same as Joseph but with a Y and so is easily pronounced.

    Don as in the Hebrew name for Dan. Could also be Doni as short for Doniel.

    Ari. Could be short for Aryeh or Ariel, too.

    Koby as a nickname for Yaakov.

  5. Ezra is great!

    Yonah is another J name that sounds the same of you swap out the J for a Y.

  6. How about the Hebrew name Eliyah, which is just a letter away from the English version – Elijah? Thanks to a famous hollywood actor, this old name is new again. Also, a popular contemporary boys in Israel right now is Ely (ee-lie), which happens to be how the Biblical name Eli is pronounced in English. They are not actually quite the same name because the Biblical name is pronounced a bit differently in Hebrew. But close enough.
    Wishing you be’shah tova!

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