Needed: Israeli Girl Baby Name Suggestions

cute baby in pick, with headphones

Forum for Israeli Baby Name Help

Received from reader Clara:

I hope that you and your readers will be able to help me choose a Hebrew name for our daughter.
We would like a name that wouldn’t be out of place in either a secular or modern-orthodox context in Israel or North America.

The people that we are considering naming for were named Tzivia, Tirtza, and Eliezer. How are the names Tzivia and Tirtza perceived in Israel? Is there a feminine form of Eliezer that I’m not aware of? Any other solutions?
Thanks in advance for your help.

My thoughts: Tzivia is rare in religious Zionist circles here, unheard of in secular ones. Tzvia was once popular, but no longer. Don’t even consider Eliezra, even though it’s been used. I’m pretty sure that there are quite a few Tirtzah’s among the newest generation, but mainly in religious circles. You could choose Elah, which means a terebinth tree. My daughter suggested Eliraz.

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Photo credit: Tedsblog


  1. Shoshana Yossef says

    Hannah (Chana or Chani) has always, and will always be a popular Jewish name in all circles!

  2. Talia.

  3. I love the name Tzofia which also sounds like “Sophia”

    • Our daugther is called Chava Tzofia – she was born in NYC and now we live in Israel. We love the name. the book your name is your blessing is a great book to pick a name.

  4. Tzivia is a doe so you can use Ayala. Tirtza means pleasant so you can use Na’amah.

    I do know of a family who has an Eliezra… not my cup of tea.

    • I like those suggestions, both very popular in Israel. Though I think in the US it would be pronounced ayAla and in Israel ayalA. Is Na’amah too much like Naomi for Americans? I think it can also be Nami for short, right? (Or is that a different name?) They both sound nice to my American ear and have no hard to pronounce sounds. I think Tirtza sounds old and Tzivia sounds cool, but I’m new in Israel. I think “tz” is fun to pronounce… maybe I should add Tzvia to my list.

      • One of my daughters’ is a Tzipporah. My inlaws call her Zipporah or Zippy…

        Naomi is also a derivation of the root word ‘na-eem’ which means pleasant.

        • NechamaDinah says

          I agree. My daughter, Tzipporah Chenya goes by Zippy at school, but she is a wild bird! I’ve always loved her name. Yocheved was the other choice.

      • A relative of mine named Ayala has Israeli parents but has lived her whole life in the US –admittedly in very secular/nonJewish circles. She goes by the name Eye-la–in other words, long I then la. Always seemed sad to me to lose the lovely name. Then I saw that Sacha Baron Cohen’s wife, Isla Fisher, took the name Ayala as her Hebrew name when she converted.
        Bottom line, will be a difficult name for an adult in the US in a work setting if that is a relevant consideration.

    • Tzvia is doe but Tzivia, probably not.

      • Actually, it is.

        • Grammatically, the feminine of tzvi, deer, is tzvia. Names are funny, so Tzivia could be from tzvi but not necessarily. Tzvi has another meaning as well, beautiful.

          • Many Tzivias are named after Tzvis. Tzivia was common in Europe, Tzvia wasn’t, even though both are biblical.

          • From A Dictionary of Ashkenazic Given Names by Alexander Beider:

            Biblical ???? (Tziv-eeah), the mother of Yehoash, the king of Judah. The name is derived from the Hebrew common noun, ???? (Tzee-yah), deer, gazelle. Its occurrences in the Slavic countries could have been due to both migrations from Germany and borrowing from the Bible. In recent centuries, Jews from Eastern Europe started to use the name Tzviah whose pronunciation directly corresponds to the common noun.

          • Can’t nest comments further, this is in response to Devo’s quote. It’s still speculation. The obvious explanation is not necessarily the correct one.

  5. Eliana?

    I don’t know that I’ve heard it among Israelis, but in N America it’s well known.

  6. Ayelet is another derivation of Ayala = Tzvia
    Noam also used instead of Na’ama
    Eliana is used here in Israel too. or Elisheva..

  7. Tzion is a girl’s name, accepted but not overly common.
    We have a daughter named Tzruya. The Biblical Tzruya was King David’s sister and the mother of his top generals, Yoav and Avishai. They were known as the sons of Tzruya, like Princess Anne’s children are known as hers. Our Tzruya is a lawyer, and there’s a famous poet, Tzruya Shalev.

  8. Man, I like the name Tzvia. It’s one of those old-sounding names? Let’s bring it back!

    Btw, my sister is named Hannah, but she hated being called “Chana” when she spent a year in Israel… it seemed too religious and old to her. She actually went by “Chen” some of the time. So unless you’re in a religious community in Israel, you might want to think twice before choosing the Biblical names that are really popular in the US (Sarah, Rivka, Rachel, Hannah, Naomi, etc.).

  9. Everyone seems to like Arielle or Ariella. Names like Guy, Shai, Nir and Ran do sound odd in English, not to mention the unpronouncables like Cherut and Gur (try with a British accent and you get Guuuuh).

    • i love shai but my wife hates it. good thing we had a girl. i was open to chets, but refused reshes. in the end there was a name my wife really liked grew on me so i went with a resh. but just one.

    • Our little girl is called Arielle, and I really love it. We call her Ari for short. It’s hard getting people in UK to pronounce Ah-ree-elle ( they often say A-ree-elle with the A-ree rhyming with Harry). Thankfully, calling her Ahhhhhhh-reeeeeee 😉 seems to iron it out somewhat. I think it means Lioness of God.

  10. I’m curious, did they settle on a name and let you know what it is? Did they want to name her after an Eliezer? I can tell you that the name is not super popular even among boys. It’s my son’s name and not terribly common nowadays. They could go for Elisheva or Elianna — that would be shortened to Eli, the nickname common for Eliezers. The baby looks rather mature for one who has not yet been named.

  11. Hi! I just thought I’d add that we also had this dilemma. We wanted to name for a Tzivia (husband’s great-grandmother) and we came up with Tzviya. Her nicknames are Tzviyali or Tzviyoosh (her ganenets call her Tzviyaleh also). The name happens to be very appropriate for her since it derives from deer and mentioned a lot in shir hashirim. My daughter has a LOT energy, like the animal reminds us of (jumping from rock to rock in the desert) and she is also gorgeous (of course, I’m biased:), which also fits- tzviya=beauty of Gd. The name Tzviya is kind of a retro name here in Israel, but it is accepted. We pronounce it Tzvi-YA (emphasis on the end) instead of the old way TZVI-ya (emphasis on the beginning), which I think is much nicer. Good luck!

  12. Thank you for all of your input. We still haven’t chosen a name.
    I was wondering about 2 more names that we’re considering: Sela and Lilah. Are either of these in use in Israel? How are they perceived?
    Thanks again for all of your help.

    • Clara, do you mean Lilach (with a soft chaf at the end) meaning lilac? That is fairly common, although I’m not sure about babies. Sela means rock, and I can’t see it as a girl’s name.

    • Hi Clara,

      You can check about Israeli names and their frequency in Israel in these sites:

      you can also check how common these names for a girl (The Ratio Between Boys And Girls In Israel).


    • I’m sure your little girl has a lovely name by now, but in case others are researching names I thought I’d mention that I know a Selah…In the English version of the Psalms Selah pops up all the time meaning “pause and consider” apparently…

  13. I have a new post on baby names here, with Clara’s question too:

  14. Update: I’ve opened a forum, which I hope will be less cumbersome than wading through comment threads:

  15. They are all names that are at least somewhat common. But, if you are in America, stay away from Tzvia and Tirtza – Americans can’t usually say it. My mother’s name is Tzvia, and we knew that any caller who asked for Sivia, Sylvia, Zivia, or any other imaginable variation (they got really weird, sometimes), was really asking for her.


  1. […] Clara: Thank you for all of your input. We still haven’t chosen a name. I was wondering about 2 more names that we’re considering: Sela and Lilah. Are either of these in use in Israel? How are they perceived? Thanks again for all of your help. […]