Israeli Baby Name Queries: December 2012

Baby in blue sleeping peacefullyI get a lot of inquiries about Hebrew and Israeli baby names. There are lots of lists on the internet, but they don’t give you the context you need to make a wise decision.

Here are a few recent questions:

  1. Adam: Need Help with name for boy named after Saba Shmuel ( we don’t like Shmuel or Samuel) We would like something Hebrew that is somewhat easily pronounceable in English too.
  2. J: We are wanting a Hebrew name that might be okay in Israel but we live in the US (Texas, in fact) and we are having a very hard time coming up with something that works for both.We have an Abigail and Sarah already and I’m not a fan of most Matriarch names… Rivkah and Rachael for instance…A little background… We lost a baby at 35 weeks in May (Asher Ezekiel) and during my grief I cried out to HaShem and asked for twins.I’m carrying boy/girl twins. 🙂 We conceived just 6 weeks 2 days after our loss.
    The boy’s name has been easy Levi Mattias (Levi meaning joined or connected).
    I want a meaningful name for my girl too and I’m just not sure we are anywhere close to picking a name out.
    First, I love Adriel but was instructed not to feminize the “el” at the end and also that because it’s a man’s name in the Tanakh that I shouldn’t use it. So, Adrielle is a nono? I’m confused… Don’t people do Gavrielle and Danielle all of the time or is that inappropriate?
    I love Liel but here it looks like Leel. Not as pretty. Would the spelling cause the name to lose its original meaning? Would that be acceptable for a girl?
    I also like the name Aviya – but was reading it is most often used for a boy. Is that true? And do you have any further suggestions for me?
  3. SK: You mentioned Eden was used for a boy or girl now — but when used for a boy, is it considered ‘new/hippy’? Or kind of normal? (I’d have a tough time telling my US family that my son’s name is Eden…but, I do like that name anyway. Also, Eder? For a boy? Thoughts?

My thoughts: No to Adriel/le or Gavrielle for a girl. Gavriella is used for girls.  Danielle is used for girls, but not as much as a few years ago. Aviya is a man in the Bible, but more common here as a girl’s name.

I vote no for Eder as well, as it means “herd”. SK found it on an Israeli name website, but I’ve never seen it as a first name.

Do you have name suggestions for Adam, J, and SK?

Thanks to reader Tova for the baby picture.

More Israeli baby name posts from A Mother in Israel:

Top 20 Israeli Baby Names for Boys, 2010

Top 20 Israeli Baby Names for Girls, 2010

Popular Israeli Names for Girls (October 2008)

Popular Israeli Names for Boys (October 2008)

Help This Reader Choose a Hebrew Baby Name (November 2009)

More Popular Israeli Baby Names (April 2010)

Help Readers Choose an Israeli Baby Name (June 2010)

Israeli Baby Name Help Needed (November 2010)

Needed: Israeli Baby Girl Name Suggestions (September 2010)

Unusual Israeli Baby Names



  1. The only people called Aviya are girls – have never heard of it as a man’s name.. which does not mean it isn’t – but I have a lot of Israeli friends and know about 7 female Aviyas and no male ones.

    I also know male and female Eden’s – and all of them are quite conventional people and certainly no hippy parents.

  2. I agree that Aviya is more common for girls – even though the biblical Aviya was male, Gila Almagor’s novel “hakayitz shel Aviya” made the name popular primarily for girls.
    Even though in English Danielle and Gabrielle are girl’s names, I’d agree that in Israel they should be Daniella and Gabriella. On the other hand, my 2 year old has a girl named Michael (NOT Michal!) in his Maon, so go figure!
    In terms of naming after Shmuel, maybe you can play around with the root of the word, which is shama (hear) – Elishama or Shimon or Shmaya all mean the same thing as Shmuel.

    • The root of the word Shmuel is not from “shama”, rather from “sha’al” (to ask) – even though it doesn’t sound like it – according to the Book of Shmuel – Chana named her son Shmuel “…ki me-et Hashem she’iltiv” – “… because I asked Hashem for him.” – so according to that, a closer name would be Shaul, or Saul. I’m speaking as a mother to a boy named Shmuel.

      A funny annecdote – I was waiting in a queue in Israel with my son Shmuel (when he was about a year old) and a girl behind me (about 10 yrs old) asked me what his name is. I answered “Shmuel”. She looked puzzled and said (in Hebrew) “Shmuel? A new name I suppose”. I then asked her “what is your name?” and she answered “Eden”. What name sounds ‘newer’ to you??

      • My sister, whose Hebrew name is Penina but calls herself Nina, had an Israeli co-worker who liked trendy names. When the co-worker heard Penina she was enthralled, until she realized that it was a traditional Jewish name.

      • I’d say ‘Shmuel’ is newer, especially as ‘Eden’ played host to the first humans!

  3. I am surprised at this comment- I actually know a few men Aviya and did not consider it strange for a men at all! but it’s good for a girl too
    Adam- I also had a saba Shmuel and when my oldest son was born, we considered Elkana since he was Shmuel’s father in the bible. (we ended up just using Shmuel as a second name)

  4. Why not spell Liel as Lielle?

  5. How about Sophia/ Tzophia for a girl’s name that works in America and Israel

  6. J: I’m assuming you don’t want a name with a “ch” in it, otherwise, Bracha or Nechama would be good in the circumstances. What about Maya – from Hashem – popular recently in Israel, I think, and easy to say in Texas. Is Matan (gift) used as a girl’s name? Our boy/girl twins were born the week of parshas Vayeshev and our daughter is called Tamar, from the parsha, Chemdah – delight ( again not so good for the US), Avigail, but you’ve used that already. We also had Nesyah lined up as a potential name (God’s miracle) easy to say, but quite unusual I think. Would you consider one of the “joy” , “praise” names? Gila, Rina, or Shira, Tehillah.

    • Sorry, I tried to make it in response to this comment… Not the other…

      It’s funny you mentioned that as our Rabbi suggested Shira and we are likely going to use it as a middle name. I love Mayim and Roni and my husband likes Rina (but it reminds me of the American actress Lisa Rina)…

      The name Aviel? Is it only a boy name? I’ve fallen in love with it for a girl and while it is close to Avigail, our Avigail no longer lives with us (she’s 18) so I think it would be okay.

  7. Naomi Rosenman says

    I have a friend who used the name Aniya-very beautiful. B’shaa Tova

  8. Aviya is both a boys’ and a girls’ name – it’s from the Tanach. However, it is considered a “not so good” name for boys because of the person in the Bible, whereas the female Aviya was a positive personality. I hear it more often for girls, although I happened to hear it as a boy’s name once. Meaning: G-d is my father.
    You might also consider Batya (Daughter of G-d) or Bat-El (same meaning).

    • Thanks for all the responses so far- I really do love reading about how names are received in Israel vs. the US, etc.
      So Eden might still be a contender, but how about another boy’s name with ED? (looking for something that starts with Ayin, or has ED with the letter ‘ayin’ as part of it, rather than just the “E” sound.


      • Does the vowel have to be “e”? Because there are many great names that contain ayin dalet, but with a different vowel: Ido, Aviad, Elad, Adin…

        • thanks for the suggestions! well- the person i’d like to honor’s name is Ed, but I’m thinking it could be meaningful if the letters are ayin dalet, and may not necessarily be spelled in english like that- although it would be preferable!
          How popular/secular/religious is Adin for a boy? I know Adina is a well known Jewish-American name.

          • Amiad is another ?? name.

          • Adin is not as common as Adina – it’s also a newer name; you won’t meet many adults named Adin (other than rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, I guess). I know the name is used by religious Israelis but I don’t know if it’s used by secular Israelis or not.

          • Adin as a boy’s name is tough. I know some Adins but it means gentle and delicate–not something a lot of boys want to live with in our cultures (both Israel and US).

        • How about Ido but spell it Edo?

    • It’s funny you mentioned that as our Rabbi suggested Shira and we are likely going to use it as a middle name. I love Mayim and Roni and my husband likes Rina (but it reminds me of the American actress Lisa Rina)…

      The name Aviel? Is it only a boy name? I’ve fallen in love with it for a girl and while it is close to Avigail, our Avigail no longer lives with us (she’s 18) so I think it would be okay.

    • Thank you!

      Is Aviel a boy name strictly in Israel?

      And if used as a girl name would that be a bad idea? Or indifferent?

  9. About alternatives to Shmuel: a friend who struggled with infertility for many years and finally had a son, named him Shiloh — the place where Hannah prayed for a child.

  10. Shmuel;was considered by Isaac Luria to be on a higher level than all the other prophets besides Moshe and Achiaya haShiloni. . From what I can tell it was well known Jewish name. The brother of my wife’s father was named Shmuel. but if you do not like it perhaps Benyamin is good since that is the area of the home of shmuel. he lived in rama which is in the area of benyamin.

  11. abba's rantings says

    for a male aviyah:…1c.1.rN72LOvGkkA&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&fp=5e8b8c2eb5670d45&bpcl=39967673&biw=1536&bih=770

    “I love Liel but here it looks like Leel.”

    as mentioned above, use lielle. my daugher has a similar name and we used this type of spelling

  12. Placido Etzioni says

    I suggest “Eder,” with an aleph and two segols (the “eh” sound), which means something like “might” (cognate to the more common “Addir,” which might be an option). The word meaning “herd” is spelled with ‘ayin, a tsere under it (like “ay” in “hay,” at least for Ashkenazim), and a segol (“eh”) under the dalet.

    For Shemuel, try “Eli” (Shemuel’s priestly mentor). BTW, one biblical Aviyah is the son of Shemuel, as is Yoel/Joel (see I Samuel 8:2-3), although I would not choose to name my child after them (again see I Sam 8:2-3).

  13. for Ed–maybe Eli like the priest who saw Chana praying . . .

  14. What about the name Gilad – for Ed.

  15. Eden for a boy can be Aiden or even Aden in America which is super popular now, but with the eden meaning.

  16. What a great resource! I’m going to tweet this ASAP!

  17. If you’re into this sort of thing, it might be worth looking into Kabbalistic meanings behind names, could be of some help, or at least interesting reading.

  18. This isn’t completely related to the post, so I’m sorry if this isn’t the right place to ask.

    How common is Ayelet? Is it dated?

    I know that in Israel now Ayala is far more popular…


    • Hi J, Ayelet was common a few years ago, I think your sense might be correct that it is a little dated now.

      • What about Eden?

        How common is it? Is it dated? What kind of impression does it give? What circle is it most popular in? etc. 😀


        • Eden is a fairly common name that is usually for girls right now. It is more popular in the non-religious circles than Religious Zionist, but would be accepted in either. I have not seen too many chareidi/chassidish people with that name.

  19. On the other hand, I haven’t heard Ayala too much, either. Ayelet Hashachar, though I see every so often.

  20. Hi! I am currently looking for israeli or hebrew names for a baby girl. She’s supposse to be born during April 2013. My husband and I are looking for something meaningful as well as exotic or related to kabbalah. We live in South America, so “ch” or “tz” sounds are not really an option. Also, I found the name “maya”, but my israeli friends say they haven’t heard of it, they actually said it is arameic. We have considered the name Amalya, but sounds too Spanish. You’ll see my name is Romane, so I cannot give my daughter a regular name. Please someone help us!

  21. Well my nephew’s name is Aviya. Yes the connotation (biblical) might not have been so great but my sister loved the name and the rest is history 🙂 There’s no doubt though it used for both boys and girls but honestly (sis hope you’re not reading it works much better as a girls name 🙂