Israeli Baby Name Help Needed (November 2010)

babyForum for Israeli Baby Name Help

I’ve collected recent comments asking for help with Israeli baby names. Thanks to all the readers who have contributed suggestions and opinions so far! Click on the user name to see the responses so far.


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.

US Mom:

Anyone have suggestions for modern israeli boy’s names that start with the letter R ? Also, my husband likes the idea of a middle name after a place in Israel, like Negev or Golan–are these real Israeli names? Any other suggestions?


I don’t know if this dialogue is continuing but my husband and I are trying desperately to find a Hebrew boy name that ends with V. My husband insists he wants our baby’s name to end with V like our son Negev. I love the idea of Erev but my cousin in Israel says it’s more a word than a name. Any other ideas? We have the girl name chosen, but finding a boy name that isn’t Nadav or Raviv is hard! Please help!!!
Daniella continues: Is the name Raziel popular in Israel?

I asked this question on the Mother in Israel Facebook page.


Is it bizarre to name a boy after to women? Two of my female relatives that I was very close to recently passed. This might potentially be the last child born for many years so I really want to honor them. On the other hand I dont want my son (if it is a boy) to feel uncomfortable with it.

We are thinking of Zev LeeAm. Any thoughts on the spelling? I am trying to come up with a way that it will be pronounced correctly and not Liam.


Just curious how popular Leila is in Israel? How about Leela/Lila?

Thank you for your input.

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Photo credit: titlap


  1. For Daniela, I suggest Kislev. It’s not common, but it is certainly an Israeli name.

  2. Tova – I think people in America do that all the time naming boys after girls and v.v. I think whatever you do Americans will naturally put the the emphasis on the first sylable. How about Liyam?

  3. @Clara & Inbal: Lilah – like layla or leelah is very uncommon. I think 1.because it’s an Arab name and 2. It’s too close to lailah which means night. What about Lilach? It means lilac.

    @USMom: Golan is definitely a name. Negev, less so. Sharon (Shah’-Roan) is more often a boy’s name (but you’d obviously need a diff English name)and is a region of Israel. Dan… well, sort of. There’s a Har Ephraim. (my son’s name is Ephraim), Yarden (Jordan) is more of a girl’s name.

    @Daniella: Yoav, Segev, Aviv, Yaniv, Yariv, Niv, Dov,

    Tova: non-religious (especially ashkenazi) Israelis frequently don’t name after family at all, but I’ve seen lots of cross-gender naming. I knew a girl named Alice who was named after someone named Eli, for example.
    I think if I named Lee-Am in Hebrew, I would davka make it Liam in English to make the kid’s life easier, but that’s just me.

    • Ms. Krieger says

      What is wrong with naming a little girl Lailah? (Night)?

      My daughter’s English name is BeBe Lena (after her great-grandmothers) and we wanted a meaningful Hebrew name that sounded similar, so we chose Barucha Lilah (because she was born at night.)

      We did not consult any Israelis before choosing this, however 😉

    • I disagree about sharon- I know a ton of sharon girls and only a few sharon boys.

  4. “I love the idea of Erev but my cousin in Israel says it’s more a word than a name.”

    as opposed to shachar?

    ” I’ve seen lots of cross-gender naming”

    someone told me last year they went to a wedding in israel and the bride and groom had the same name (i forget the name)

    “I think whatever you do Americans will naturally put the the emphasis on the first sylable”


  5. Daniella – Yogev?

    I also wanted to chime in that naming baby boys in memory of women is very common in America, and has been for a long time. My father Chaim was named for both of his grandmothers (Chaya and Chava), who died in the Holocaust. Why would a boy be embarrassed by this? It’s not like one goes around introducing oneself with the story behind one’s naming.

    • if the issue is a male name that is in memory of a woman, I don’t think it’s a problem at all.

  6. Israeli names are a quandary because even if one social group uses a name others would never consider it.

    Clara: Sela isn’t common because it means stone and Lilah is Arabic.

    USMom: Regev is modern and incredibly Earthy (because it means, from the Earth our dirt) But the last comment was right, Golan is used, Negev really isn’t. Lots of region or place names are more Feminine.

    Tova: Using the first letter of the deceased’s name isn’t odd in terms of American Jewish naming practices even if it is a gender crossover. Liam might be easier down the line and you’ll have to repeat it to teachers regardless of how you spell it.

    Daniella: Raziel isn’t terribly common but there is a famous reporter named Razzi. On the other hand, if you’re from a very spiritual background, naming after the angels can be considered a large task to shoulder on a kid.

    I wanted to name a boy after a great Rabbi but every person I talked to said the weight of this particular name was too much.

  7. haven’t read the other comments so sorry if I am repeating:
    @clara:Lilah sounds like the arab name layla and so is not popular. sela- as in amen sela? sounds to much like sela that ends with ayn-a rock..
    Us mom: Raviv. Ro-ee Ron. Ran. golan def. a name. negev less so, but can pass as a name. also: gilad.gilboa.
    @daniella: Segev. Sagi. Shalev.
    @Tova: YES but could depend on the name. but boy’s names for girls are much more common.
    @Inbal: see my answer to clara

  8. I think the question isn’t so much “is it a name?” because frankly everything is a name in Israel right now. (I heard someone calling a Yated to come get a snack at the pool last summer.) It’s more “what connotation does this word have?” and whether most people in your social group think it’s weird vs. original. The comments that point out that Shachar and Tzur have almost the same meanings as Layla and Sela are certainly correct, but they’re just not used the same way in naming. Tzur for example sounds current to me whereas Sela sounds a little like the parents are stretching. Oh, and not that grammatical gender has stopped anyone lately, but I would assume a Sela is male. Take this with a grain of salt because I am notoriously cranky about neologistic names!

    I know of plenty Tal-Tal, Bar-Bar, and Adi-Adi weddings.

  9. “I wanted to name a boy after a great Rabbi but every person I talked to said the weight of this particular name was too much.”

    seriously? there’s a long tradition in jewish and non-jewish cultures of naming after great people. has any one had a breakdown because they didn’t live up to their namesake? i think it’s fair to say that most people go through life with seldomly, if ever, thinking about who they’re named after.

    • No, some rabbinical names are commonly used (all of my children are named Bear as second name for instance). When the attributes of the Rabbi were joyous and light it makes sense. When you talk about naming a child after the Rabbinic adversary of Hillel, people tend to say that one might be too much.

      My husband also wanted a Lahavel “Blade of HaShem” Lahav is OK on its own, but the extra emphasis is extreme way to enter the world.

      Most of the comments are dead on, in Israel anything goes depending on the community. But when people give eccentric names based on a whim it can always be hard on a kid, or not.

      An Israeli mother in my daughter’s gan demands her son’s name is David. DAY-vid! She thinks it will make him American… I can’t help but roll my eyes (we have no English speakers in the city, it is ridiculous).

    • Right, what about Moshe or Aaron?

      • Nearly any other name in our history works, Oz Shamai was too much. We went with Oz-Juda Bear and it fits him. Maybe my opposition to the overly eccentric name is that I honestly feel a name is an inseparable part of who they are and so those attribute are part of what I hope for my child.

        • another rabbinical name that doesn’t work: Yishmael. it has a nice meaning and Rabbi Yishmael ben Elisha had a very special relationship with god, but I personally did not have the guts to name my kid that…

  10. William is a big name in my family. The prospect of Liam is tantalizing to me, but is it too weird?

  11. Liam is fine if it’s Li-am in Hebrew. I used to babysit one. It didn’t take much getting used to even though I’d never heard it before.

    I’ve never met a “Tzuk” and the “Tzur”s I’ve met were AviTzur or Tzuriel. Selah… I’ve heard as a last name.

  12. Shachar does not mean the same as Lailah. It means Dawn and can be used for a boy or a girl.
    The truth is, basically anything goes these days and it’s a very individual decision. Personally, I had to see each of my children first before deciding if the mane we had thought of while pregnant “fit” them.
    Why do people living in the US want to give Israeli names anyway? Make aliyah!

  13. I agree with the comments that anything goes here. I have Israeli cousins who named their children “Aluma” (no, not bundle of wheat, but a ray of light,) Stav Boochrat (blessed Fall,) Noga (also light), Raz (secret). First 3 are girls and last is a boy.

    I gave birth 2 months ago and in my baby massage class, which has a mix of secular and dati leumi mothers, we have 2 Tamars, Noga, and other 2 syllable names. One woman has another daughter named Gefen. Apparently fruit names are popular.

    As long as the meaning is nice, people think it is nice. We took a word from TaNaCh and made it into our daughter’s name. My mother thought we were going to cause lots of trouble for our daughter because it is unique, but 99% of Israelis who we meet tell us it is unique and beautiful. She finally accepted that things are different in the States and Israel. Our daughter’s name is Bikura – the first fruit. Hopefully we will be right about future reactions to her name. 🙂

    • Hi Chana,
      It seems to me that unique names are common there too, although maybe less so in religious Jewish circles.
      My husband says that sephardim often add bechor/bechora to the name of a first-born child.

      • Well, Bikura is our first daughter and first child born since we made aliya. But, she is not our first born.

  14. Just considering the Israeli public opinion is easy, we have a lot of Russian family so while I love the name Noga, it means foot in Russian. The name Hodiayah is quite popular and just lovely, but the extended family couldn’t wrap their heads around it. Lot’s of names can sound awkward in translation and you can’t find a universal fit for every society. I agree, when you see your child, you get a better feeling of how they should be called.

  15. o.k. so, my husband likes both Zev and Lee’am but doesn’t like them togetrher because the meanings don’t go together like our daughter’s do : Siona Maayan – wellspring of Zion and Nava Shemesh – beautiful sun. Zev is a keeper. Any suggestions on a middle name starting with L?

  16. Are there any books of modern Israeli names? Most that I can find are of Hebrew/Biblical names.

  17. Sara-my husband and I were considering Shammai as well if this one is a boy. We’re not any more for this pregnancy, for other reasons, but it might come back.
    I forget who mentioned it, but I’m named for two males-my great-uncle (who went by Jack) and my maternal grandfather.
    Perlsand-while not looking for specifically “Israeli” names, we are looking for Hebrew ones for our children, although for a lot of various reasons we do not wish to make aliyah. However, we want their names to be Hebrew or at least have obvious equivalents because that will just make life easier. My name doesn’t translate well and, although I have a Hebrew name that my parents gave to me, I use it only when I have to, since I prefer my English one.

  18. Hi, I am expecting a baby girl in June and am struggling with a name. We’re thinking Samara for an English name, and want her Hebrew name to be after my Grandfather, whose name was Dov.

    My son is Justin and his Hebrew name is Hillel Sasson. Is Hillel something that Israelis wouldn’t use?

    Any thoughts or suggestions? Thanks.

  19. Aliya bound says

    My husband thinks Liam sounds Irish – I said, we’d be in Israel and people would say LeeAm. So, how about LeeAmi – could this work as a boys name?

    Another thought, my husband likes names with ‘chanan’ as part of the shoresh. I like Elchanan but it would most likely be shortened to Eli – which isn’t good for us because we already have another child with that nickname. Any other ideas, aside from Yochanan?

  20. Hi. I am looking for ideas for a baby boy’s name. Ideally, I would like one that means “strength” or “stability”. We live in the US and do not want a name that is hard for Americans to know how to pronounce. Any ideas? Thank you!

    • Gavriel/Gabriel (God is my might)

      Yatziv means stable and I actually do know a guy named Yatziv, but it’s not a common name at all.

    • Sho, my son’s name is Boaz–“strength is within him.” American grandparents seem to do okay with it.

    • Eitan! It means strong, is easily pronouncable, and can translate into English as Ethan. I know both secular and religious young kids in Israel and America names Eitan.

  21. Hi! I’m onto baby number three and again, my husband insist that we keep with the name ending in “V”. We have two sons- Negev and Stav… I still have a girl name just in case, but if we have a boy- we’re struggling. Now we’d like to also find a name that has a different ending (other than -ev and -av). My husband LOVES Litov/ Lee’tov but I’m not sure… I love Dov but we have been keeping with the “new” tradition of naming for beloved family members who have died so we are looking for L and M names… is this impossible? I’m at a loss!


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