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

Yellow baby boyUpdate: I’ve opened a Forum for Israeli Baby Name Help

A while back I had a thread on popular Israeli baby names for boys. Jon just left following comment:

My wife and I need some help finding a suitable boy’s name. We want to name after my grandfather, Herschl Tzvi (Harry) z”l who passed away last year. We want a Hebrew name that is relatively easily pronounceable. Something that either starts with H or sounds like/ has same meaning as Herschl. We do not like the name Herschl or Tzvi, and we want it to be Hebrew. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Also, are there any good books/lists available online to peruse?
Thanks and Shavua Tov,

Can you help?


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  1. I think Hershel is actually the Yiddish form of Tzvi (which means “deer”) I happen to think Tzvi is a lovely Hebrew name, but I guess your reader doesn’t agree.

    This was a common Yiddish form for some reason. My brother’s name is Yitzchak Izik; there’s also Dov Bear (like the popular blogger) and there must be more.

    Anyway, maybe the reader likes “Eyal” which also means “deer”. All the baby name dictionaries online say it means “strength” but apparently they’re wrong. (here’s a link to “wikimilon” in Hebrew: )

    Ofer also means baby fawn (in hebrew it looks like this: ????( (Ofir, slightly different pronunciation, has a different meaning, I think riches).

  2. what about Naftali? that’s the tribe whose symbol is a deer, that was known for swiftness. Also, Boaz means swift grace and strength, similar to the imagery of a deer.

  3. 3 good resources (no idea if online)

    1) pesok li shimha (dated, but comprehensive, incl phone books, kibbutz membership lists, jerusalem school rosters, etc.; arranged alphabetically by first and last letter combinations)

    2) ve-eleh shemot bene yisrael (lists of names discussed in context of historical usage; academic)

    3) even shoshan dictionary (supplement at end has a simple list of just names)

    shavuaj tov

  4. Abbi wrote: “Anyway, maybe the reader likes “Eyal” which also means “deer”. All the baby name dictionaries online say it means “strength” but apparently they’re wrong.”

    They are not wrong. There are three separate nouns in Hebrew with the consonants alef, yod, lamed, whose three different meanings are determined by their nikkud (vowels/vocalization):

    1. “Ayil” (accent on the first syllable) – means ram, male sheep (as in the story of Akedat Yitzhak).

    2. “Ayyal” (accent on the second syllable, dagesh in the yod) – a kind of deer. Mentioned in Deuteronomy 14:5 as a kosher animal, and in Song of Songs (e.g. last verse) as a fast runner.

    3. “Eyal” (accent on the second syllable, hataf-segol under the alef) – meaning strength. Appears only once in the Bible (I think), in Psalm 88:5.


  5. Lion of Zion says


    the dictionaries are correct afaik (at least biblically, don’t know about contemp usage) and eyal is power.

    Other meaning with same three letters but differetn vowels:
    ayal – ram
    il – some type of work
    ayil – deer

  6. Lion of Zion says

    “work” should read “worm”

  7. I second the suggestions of Ayal and Ofer!

    If you’re interested in a name that starts with H, Harel sounds something like Herschel, but it means “mountain of G-d.” Harel is more common as a common last name, but there’s a popular Israeli male singer named “Harel Skaat.”)

    I’m having trouble thinking of more boy’s names that start with H. Maybe “Hillel,” but that sounds more orthodox than modern Israeli.

  8. If you google in hebrew names for boys, you get quite a few lists
    here is one

    there do not seem to be many names that begin with H.

    where we live Harel is actually popular as a first name.

  9. Thanks for all the posts. So far, we like Eyal and Ayal. Any more suggestions of deer or deer-like animals? What about more H names with a soft H not a “Cha” H?
    Thanks so much for your help!

  10. There’s Hadar, although lately I’ve seen more girls being named Hadar than boys.

  11. I know this is more a case of using similar sounds from each name, but what about Shalev? It’s easily pronounceable and means along the lines of – peaceful, calm and quiet (stole the English from a babynaming site) – not far from certain attributes of a deer/fawn. I have seen in quite a lot in the last few years for boys in Israel.

  12. My favorite name book is Your Name is Your Blessing – Hebrew Names and Their Mystical Meanings by Rabbi Benjamin Blech Elaine Blech. It’s a great resource and it has some really interesting names.

  13. I’ve heard Hallel both for boys and girls here. Other than that, not alot of “H” names.

  14. Harel is extremely common here, at least in the Orthodox community. One of my sons had three in his class. Don’t know that it’s easy to pronounce in English, though.

  15. It seems to be true that there aren’t a lot of boys names that start with H. but here are 2 that nobody mentioned yet:


  16. Ms. Krieger says

    I like Harel and Hallel…but I would avoid naming my child Hosea. The book of Hosea is very disturbing. It is a lot of baggage to put on a newborn babe!

  17. I second Ms. Kreiger. I like Harel, it starts with an H although isn’t an ibex, gazelle or baby horse

  18. My favorite name is Mosè.

  19. Mazal tov!

    We used (in Hebrew) to find a name for one of our sons. It’s just a list of all the names in the tanach (this page is men, but there’s an equivalent female page too), and if you click on the link it tells you who the person was, what they did and where they are mentioned.

    Just need to make sure you read carefully who someone was before actually giving the name – it’s a full list including goodies AND baddies…

  20. We are still stuck on an H name for a boy…

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