Unusual Israeli Baby Names

'Baby' photo (c) 2006, M Glasgow - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/Readers from overseas come here to find out whether a Hebrew or Israeli name they have chosen “fits” here in Israel. I think that the parents who chose the following names would have been discouraged by readers.

Some of the “weird” names suggestedby readers (via Facebook) are actually common, like Nehorai, Keshet or Maytav (my daughter has 3 in her third-grade class). That’s because my readers are English speakers and tend not to connect with the trendy Israeli names.

My all-time favorite unusual girl’s name is Kefira. The parents saw the feminine form of lion on a list of baby names. Unfortunately, Kefira has a much more comon meaning–heresy.

My favorite boys’ name is Hidai (pronounced hee-dai), which even Israelis find unusual. The  parents didn’t invent it–II Samuel 23:30 mentions Hidai as one of King David’s warriors. It fits right in with the more popular -ai endings like Itai and Nehorai. We also knew an Ilai, another of David’s warriors mentioned in I Chronicles, 11:29.

Soon, Israeli names may have to pass through a government committee for approval:

The so-called Public Names Committee would include an educator, a psychologist and a social worker. The panel would advise the interior minister in the event that a Population Registry clerk is concerned about the name parents have selected for their newborn; in that case, the parents could also consult the committee.

I’m not sure I’m in favor of this. Israelis are so diverse–what kind of committee could make fair decisions? So many trendy names today would  never have gotten through this panel.

Here are a few more unusual names. Let us know what you think! (Just don’t be mean, as parents are reading.)

Unusual Boys’ Names

Snir (name of a river in the Hula valley)

Yaal (moving upward? Not to be confused with the girls’ name Yael.)

Amizakai (My nation is pure?)

Unusual Girls’ Names

Achzava (disappointment). Reader Leah says that this girl, one of a long line of sisters, actually lives in Beit Shemesh.

Har and Aretz (mountain and land). The reader wasn’t sure if they are boys or girls.

Shuvi Shabbat Shalom Joya

Vayehi Or Bracha (let there be light . . . of blessing)

Bat-Yiftah, daughter of Yiftah. (Yiftah made a pledge to sacrifice the first thing he saw in battle, and it was his daughter.

Seorit (sounds like Seorah, barley).


Meirit, Aviella, Yochana – all uncommon feminizations of boys’ names.

Heichal (palace)

I’m sure I haven’t hit the tip of the iceberg here. What can you add to the list?

More baby name posts:

Israeli Baby Name Queries December 2012

Top 20 Israeli Baby Names for Girls

Top 20 Israeli Baby Names for Boys

Best Bloopers by New Olim

Israeli Baby Names Page



  1. I didn’t read Hannah’s comment before I posted mine.