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Choosing a Jewish Name

Our names are a key to who we are. They distinguish us from other people. A good name directs and inspires us throughout our life. If you need any assistance in choosing a name, please contact Heritage office

what's in a name



Every Jewish person needs to have a Jewish name. It is our connection to Jewish people. Even if your baby will have an English name, he or she should have a Jewish name too.

Usually parents choose a name after the birth of their baby. If it is a girl, parents name her at the first opportunity in the synagogue during the Torah reading Boys receive their name on the day of their Bris (circumcision) – usually on the eighth day.

If adult man did not have a Jewish name, he chooses his name after his circumcision. 

An adult woman chooses a name and congregation announces it during the Torah reading.

Bride and groom might want to choose their Jewish name and to put them in the Ketuba. In this case a name has to be chosen no later then 30 days before the wedding.

It is never too late to have a Jewish name!

When choosing a name for your baby (or for yourself), first look at your ancestors (we don’t name after live person). See if there is anybody in your family who can be a role model for your baby (or for yourself). If you have a son and want to name him after your grandmother, you can find a boy’s name which is similar to the grandmother’s (the same first letter or the same meaning). You can also name your child after Jewish heroes (Moshe, Miriam, Ester, Shimshon etc.) Another option is to choose a  Jewish name that has a nice interpretation or sounds nice.

Choose from the following list of boys' and girls' names. If you need help in choosing a name or finding a proper spelling of a name, contact us.

Once you chose the name for your baby you might consider:

Putting Mezuza in your house
Starting lighting candles on Friday night
Giving a blessing to your baby

All the best, and, yes, Mazel Tov!

names of boys


Jewish Names for Boys

A

ADAM means "man, mankind"
AHARON (AARON) Moshe's older brother
AKIVA Rabbi Akiva was a first century scholar and teacher
ALON means "oak tree"
AMI means "my people"
AMICHAI means "my people are alive"
AMIEL means "God of my people"
AMIR means "mighty, strong"
AMITAI means "true, faithful"
AMNON King David's oldest son
AMOS An 8th century prophet from northern Israel
ARIEL name for Jerusalem, means "lion of God"
ARNON means "roaring stream"
ARYEH, ARI means "lion"
ASAF means "gather"
ASHER son of Jacob
AVI means "my father"
AVIAD means "my father (or God) is eternal"
AVICHAI means "my father (or God) lives"
AVIDAN means "my father (or God) is just"
AVIEL means "my father is God"
AVISHAI grandson of Jesse
AVIV means "spring, springtime", means "father (or God) of light"
AVNER King Saul's uncle and army commander
AVRAHAM (ABRAHAM) father of the Jewish people
AYAL means "deer" or "ram"

B

BAR means "grain, pure, possessor of" in Hebrew, means: "son (of), wild, outside" in Aramaic
BARAK soldier in the Bible, means "lightening"
BEN-AMI means "son of my people"
BEN-ZION means "son of Zion"
BENYAMIN (BENJAMIN) Jacob's youngest son, means "son of my right hand" - connotation of "strength"
BOAZ King David's great-grandfather and Ruth's husband

C

CHAIM means "life" in Hebrew
CHATZKEL Yiddish pet form of EZEKIEL

D

DAN Jacob's son, means "judge"
DANIEL interpreter of dreams in the Book of Daniel, pious and wise man in the Book of Ezekiel, means "God is my judge"

DAVID King of Israel, courageous hero who killed Goliath
DORON means "gift"
DOV means "bear"
DROR means "freedom" and "bird (swallow)"

E

EHUD means "united" in Hebrew
EITAN means "strength" in Hebrew
ELI means "ascension" in Hebrew
ELIYAHU Famous prophet, meaning "my God"
ELKANA
EPHRAIM From the Hebrew name Ephrayim which meant "fruitful"...
EREZ means "cedar" in Hebrew.
EYAL means "deer" or "ram" in Hebrew.
EZRA means "help" in Hebrew

F

FEIVEL
FISHEL means "fish" in Yiddish.

G

GAVRIEL, GABRIEL M JEWISH
GIDEON means "feller" or "hewer" in Hebrew

H

HAREL means "mountain of God"

HILLEL The famous Rabbi of Talmud, means "praise"
HIRSH, HERSHEL, HESHEL means "deer" in Yiddish.
HOD member of Asher's tribe, means "splendor"

I

IDAN means "era, historic period"
ILAN means "tree"
IMMANUEL means "God is with us"
ISAAC (YITZCHAK) son of Abraham, means "laughter"
ISER Yiddish form of ISRAEL
ISRAEL means "concurring God"
ISSACHAR Jacob's son, means "there is a reward"
ITAI one of David's warriors, means "friendly"
ITAMAR Aharon's son, means "island of palm (trees)"

K

KOPPEL Yiddish pet form of JACOB

L

LAVI means "lion"

LEVI Jacob's son
LIOR means "I have light"
LIRON, LIRAN means "I have joy"

M

MALACHI a prophet
MAOR mean "light"
MATAN means "gift"
MATITYAHU father of Judah Maccabi, means "gift of God"
MEIR (MEYER) means "light"
MELECH means "king" in Hebrew.
MENACHEM means "comforter"
MENASHE Joseph's son
MENDEL Yiddish pet form of MENAHEM
MICAH a prophet
MICHAEL angel and messenger of God
MOSHE (MOSES) prophet/leader who brought the Jews out of slavery in Egypt
MORDECHAI Queen Esther's cousin, he asked her to save the Jews of Persia from annihilation
MOTEL Yiddish pet form of MORDECAI

N

NADAV means "generous"
NATAN (NATHAN) a prophet, means "He gave"
NATANEL (NATHANIEL) King David's brother, means "God gave"
NAPHTALI Jacob's son
NECHEMYA means "comforted by God"
NIR means "field"
NISSAN name of Hebrew month
NISSIM means "miracles"
NITZAN means "bud (of a plant)"
NOACH (NOAH) righteous man who was asked by God to build an ark that would survive the great flood
NOAM means "pleasant"

O

ODED means "to restore"
OFER means "deer"
OMER means "sheaf" (wheat)
OMRI King of Israel
OR (ORR) means "light"
OREN means "pine tree"
ORI means "my light"
OTNIEL means "strength of God"
OVADYA means "servant of God"
OZ means "strength"

P

PAZ means "golden"
PENUEL means "face of God"
PINCHAS Aaron's grandson

R

RAANAN means "fresh, invigorating" in Hebrew.
RACHAMIM means "compassionate, mercy"
RAM means "height"
RAN means "joy" or "song"
RAPHAEL angel in the Bible, means "God heals"
RAVID means "ornament"
RAVIV means "rain, dew"
RAZIEL means "God is my secret"
REUVEN (REUBEN) Jacob's first son
REUEL means "friend of God"
ROI means "my shepherd"
RON means "song, joy"
RONEN means "song, joy"

S

SAGI means "sublime"
SET (SETH) Adam's son
SEGEV means "glory, majesty, exalted"
SHACHAR means "dawn" in Hebrew.
SHAI means "gift"
SHALEV means "peaceful"
SHALOM means "peace"
SHAUL (SAUL) First king of Israel
SHEFER means "pleasant, beautiful"
SHIMON (SIMON) Jacob's son
SHIMSHON Biblical figure, known for strength and betrayal by Delilah
SHLOMO (SOLOMON) David's son, built the first Temple
SHMUEL (SAMUEL) prophet and judge means "God has heard"
SIMCHA means "joy"

T

TAL means "dew"
TAMIR means "tall"
TEVYE
TOMER means "tree"
TUVIYA means "God is good"
TZVI means "deer"
TZVIEL means "gazelle of God"

U

URIEL angel
URIYA, URI means "God is my flame"
UZI means "my strength"
UZIEL means "God is my strength"
VELVEL means "wolf" in Yiddish

Y/J

YAACOV (JACOB) son of Isaac
YADID means "beloved, friend"
YAIR means "He will shine"
YAKIR means "precious"
YANIV means "he will prosper" in Hebrew.
YANKEL
Jewish Yiddish pet form of JACOB
YARDEN means "to flow down, descend"
YARON means "He will be happy"
YECHIEL means "may god live"
YIGAL means "He will redeem"
YECHIEL means "May God live"
YEHOSHUA (JOSHUA) Moses' successor as leader
YEHUDA (JUDAH) son of Jacob and Leah
YITZHAK (ISAAC) son of Abraham, means "laughter"
YIRMEYAHU a prophet
YOAV David's nephew
YOEL (JOEL) Prophet, means "God is willing"
YONAH (JONAH) Prophet, means "dove"
YONATAN (JONATHAN) Saul's son and David's friend, means "God has given"
YOSEF (JOSEPH) son of Jacob and Rachel
YOSSI pet form of Yosef
YOTAM means "God is perfect"

Z

ZACHARIAH (ZACHARY) Prophet, means "remembering God"
ZALMAN Yiddish form of SOLOMON
ZAMIR means "song"
ZEEV means "wolf"
ZIV means "to shine"
ZOHAR means "light"

names of girls


Jewish Names for Girls

A

ADI means "jewel" or "ornament" in Hebrew.
ADINA means "gentle"
AHUVA means "beloved" in Hebrew.
ALIZA means "joyful" in Hebrew.
ARIELLA means "lioness of God"
AVIGAIL (ABIGAIL) King David's wife means "father's joy"
AVITAL King David's wife means "father of dew" referring to God as sustainer
AVIVA Feminine form of AVIV - "spring"
AYALA , AYELET means "gazelle, hind" in Hebrew.

B

BAILA means "white" in Yiddish.
BASHE, BASYA Pet form of BATYAH
BATSHEVA King David's wife
BINA means "understanding, intelligence, wisdom"
BLUMA means "flower" in Yiddish.
BRACHA means "blessing"

C

CARMELA, CARMIELA means "vineyard, garden, orchard"
CHANA mother of Samuel, means "grace, gracious, merciful"
CHARNA From a Slavic word meaning "dark".
CHAVA Hebrew form of EVE
CHAYA Feminine form of CHAYIM -"life"

D

DAFNA means "laurel"
DALIA means "flower"
DANA means "to judge"
DANIELLA means "God is my judge"
DEBORAH, DEVORAH, DVORAH prophetess and judge who led revolt against Canaanite king, means "to speak kind words" or "swarm of bees"
DINAH Jacob's daughter, means "judgment"
DITZA means "joy"

E

EIDEL means "delicate" in Yiddish.
ELIANA means "my God has answered" in Hebrew.
ELISHEVA Hebrew form of ELIZABETH
ELKA Feminine form of ELKANAH
ESTER "hidden", Jewish queen of Persia in Purim story

F

FAIGA Derived from Yiddish feygl meaning "bird".
FREYDE means "joy" in Yiddish.
FRUMA means "pious" in Yiddish.

G

GILAH means "joy, happiness" in Hebrew.
GITA, GITTEL means "good" in Yiddish.
GOLDA, GOLDIE means "gold" in Yiddish.

H

HADAR means "splendor, glory" in Hebrew.
HADASSAH means "myrtle tree" in Hebrew
HENA Yiddish form of HANNAH
HINDA Yiddish form of HANNAH

I

ILANA Feminine form of ILAN -"tree"
IRIT means "asphodel" in Hebrew

K

KESHET means "rainbow" in Hebrew.
KREINDEL means "crown" in Yiddish.

L

LEAH Jacob's wife
LEEBA means "beloved" in Yiddish.
LIORA means "I have light"
LIYA means "I have God"

M

MALKA means "queen" in Hebrew.
MARGALIT means "pearl"
MAYTAL means "dew water" in Hebrew.
MAZAL means "star" with the connotation of fortune
MENUCHA means "tranquility" in Hebrew.
MERAV means "abundant" in Hebrew. This was the name of a daughter of Saul
MICHAL King Saul's daughter
MIRIAM prophetess, singer, dancer, and sister of Moses

N

NAAMA means "pleasant"
NAOMI mother-in-law of Ruth
NATANIA means "gift of God"
NAVA means "beautiful"
NECHAMA means "comfort"
NESIA means "miracle of God"
NOA Biblical woman means "tremble"

O

OFRA, OPHRA means "deer"
ORIT means "light" in Hebrew.

P

PERLE means "pearl" in Yiddish, also used as a Yiddish vernacular form of MARGARET.
PENINA Elkanah's wife means "pearl"
RACHEL Jacob's wife means "ewe", a symbol of purity

R

RAZ, RAIZEL means "secret"
REINA Derived from Yiddish rein meaning "clean, pure"
REFAELA means "God has healed"
RINA means "joy" in Hebrew.
RIVKA, REBECCA Isaac's wife means "to tie, bind"
RONIT means "joy" or "song" in Hebrew.
RUT, RUTH righteous convert in the Bible

S

SARAH Abraham's wife means "noble, princess"
SHALVA means "tranquility"
SHAYNA, SHEINA, SHEINE, SHAINDEL Yiddish name, means beautiful"
SHAMIRA means "guardian, protector" in Hebrew.
SHANI means "red" in Hebrew.
SHAULA feminine form of Shaul, means "the borrowed one"
SHIFRA midwife who disobeyed Pharoah's orders to kill Jewish babies
SHIRA means "poetry" or "singing" in Hebrew.
SHLOMIT means "peaceful"
SHOSHANA means "rose"
SHPRINTZA Yiddish form of ESPERANZA
SHULAMIT, SHULAMIS from "Shalom", means "peace, peaceful"
SIMA means "treasure"
SMADAR means "blossom" in Hebrew.

T

TALIA means "dew from God"
TAMAR means "palm tree" in Hebrew
TEHILA means "praise" in Hebrew.
TEMIMA means "whole, honest"
TIKVA means "hope" in Hebrew.
TIRTZA means "agreeable"
TOIBA means "dove" in Yiddish.
TOVA means "good" in Hebrew.
TZEITEL Yiddish pet form of SARAH
TZIPORA Moses's wife means "bird"
TZIONA means "excellent"
TZVIYA, TZIVIYA Feminine form of TZVI means "deer, gazelle"

V

VARDA means "rose"

Y

YAAKOVA feminine form of Jacob means "to supplant"
YAEL heroine in the Bible means "deer, mountain goat" means "to ascend"
YAFFA means "beautiful"
YARDENA feminine form of JORDAN means "to flow down, descend". Nahar Yarden is the Jordan River
YEHUDIT, YEHUDIS heroine in the Bible means "praise"
YENTA, YENTLE Yiddish name
YOCHEVED Moses' mother means "glory of God"

Z

ZAHAVA means "gold"
ZELDA Yiddish name
ZISA means "sweet" in Yiddish.
ZIVA means "splendor"
ZLOTA means "golden" in Yiddish.


 

blessing the children


One of the most moving Shabbos traditions is the blessing over the children given on Friday night:

Father (or mother) puts both hands on the child's head and says the blessing:

The Blessing for a Son:

English: May God make you like Ephraim and Menashe

Tranliteration: Ye'simcha Elohim ke-Ephraim ve'chi-Menashe

Why?

Just before he dies, Jacob blesses his two grandsons, Ephraim and Menashe. He says they should become role models for the Jewish people in the future.

On that day Jacob blessed them, he said, "In time to come, the people of Israel will use you as a blessing. They will say, 'May God make you like Ephraim and Menashe'." (Genesis 48:20)

Ephraim and Menashe did in fact become role models worthy of emulation. Unlike those before them, including Cain and Abel, Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, and Joseph and his brothers, Ephraim and Menashe were not rivals. Rather, Ephraim and Menashe were brothers united by their drive to perform good deeds.

The Blessing for a Daughter:

English: May God make you like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah

Tranliteration: Ye'simech Elohim ke-Sarah, Rivka, Ra-chel ve-Lay'ah

Why?

Each of the matriarchs has qualities that qualify them to be role models.

The matriarchs were strong and laudable women. They endured difficult home lives, hardships in marriage, infertility, abduction, envy from other woman, and difficult children. Nevertheless, these righteous women, through their individual passion, their partnerships with the patriarchs and their loyalty to God, succeed to build a nation.

After the above blessing is recited for a son or daughter, parents continue with this blessing for both boys and girls:

English:

May God bless you and watch over you.
May God shine His face toward you and show you favor. 
May God be favorably disposed toward you and grant you peace.

Transliteration:

Ye'varech'echa Adonoy ve'yish'merecho.
Ya'ir Adonoy panav eilecha viy-chuneko.
Yisa Adonoy panav eilecha, ve'yasim lecho shalom.

And don't forget to kiss your child!

 

UPCOMING EVENTS

Kidush
Saturday, August 23, 11:00 AM
by Chertok family on occasion of Chaya and Pinchas's upcoming wedding
Kidush
Saturday, August 30, 11:00 AM
by Nadel/Kenig on occasion of Yiddi Kenig's Barmitzvah
Kidush
Friday, October 17, 11:00 AM
by Julie Freydin on occasion of Julie's 18th Birthday!

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