Fellow baby name fanatics: We have an assignment, and we can’t waste any time. Kveller’s editor, Deborah Kolben, is due in early November, and she wants our help. This baby girl will not go without the perfect name. Not on my watch.
Friends and family know that I’m something of a baby name enthusiast, to put it mildly. At one point I seriously considered changing our third child’s name when she was already 2 years old. Things got so out of hand that my husband demanded full naming rights to baby #4. Then, unlike with our other children, we adhered to the Jewish custom of waiting until the bris to announce our baby’s name. It was all very exciting and a great source of traffic to my blog.
Now that I’m out of babies to name, I have to focus on other people’s children. Enter Deborah and her call for help. I know I’m not the only Kveller reader with ideas for Deborah and her husband Gal. Before everyone chimes in with favorite names, however, we must discuss how most Jews name babies these days.
The naming of American Jews babies seem to fall into six naming trends.
1. Biblical names in Hebrew or Yiddish
You’ll find these “We’re Jewish and we’re proud” names common in more religious circles. When religious Jews (Ashkenazic ones) name after departed relatives, they use that relative’s actual name. In observant Jewish communities, therefore, you won’t find new parents claiming that baby Maddox was named in honor his maternal grandfather Moshe.
2. Trendy biblical names
I’d call this category, “We’re Jewish and extremely proud, but not to the extent of ‘Yiddish-proud.'” It’s a fine line, but it’s there. The exception in this category is Shayna, which is Yiddish, but has crossover appeal.
3. Israeli/modern Hebrew names
“We’re Jewish, we’re proud, and fairly hip.” It’s not uncommon in American Jewish households to find parents named Jennifer and Jason begetting children such as Talia and Eitan. Parents in this category might be religious or completely secular. Either way they’re proud of their Jewish heritage and aren’t afraid for the world to know it.
4. Americanized versions of biblical names
“We’re Jewish, we’re cool with it, but blending in is kosher, too.” Most of my kids’ names fall into this category. We have a Sam, Rebecca, and Nathan. The baby name I considered changing falls into the next category.
5. Popular in the Jewish community, but not Jewish, per se
Think: Max, Charlie, Sophie, Maya.
Our third child is Elissa. Her Hebrew name is Elisheva, and I reasoned (while in the hospital room) that Elissa sounded Jewish, especially with that spelling. Guess what? Nobody spells it correctly and everyone calls her Lissy (blech). Although I no longer fantasize about changing Elissa’s name, I do feel it stands out from the other three kids in our crew. My name, Nina, falls into this category as well. Nina is not a Jewish name, but every Nina I know is Jewish.
6. Names without an iota of Jewishness
Think: Brayden, Grayson, Peyton, Mackenzie.
If your last name is Goldberg or Schwartz, I’d reconsider this category. (My two cents.)
So let’s review our assignment from Deborah and her good-sport-of-a-husband, Gal. Gal’s parents are Israeli, which is partially how they chose the name Mika for their first daughter. (Pronounced MEE-ka). Logically and aesthetically (to my ear and my sense of rightness in the universe) Deborah and Gal should give their baby girl a name from category #2 or #3 above. Deborah also mentioned to me that she likes gender neutral names but Noa is out of the running.
Keeping the names Deborah, Gal, Mika, and the last name Beckerman in mind, my suggestions are as follows;
-Aliza, Amit, Aviva, Avital (“Avi” for short if Deborah wants a gender neutral twist.)
-Dalia, Daniella (Dani)
-Elana (Ellie or Lani), Eliana, Eliya (Pronounced ellie-YA)
-Jordana (Think of all the monogrammed hand-me-downs from Jordana Horn!)
-Liat, Libby, Liora
-Maytal, Naomi, Orli
-Rayna, Romi, Ronit (Call her Roni)
Kveller readers: What other suggestions do you have for Deborah and Gal? Or which ones from my list do you think would work best?