I’ll say it: The past five-plus months have not been easy for any of us. Living through a pandemic for nearly half a year now has brought unforeseen challenges to our health, work, and families. After so much heaviness, we all need a little sweetness and light as we approach the Jewish New Year.
Welcoming a child into this uncertain world is daunting, but it’s also a sign of our incredible resilience. While you might not want to remember the pain of the Covid-19 pandemic, the hope that a new baby brings to this unsettled moment can be commemorated through an uplifting name. The languages of the Jewish diaspora offer many beautiful names with inspiring meanings. See some of our favorite Hebrew, Ladino and Yiddish-inspired uplifting names below.
1. Caleb — Caleb was one of 12 scouts sent by Moses to Israel. Caleb, or Calev, is a Hebrew name that means “faithful and devoted.” Devotion to one’s faith is a strong way to stay resilient in these trying times.
4. Gabriel — In Hebrew, Gabriel means “Strength of God.” This name also signifies the biblical figure of the angel Gabriel, who interprets a prophecy for Daniel and is later referenced as a warrior and holy protector.
5. Mendel — This is a Yiddish name that translates to “he who comforts,” which is a beautiful trait that is not conventionally fostered so much in boys, so crush the patriarchy by choosing this name for your son.
6. Noah — Naming your child Noah invokes the biblical figure who built an ark to save his family and representatives of every species during the flood. Meaning “comfort” in Hebrew, this name also honors the metaphorical boat-building we’ve done to keep our families afloat in these trying times.
7. Amado/Amada — This lovely Ladino name means “beloved,” creating an opportunity to remind your child of the love in their life every time they hear or write their name.
8. Doron — Meaning “gift” in Hebrew, Doron reminds you that life is a gift, and so is all you have to be grateful for.
9. Lior — Lior is a Hebrew name that means “my light.” After working closely at Kveller with a Lior who embodies this meaning, I can say with honesty that Liors certainly do bring light into your life!
10. Osher — In Hebrew, Osher means “happiness,” which is exactly the energy we are manifesting for the year to come.
11. Zohar — Zohar is another Hebrew name that means “light,” not to be confused with the Zohan, with whom we do not mess.
12. Abigail — Abigail means “joy of the father” in Hebrew. Though its technical translation is dad-specific, this name reminds parents of any gender of the joy their daughter brings into their lives.
13. Allegra — This joyous name means “happiness” in Ladino.
14. Bina — Bina means “wisdom,” a trait many of us have gained from the roller coaster of pandemic living.
16. Freida — Reminiscent of names from your grandma’s era, and an important character in Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, Freida means “joyful” in Yiddish.
18. Marni — The witch Marnie from Disney’s Halloweentown knew it best, Marni means “rejoice” in Hebrew.
19. Minah — Minah is a classic Yiddish name that means “peaceful.”
20. Nadia — Outside of the Jewish diasporic languages, the name Nadia means “hope” in many Slavic languages.
21. Orli — Orli is a Hebrew name meaning “you are my light.” Formed from the same Hebrew letters as Lior, Orli reminds you of the good in the world.
22. Shira — One of my personal favorite names that celebrates music and words, Shira is a Hebrew name that means “poetry” or “song.”
24. Zelda — Last but not least, gamers will love that Zelda means “happiness” in Yiddish.
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