Being Jewish in 2018 often means toggling between a live-in-the-moment secular culture and a set of ancient rituals and traditions. It’s never easy (Friday night — drinks with friends or Shabbat dinner?) but there’s one aspect we don’t talk about enough: baby names! When so many of your friends’ kids get to be Venus or Kylo, traditional Jewish names can feel limiting.
Don’t worry, though. For generations, American Jews have handled this by giving their kids a Hebrew name for religious ritual, and a secular, American name for everyday life. But there’s also another approach: Take a popular name and find less common, therefore cooler, Jewish version.
Below are 10 of the trendiest names around, with our suggestions for Jewish variations.
This name literally means “one who plays the harp” — but most parents are using it to honor author Harper Lee or just because it’s a fun name. But Harper can swapped or paired with Navilai, the Hebrew word for harpist, or with Ophir, a similar-sounding name which means “gold.” (Bonus: King David played the harp — maybe that counts, too?)
Meaning “moon” or “moon goddess,” Luna has come back as an uber-popular name for baby girls. Make it Hebrew by shifting to Lina, which means “dwelling,” or Lila, “night” (which obvs fits in with the whole “moon” theme).
This trendy name is actually not in reference to Harley-Davidson; it’s an Old English name that means “hare’s meadow.” Make it Jewish with Harel, which means “mountain of God,” or keep it short and sweet with Li, “to me.”
Milo is one of those names that means five different things, but the most common translation is “calm” or “merciful.” Use Shalev for a literal translation, or Mika (“who is like God”) for a similar sound.
6. Bryn or Brynn
Unisex names are way in right now, and Bryn (can be spelled any way you like!) is a refreshing alternative to some older classics. For girls, the Yiddish name Brina (“brunette”) or the Hebrew Bina (“wisdom”) are great options, and for boys, the Yiddish Baer (“bear”) sounds similar.
Another newly unisex name, thanks to our favorite Shabbat-celebrating actress, Mila Kunis, who named her daughter Wyatt (which means “guide”). For a similar sound, try Tamir, “tall,” or Itai, “friendly.”
Etymologically speaking, Jayden doesn’t really mean anything. Luckily, it’s very similar to the Hebrew Jadon,so you can be trendy AND have a kid whose name means “God has heard/judged.”
This popular name is a version of Matthew — which is also a popular name that’s been around since the time of the Maccabees (or longer). If you’re looking to switch it up a bit, think about using Mattanyah or Matityah, both which mean “God’s gift.”