Every spring, the Social Security Administration releases its annual list of the most popular baby names in the United States. As far as Jewish baby names, there was nothing too exciting to report in 2023: Noah was the second most popular boy name (again); Naomi, Hannah and Eliana were all in the top 50; Leonard dropped from 649th most popular to 713th; my name (Esther) once again failed to crack the top 100.
Meanwhile, over on Kveller’s Instagram, we’ve been playing a game called “Name This Baby,” a popular weekly post where we publish an anonymous request from an expecting reader looking for help to name their Jewish baby, and our followers comment with their thoughtful suggestions.
After combing through the Social Security data, reflecting on the requests we’ve received to Name This Baby, and checking in on the site traffic to the names in Kveller’s Jewish baby name bank, we’ve identified a few trends on the rise this year:
- Jewish baby girl names that end with the “ah” sound
- Hebrew names that sound good in English, too
- Jewish names with a cute nickname
With that in mind, here are 11 Jewish baby names that we think you can expect to see at Jewish day camps in about five years or so:
Amalia: This beautiful Hebrew name means “work of God.” Its similarity to the more popular name “Amelia” makes it a great choice if you’re looking for a Jewish name that is easy for English speakers to pronounce: It feels familiar, but is unique enough that she probably won’t have to use the first initial of her last name in school. (In 2022, it was ranked just outside of the top 500, but in the past 10 years it has risen from close to 1000th!)
Avi: Traditionally a boy’s name but increasingly used for both genders, Avi is short, sweet and easy to pronounce. It stands on its own or can be short for Avraham, Avital, Aviel or at least a dozen other names that start with “Av.” In Hebrew, it can mean “my father” or “father of,” and according to the Social Security Administration, it’s the 700th most popular baby name for boys and has been steadily increasing since 2011 when it first appeared in the top 1000.
Barbara: OK, don’t quote me on this because I personally haven’t met a single baby named Barbara. But! This name that peaked in popularity between 1937-1945 has a few things going for it: First of all, a lot of people visited this name in Kveller’s baby name bank. (Is everyone secretly interested in naming their baby Barbara?) Secondly, of course, there’s the “Barbie” movie that may be piquing interest in this name frequently given to Jewish girls in the mid 1900s. And the name does end in an “ah” sound. Stay tuned.
Eitan: This boy’s name is the Hebrew version of Ethan and means “strong” or “enduring.” It’s familiar to English speakers, has gotten a lot of interest in our baby name bank, and is unique — it has never been in the top 1000.
Elisheva: If you want cute nicknames, Elisheva — the Hebrew origin of Elizabeth, meaning “God is my oath” — has them in spades. Ellie! Ella! And our personal favorite, Shevy.
Elijah: Cute nickname potential, familiar to English speakers and the opportunity to do a funny bit at the seder? We see no downsides. Elijah has a similar vibe to the uber-popular Noah — classic, biblical — and became one of 2022’s most high profile Jewish celebrity baby names when Karlie Kloss named her second son Elijah.
Ezra: As the 25th most popular name for boys in 2022, Ezra — a biblical name which means “help” in Hebrew — is the most popular it’s ever been. It’s also steadily increasing in popularity as a girl’s name, appearing in the top 1000 names for the first time in 2018 and sitting in the top 700 in 2022.
Hava: Another girl’s name that ends in “a” and is frequently viewed in the Kveller baby name bank, Hava (which can also be spelled Chava) is the Hebrew name for “Eve”.
Kira: A popular girl’s name in the Jewish baby name bank (and sitting at around 400th most popular in the U.S.), Kira is a diminutive for the Hebrew name Yakira, which means “dear” or “beloved” in Hebrew.
Levia: Olivia, the most popular girl’s baby name in the U.S., is Latin and refers to the olive tree. Levia (alternatively spelled Livya or Livia), a very similar Hebrew name, means “lioness.”
Shai: This gender neutral Hebrew name is short, sweet and easy for English speakers to pronounce (just tell them to pronounce it like “shy”). It means “gift” and is the name of Jewish actor Josh Peck’s baby boy.