Congratulations! You’re having a baby! Or maybe you’ve had one. Either way, it’s amazing. One of the myriad of the many hard things we parents have to do is find the perfect (OK, “perfect” is relative) name for our little one. It’s not an easy feat.
No matter your level of religious practice, being Jewish is a legacy we want to pass on to our children — and what better way to do that than with a beautiful name with Jewish meaning?
There are so many options to choose among, it’s hard to pick just one, or two … or four, if you’re giving your kids “everyday” names, plus ceremonial Hebrew names as well. (More on that, below!)
Luckily, Kveller is here to help! We’ve got the lowdown on Jewish naming traditions. We also have lists full of names: Classic Jewish names that will give you a warm, nostalgic feeling, and fresh, modern Hebrew names that will delight and surprise you!
And maybe among all these names, you will find one that’s just right for your family’s newest addition.
Just how do I choose a name for my kid?
Fortunately, you have lots and lots of options! Keep reading for loads of ways to pick them.
You can choose a name based on tradition:
If your family is Ashkenazi, the tradition is to name your child after someone who has passed away. If you are Sephardic, the tradition is to name a child after a living relative or a deceased one. In both Ashkenazi and Sephardic traditions, parents will sometimes chose a name from the Torah portion that corresponds with the baby’s birth. If you want to learn more we have the low-down on Jewish naming practices and Jewish baby naming rules.
But of course, if you don’t have anyone to name your child after, or if none of these names feel right for you, there are many other ways to choose a baby name.
You can choose a name based on the season:
Winter, spring, summer, or fall, all you have to do is call, and we’ll be there — to help you find the perfect Hebrew name for every season:
You can choose it based on a Jewish holiday that’s close to your baby’s birthday:
Is your baby’s due date around a Jewish holiday? Here are some truly stunning names you can find, inspired by the different Jewish holidays:
- Names inspired by Rosh Hashanah
- Names inspired by Hanukkah
- Names inspired by Tu Beshvat
- Names inspired by Purim
- Names inspired by Passover
You can choose a name inspired by amazing Jewish women:
If you’re about to have a baby girl, start her off on the right foot by naming her after one of these inspiring trailblazing Jewish women.
You can choose a name that sounds good in Hebrew and in English:
If you are thinking of ever making a move to the Holy Land, or if you have family in Israel and the U.S., how about one of these great names that sound good in both languages?
You can choose a name inspired by pop culture:
Choosing a name based on your favorite musician or TV show may seem self-indulgent, but for a lot of us, a favorite TV show or movie can leave a lasting mark.
Luckily, many beautiful names can be found in popular culture: like these lovely names inspired by our favorite Jewish show, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and these truly epic Jewish names inspired by Game of Thrones.
If you’re a fan of the British royal family, how about one of these regal Jewish names inspired by the royal baby? You might fall in love with one of these 5 Jewish names that you kid can share with amazing Jewish celebrities. Or maybe try a name from a popular Jewish movie!
You can choose a short name:
A Hebrew name doesn’t need to be long to pack a whole lot of meaning — short Hebrew names are refreshing, easy to remember, and beautiful. Check out this list of 44 names that are just one syllable.
You can choose a unisex name:
Unisex names are becoming more and more popular, as more and more people want to raise their kids in a less gendered way. As a bonus, unisex names are really lovely and there are plenty of beautiful Hebrew unisex names; how about one of these are 7 Jewish boy names that also work for girls or 8 Hebrew names that are gender neutral.
You can choose a classic and nostalgic name:
Jewish names remind us our history — both personal and as a people. With that in mind, we have a bunch of great lists for you — we’ve got old, biblical names, Jewish names from history, and Jewish grandparent names that are due for a comeback. We also have a handful of lists of names that were popular in past decades:
- The most popular names of 1917
- The most popular names of the 1920s
- The most popular of the 1930s
- The most popular names from 50 years ago
- The most popular names of 1970s
- The most popular names of the 1980s
- The most popular names of the 1990s
You can choose a name based on popularity:
Let’s face it, popular names are usually popular for a reason. They’re also typically easy to pronounce, and they will never give your kids any strife. These are the list of names that have topped the popularity charts in recent years:
- Best of 2017
- Best of 2018
- Best of 2019
- Best of 2020
- Best of 2021
- The most popular names in Israel
- The most popular baby names around the world
You can choose a name that is unusual and rare:
You can choose a name that gives you a good feeling:
If you’re all about that je ne sais quoi quality in a name that gives you a good, serene feeling, why don’t you try one of the names from these lists:
- Baby names inspired by gemstones
- Baby names that are peaceful and comforting
- Baby names inspired by music
You can search through our comprehensive list of Jewish names until you find the perfect one:
Some of us just want to make sure we’ve looked at ALL our options before we decide on a right one. Luckily, we have a whole baby names database just here at your fingers! So, if you still haven’t found a name that calls out to you, or if you just want to be sure that you didn’t miss the perfect one, get ready to browse away!
Are there any names I should stay away from?
It’s your baby — do what feels right to you! Many Ashkenazi families will not name their children after living relatives, so that is something to consider.
You might want to steer away from names that sound really good in Hebrew but terrible in English, and, conversely, names sound great in English but terrible in Israel.
When should I announce my baby’s name?
Again, it’s your baby, so it’s truly up to you! Some people chose to announce it as they announce the birth of their baby. Others will announce them at a bris or a baby naming ceremony. And if you need to plan one of those, consider checking out our bris guide and our baby naming ceremony guide!
What’s the deal with Hebrew names?
For many Jewish parents, selecting a first and middle name isn’t enough — many of us also have to think of that perfect Hebrew name to accompany the one(s) they’ll use day to day.
What makes a name a Hebrew name?
A Hebrew name is the name that is used in all Jewish lifecycle events, so it should be something that has Jewish flair. Many chose a biblical name for their kid’s Hebrew name, but it doesn’t have to be one. Hebrew names are an excellent choice, but Yiddish or Ladino names are also totally appropriate.
When should I give my child their Hebrew name?
A child’s Hebrew name is usually announced at their first Jewish lifecycle event. That could be a bris or a baby naming ceremony.
Do I have to have a Hebrew name for my child?
If you want your child to participate in Jewish community life, and in Jewish lifecycle events, having a Hebrew name is important — but it is not essential. Also, some people choose to have their child’s legal name be their Hebrew name (especially true if your kid’s “regular” name is also a Hebrew one!).
How do I choose a Hebrew name?
There’s no one perfect way to find a Hebrew name, but we can assure you of one thing: It can be done! Many people choose their child’s Hebrew name based on their English name — possibly a name that starts with the same letter and has a similar sound. Luckily, our baby name bank is organized alphabetically, and it’s the perfect place to start.
But, again, it’s your baby — if you want to give your child a Hebrew name that’s different than their English name, you can use the same resources that are detailed above!