I’d like to thank Roni Sokol over at Mommy in Law for inspiring this post!
Every single time we have sat down to choose a Hebrew name for one of our newborns, we’ve had to take multiple considerations into account:
1. Did we have a relative to name after? (If no, proceed to #2)
2. Do we pick a name related to the Torah portion? An upcoming holiday?
3. How will this name be spelled in English?
4. How will this child’s name appear on the birth certificate?
5. How will this name sound to people that are unfamiliar with Hebrew or Yiddish names?
6. How do we spell it?
For example (note: some of my kids’ names have been changed):
Child #1: Let’s pretend my daughter’s name is Esther. She is our first-born, and we decide to name her after my great-grandmother on my father’s side, who was killed in the Holocaust. There is a custom among Ashkenazic Jews that babies are named after deceased love ones, and that the first name goes to the mother’s side barring a pressing reason to name after the father’s side (like, father has no dad; mother would have to go back 3 generations).
Great-grandma had two names, common among Eastern European Jews, but her middle name coincides with my mother’s name, who is very much alive and well, thank you. Just as it an honor to name after a deceased relative, it is SPOOKY AND NOT DONE to name after an alive relative. Unless you are a Sephardic Jew, in which case it is a BIG HONOR.
So we ask her daughter, my grandmother, if she minds if we only use the one name. She’s great with it, as “Esther” is the name great-grandma was known by. Awesome. Esther is SO EASY. It’s Hebrew and English and phonetic to boot. And it’s one name. That simplifies life. “Esther” goes on the birth certificate. Daughter #1 is all set. Woohoo!
That was the easy part.
Child #2 comes along – a son. This is a no-brainer, as my father passed away when I was six, so even though name #2 “belongs” to the husband, it’s obvious we will name this child for my father. Let’s pretend my father’s Hebrew name was Shlomo – one name, but it gets complicated. For one thing, it’s customary to add a name when you name after someone who dies young, so the newborn doesn’t have exactly the same “mazel” – fortune, sort of – as the deceased. We need to add a name. The classical Hebrew names that are added in such a case are Chaim (“life”) and Baruch (“blessed”), but my husband’s grandfather, who, at the time, was alive and well, thank you very much, is Chaim Baruch! So we choose a name – Nesanel (Netanel), which means “gifted by God.” So now our son’s name is Nesanel Shlomo.
Second thing: my father was not exactly called by his Hebrew name, but was called by a Yiddish-flavored nickname of his Hebrew name – “Shloimy.” NOT PHONETIC. EASY TO MISPRONOUNCE. And definitely, er, ethnic.
So we wanna call this kid “Shloimy” since it’s what my father was called, which is a very normal name in our community, but what do we put on the birth certificate? One name? Both? The Ethnic Nickname? We opt for simply (ha) “Shlomo,” which has since been mispronounced by every doctor’s office staff member since. Ah, well.
Child #3: a girl. We have a choice of two great-grandmothers on my husband’s side. Finally, his turn. Both are Yiddish. We do some homework and find out that one was a classic Bubbie, a regular saint; and the other was a strong woman who retained her faith out in Scranton, PA. We opt for “saint.” My husband is scheduled to name the baby at the synagogue. I am in the hospital. It is Shabbat, so we are not communicating over the phone. After Shabbat he calls: “I didn’t name the baby… I just felt it wasn’t the right name!” Okaay – who am I to question my husband’s prophetic powers? I didn’t feel that strongly either way, so we go for name #2 – strong personality, Scranton, PA.
This Yiddish name, Gitty, is at first glance, phonetic and easy. Ha. Everyone rhymes it with “pretty” and “witty” when actually the “T” is emphasized. I would give an English rhyme for her name, except there is none. Also, living in Israel at the time, my husband is the one who travels to East Jerusalem to the consulate to get the birth certificate, so he chooses “Gittel,” the real Yiddish name, instead of “Gitty,” the commonly used nickname. Nice. Now daughter has one name that appears on her BC that no one can pronounce and that no one uses except her younger brother in cruel moments, another name that everyone calls her that rhymes with “pretty” and her real name that is pronounced correctly. *sigh*
Child #4 is named after someone in the parsha. We didn’t have any urgent relative to name for and are married long enough that we don’t need to take turns anymore, and name after our Patriarch Abraham. Great – easy, right?? EVERYONE knows Abraham Lincoln! Yes, except his Hebrew name is Avraham, and his nickname shall be… Avromi. So how easy is it to mispronounce “Avromi’? Answer: very. It’s pronounced “Av-RUH-mi” (Ruh as in Run). But some people, like Jews from more Chassidic backgrounds, like my grandparents, pronounce it “Av-ru-mi” – Ru as in the way a Bostonion would say “roof.” Or those that are not comfy with Hebrew or Yiddish say Ru like “rah rah rah! Sis boom bah!” Ah, well.
Oh, and we decided to be “smart” and put “Abraham” on his BC so everyone will be able to pronounce it… now he just seems like a relic from the 1800’s. Really? Your name is Abraham, and you’re… 10? Not 89? Ah, well.
Also: since we did not reach back multiple generations for a name we had some explaining to do to family members… ’nuff said.
Child #5: girl. We decide to name after my great-grandmother Mindy. She also had another name, which coincided with my husband’s grandmother’s name. (Anyone want to become a Jewish Baby Naming Coordinator? I’ll send you lots of clients.) Yes, I know my side of the family is seriously winning, but I already told you, we’re done taking turns. Also I just happen to have more dead relatives – sorry. We ask my grandfather (she was his mother) how he feels about us just using one name and he is fine with this since she was called “Bobba Mindy” and that’s how everyone knew her.
Can I just emote for a moment? I LOVE THIS NAME. It has everything I need! It’s named for someone I knew and loved, it’s easy to say, spell, and pronounce, and I can put the nickname right on the BC since we are now living in America and I don’t have to travel anywhere dangerous moments after giving birth to obtain a BC! The lovely, nice hotel – er, hospital – does all the hard work FOR YOU!! Yay! Mindy Koval. Love.
Child #6: Boy. He is born 10 days late, on his great-grandfather’s yahrtzeit. Like, exactly, on the Hebrew date. Did I say “chose a name”? I think the name chose us. This name does not fit the profile of my perfect name. It’s Hebrew and Yiddish, two names, neither of which are phonetic, nor easy to say, spell, or pronounce. Yay! Well, we go mostly with the first name and just plunk that Hebrew name right on the BC. And if no one can pronounce it… it’s their problem. Lots of cool people have weird names (Gwyneth?).
Child #7: Girl. When you get to this number of kids, my philosophy is you pick a name you just LIKE. You’ve earned it. We picked the name first (Nomi) then prayed for her to be born on the holiday that coincided with her name. And… she was! Can I just emote for a moment? I LOVE THIS NAME! For all the reasons I love Mindy, but one more added bonus: It’s not a nickname but the real name. However, even this name was not hitchless. The REAL name is “Naomi,” and is pronounced in truly grammatically correct Hebrew as “Na’ami,” and is still pronounced a variety of ways by my relatives. Nevertheless, it’s super easy to spell and read, and we love it. So far, it’s the only low-maintenance thing about the child, so that’s a good thing.
Was it hard to pick out your kids’ names? What did you have to take into account? What did you choose for their birth certificates – have you regretted it?
We had a much easier time – we chose a Hebrew name for each of our boys, which is on his Brit Milah certificate and used for Jewish purposes, and a roughly similar English name for his birth certificate, school, doctors, and other legal purposes. The Hebrew names are both after my grandfathers. Well, actually, the oldest was named after my paternal grandfather who died in the Holocaust.
My other grandfather died the year before my second child was born, and his Hebrew name was the same as my husband's maternal grandfather's. Great! BUT the "English" name we came up with was Ari – widely mispronounced anyway. Our neighbors used to pronounce it "AW-ree" so I tried to explain politely that it rhymes with "sorry" (sah-ree to us New Yorkers). They said, "We pronounce that 'sawry'". Oh.
I loved this……..this gave me a big smile since I shared with you Hannah's story.I never did give you here hebrew name
It was easy with our baby #5 because we just wanted a Hebrew name as to not have the confusion we have with some of our other children.
Our story is similar to yours. Our 1st child (a girl) should have been easy because there was only one grandmother not living at the time. She also happened to be a holocaust survivor. Only catch was that grandmother's first name was the same as my mother's name, Sarah. We decided to change Sarah to Shira (in Hebrew that only adds one letter and it's a holy one – yud). She was also born the week before Shabbos Shira! So she is Shira Gittel and that's what we put on her birth certificate. I felt strongly that they should have their full Hebrew names on there. I want them to wear their Jewish names with pride!
Child #2 was another girl and so we reached back to my husband's great grandmother, whose name was Golda. But I didn't really love it so we named her Zahava Golda (gold in Hebrew and Yiddish). Child #3 was another girl but by then, unfortunately, one of my husband's grandmothers had passed away. Her name was Basya so that's what we used. Our daughter goes by her nickname, Bassy and we get lots of "Bossy" jokes. Child #4 was a boy and we had four grandfathers to choose from. That was a tough one, but it was really "my turn" so that narrowed it down to two. We went with Chaim Zalman, my mother's father. By the time child #5 was born my husband's other grandmother had died and it was a no-brainer to use her name. Only problem was it was two Yiddish names that I didn't love. But we felt my father-in-law would not feel as comforted if we changed it so we named her Yitta Raizel, but we call her Raizy or Ray, which is kind of cute! With this one I kind of regret putting her full name on the birth certificate because she goes by her second name only. I'm actually considering changing it. Child #6 is a boy. We had 3 names still to choose from, but it was my husband's turn and he picked his paternal grandfather, Tzvi Elimelech. That was fine until we had to decide what nickname to use. I liked "Eli" but my husband liked "Tzvi". Since he felt more strongly I deferred to him and our baby is Tzvi. He's so cute though that I don't care what he's called!
Nice stories! Our kids' names have a meaning the reflects who they were named after. We did stick with Hebrew-only, incl on the birth certificates, but we did decide no "ch" names to try to make it easier here in USA. Also, no Israeli names that sound too "funky" in English as again, we live here. The one name we ended up changing the spelling of was because of a nurse in the hospital – I was writing "Shaina" on the BC, and she said, "Oh what a pretty name ShanIa" and she pronounced it "Sha-nI-ah" so we changed to a "Y" "Shayna" so it was more clear. I also think it looks prettier to write 🙂
Our rules are these:
(1) can be pronounced by people who didn't grow up with a chet or a chaf or a tsadi (sadly, this knocked out a lot of names I love)
(2) same name on the birth certificate as in day-to-day life
(3) was a name both DH and I could agree on. We didn't want to take turns.
(4) it couldn't sound silly paired with our not-strongly-Jewish-sounding last name.
Child #1 has the only name that was easy for us to pick out, but that's been offset by the fact that she got the name everyone has questions about. Her first name is a Yiddish name, but as in your Gitty example, we knew we would never call her anything but her nickname, and our rav at the time said you should not name a child a name you never intend to call them at any point in their life. So, when people ask her name, we say Raizy, and they say, "Oh, Raizel." Nope just Raizy. That's what she was named at the Torah, that's it. And she goes to a Zionistic school, making her the only kid with a Yiddish name in the school, AFAIK. (So, we've had a few discussions with her after she was informed that her name isn't a Hebrew name. But, it is her Hebrew name. Confused yet? Try figuring it out when you are five.) And, then we had to go and pair it with a modern Israeli gender-neutral middle name. Small problem: said middle name also has a feminine version, which we didn't pick. So we say, her middle name is Gil (which means joy), and they say, "Oh, Gila?" No, Gil. On the upside, if she decides to make aliyah and doesn't want the old-school Yiddish name, she's set with the middle name.
Children #2 and #3–it took us FOREVER to agree on names. With #2, we had a name picked out (yes, we find out the gender of our kids), but once she was born, the name didn't fit her. (Still a great name, but just not her.) In retrospect, I would have changed the spelling of her first name and avoided a lot of mispronunciation. Her name was picked out five hours before DH left for davening on a Thursday morning.
#3, DH made the final decision on the name as he drove to the bris, maybe one mile from the shul. So I found out the name the same time as everyone at the bris. (Shout out to Rabbi Koval for the awesome brissing and bris follow-up.) He has a straight-up Biblical first name, and I am constantly surprised by how few people recognize the name. His middle name is also a Biblical name, but very common, so maybe he'll opt to go by that. Or by his initials. Or by first initial, middle name.
That being said, I love all of my kids' names, and I think they are perfect for them.
Loved this post! With our first, we had a name picked out, and then when he was born, I took one look at him and realized that name wasn't gonna work. And I'm not exactly the intuitive premonition type, but I felt very strongly about it. So we named him something else. It's a great Hebrew name, but often mispronounced in Doctor's offices and the like.
With baby #2, we picked the name, it fit him, and I still love it. He has two names, we usually call him by both, but since his first name is an English name as well, we used the English spelling (David instead of Dovid) and it makes the "outside world" interactions smoother. Win win.
I found your blog because Rivki tweeted it, and I am so glad she did. Baby names can be so stressful.
I have 4 daughters.
The oldest is Sara, named after her great-aunt on my side and her great-grandmother on her father's side. Both families supremely happy and each one thinks it's the "other side's" turn next.
Daughter #2 is Nomi. We named her after the Biblical character. My father-in-law said, "Thank you for naming her after my Aunt Norma." My (now ex-) husband's response? "I didn't know you had an Aunt Norma.
Daughter #3 is Tehila. She was named after the character in Shai Agnon's book. She has never forgiven me for that. She is also not religious anymore, and whenever someone secular hears her name they say, "oh, I bet you used to be religious." She's unhappy with the name, but she has yet to change it. I think she never will.
When I was pregnant with #4 my father asked that if it was a girl to name her after his sister Bluma who died in the camps. We had already named #1 after his sister Sara. Bluma? Um… So we both tried flower names. I wanted Ya'ara. Her father wanted Vered. Neither of us was happy with the other's choice. We ended up calling her Adiya (God's treasure). My father loved it.
Still want to open up that baby naming agency? I have grandchildren in my future, we could use your services, big time!
I find choosing baby names harder than the actual childbirth. I just hate having to do it!
We have rules:
– Jewish names, preferably something that wouldn't scream "old person name!" in Israel, and something with a good nickname.
– No letter "r" because my husband can't do the guttural r thing in Hebrew, and no "Ch" because we don't live in Israel… yet.
Our daughter's name is an Israeli name paired with an easily translated middle name. We allowed ourselves to be swayed by my mother-in-law who cautioned us about choosing something too ethnic, so the name on her birth certificate is the Israeli first name followed by the English version of her middle name. In retrospect, I should have just gone with the Hebrew middle name. It's much prettier.
Our son was going to be named after my grandpa, and he is, but at the last minute I started to cry and pointed out that that "Joshua Wolf" just wasn't his name. It needed something else… so we added that something. His birth certificate has the English version of his first name, but nobody calls him that except for at the doctor's office. Oh, well.
Baby number three is due very soon. I have no idea about names. Denial, anyone?
(sorry for essentially writing a post. and I love your blog.)
I loved this post! Reading the name process for your children was moving, and entertaining!
I am a (aspiring) baal-teshuva. I was given my two Jewish names at my bris, a composite of a Yiddish and Hebrew name, named after ancestors… and a "secular" name on my birth certificate that I grew up with, which actually isn't so secular, but the first very name in the Torah: Adam!
I'm not alone.
For example, I know someone who's Jewish name is Gidon, but his "secular" name is David (!), which isn't all that secular. Or take my best friend's wife whose Jewish name is Tzirel, a nice Yiddish name, but her "secular" name is Sarah, again, not exactly so secular. Both of them, like me, are baalei-teshuva.
My friendly advice to well-meaning parents: Please don't do this. Whatever Hebrew/Yiddish name you select for your child, please don't pick a totally unrelated "Biblical" albeit Anglicized name for his "secular" name… but rather choose instead a secular non-Biblical name that perhaps has some overlap to the Jewish name. (For example Mordechai = Mark)
Hope this posting made sense!
SavtaV…never would've imagined one could misspelled Ari…
Hayley…so let's hear,what is it?
Aemom, welcome to OOTOB! I agree, that does simplify life!
Ranya, love Ray, it's so cute. And so true what you said that the kids make their names cute cuz they're so cute!
Leah, lots of people I know try not to do "Ch" names. Come to think of it, none of our kids do though our names sure make up for that. And I always thought shayna was a Yiddish name.
Amy I was laughing out loud at your comments! Thanks for sharing! My fave is how u call your husband Mr. Smith – now that wins.
Rivki, I actually did notice the spelling of David,
fellow grammar geek 🙂 and thank you for tweeting my post!
Miriyummy, welcome to OOTOB! I love all four names. They are each so beautiful!
SCJ welcome as well! I think denial is a beautiful name (kidding). Bshaah tova to you! I think everyone has name regret to some degree…thanks for your kind words.
And yossel… yea that totally made sense! I always wondered why people do that? For that matter why are Americans so fixated on middle names in the first place? I don't have one and it's kinda like a kidney ..
Savtav I meant mispronounce Ari!
I loved this post (ok I love all your posts – I check daily for something new to read!). My Hebrew name is Chaya Leah – story behind it is we are micro-premmies (twin bro and I born at 26 wks on the 8th night of Chanukah, our parents call us the miracle babies). So although we are named after relatives (uncle Louie or Lazear became Leah and Lauren in English as my middle names and Great-Zaidy Hillel became Hilary/Chaya) which had the meaning life, because quite literately I lived and my brother has similarly strong names. In Hebrew I use Chaya and rarely Leah.
I like how you and your husband switch up. What's the source for the 1st child being named after the wife's side? Thanks!
I'm happy with a second middle name… I just don't like how my Jewish name not only has no connection with the secular "birth certificate" name I was raised with, but even more confusing, my secular name is straight out of the Torah. Basically, I recommend the secular name to bear a resemblance to the Jewish name… and not actually sound like a Jewish name itself!
Ideally, it'd be nice if we only had a Jewish name and only went by a Jewish name. For many people who didn't grow up frum, our secular names can be difficult to let go of. What is more personal than one's name? To embrace being called by one's Jewish name can be initially challenging, but ultimately very rewarding.
As a non-Jew, married to a man who is so unobservant he doesn't remember his Hebrew name, I'm confused about the concept of Hebrew names vs. English names. Why do children need a separate name on their birth certificate than what they are called? Why not just choose one name that goes on both the birth certificate but is a Hebrew name and what they are called? Also, do most everyone have nicknames?
As a Catholic, I understand the idea of having a religious name given at time of full entrance into religious world…I have my confirmation name, but it is a symbolic name, not ever used. Is a Hebrew name similar to that concept or a completely different idea?
I only ask out of genuine curiosity–but Orthodox Jewish naming traditions are something I've always wondered about.
In terms of naming our daughter, we picked her first initial for my husband (who was after his deceased grandfather), my name for her middle name and both of our last names in the Latin style (no hyphen). We also want our children's first names to be characters in children's literature, so that influences our choices as well. But clearly, we are not following any real ethnic or familial traditions.
Aww thanks Hilary! Love that! Don't know the source… maybe because the woman just carried the babes for nine long months and then went through labor… she deserves the first name? (Just guessing?) Or maybe because we're more emotional and sentimental about these things?
Yossel, I too changed to a brand new nickname as an adult, and it is very difficult to re-brand yourself. But it's true that one of the reasons the Jews merited Exodus from Egypt was that despite mass assimilation, they continued to be identified by their Jewish names.
Elisabeth, welcome to OOTOB! Children do NOT need a separate name and it usually just serves to confuse everyone. Thing is, if you have an ethnic sounding name (like me) it may be helpful to have an easily recognizable name (to the rest of the world) on your BC.
I do like, as referenced above, when my kids' Jewish names were also phonetic and I could therefore make them their legal names as well. Not that I couldn't otherwise, just didn't want to doom them to a life of an unpronouncable name.
Interesting thing you mentioned about the Catholic name not being in use… In Judaism, if someone never ever uses their Hebrew name, it's almost as if it's not their name. When a person receives a Hebrew name or changes it as an adult, they need to be called by it on a regular basis in order for it to "take."
Thanks for your input.
we got around a lot of the indecision by simply giving each one 2 or 3 names. [Only the first went on the BC, which only serves to confuse both the teacher and the child every 1st day of school.) No, we don't use all of the them – "only" two (unless I'm stressing out – then it's "whatever-your-name-is".)
years later in retrospect, when I think about how we went about choosing names, none of it seems to make any logical sense anymore. OTOH, each child definitely lives up to their name's inborn characteristics. So I think it's more a matter of prophetic vision that we enclothe in "reasons" and "customs".
Ruchi, what an interesting discussion! We don't use our kids' Hebrew names very often, but they still own them in a very deep way – that's how they are called to the Torah. I changed my Hebrew name as an adult (the one my parents' rabbi suggested made no sense to anyone) and now I use it both for aliyot to the Torah and when speaking Hebrew.
two or three names – wow. I can't imagine keeping track!
Not that I don't call my kids by each others' names all the time as it is!
as if you don't remember your own siblings birthdays and names? but, yeah – I think we all go through a list of the wrong names by mistake, at times. (or "sweetie", or "what's your name?" – answered by "you should know – you were the ones who named me!")
and yes – we do have quite a few names floating about here. 🙂
My husband and I agreed when we were thinking of names for babies that the first child would be named first name for my side, middle name for his. And vice versa for the next.
then we found out we were having twins.
Twin A is named for my grandfather who passed in 1999 and my great-bubby, who passed in 1992.
Twin B is named for both his bubbies, who passed in 1998 and 1999 respectively.
Both kids fit their names (with the smallest child, Twin B, having the longer name).
Note: Gittel is my Yiddish name!!
Always fascinating to read about people's names. We also have 7 children, ka"h, and they each have 3 names. (My husband always wanted 3 names, we waited a long time for our first baby and never thought we would be blessed with this many, and once we had started, we thought they should all have the same number!) We only use the first name for nos 1 and 2, but the rest are officially called by their first 2 names, and at home by a nickname. Apart from #1, they all only have the first name, in Hebrew form eg Dovid not David, Rochel not Rachel, on their birth certificates. Some are named after relatives, pretty evenly divided between both of us, everyone has at least one standard Biblical name and 2 out of out 21 names are Yiddish rather than Hebrew. We've always had boy and girl names lined up and then waited to make sure they fitted the baby before deciding. Best fun when we were expecting twins and so had to find 12 names in total! In the end, we had one of each, boy ended up with name we had decided and girl has what we had thought would be second choice, but at the time preferred.
Jumped here from today's article. Somehow I missed it when you first wrote it.
Both of my kids have interesting/funny stories behind their names. When we were choosing names, we wanted to use the same (or very, very similar) names in Hebrew and English. For my son, he is named after my maternal grandfather Avrom (in Europe)/Abram (in America), my paternal step-grandfather Murray/Moshe, and his mother's grandfather and great-grandfather (Abie/Avraham and another Murray/Moshe). In English, we opted for just Avi Moshe while in Hebrew he's Avraham Moshe. And, in one fell swoop we had named for everyone in our families who had yet to be named for. Almost. The only not-yet-named-for relative was my father's great-uncle Alex. *I* myself wasn't named for him because my parents weren't allowed because Uncle Alex was never married. My parents told me they didn't have an issue with reusing the name — and that his name was actually Eliyahu. And, my #2 ended up being a girl. We really liked the name Alexandra — completely unrelated to the fact that I had a great-great Uncle Alex. Boom, #2 became Alexandra. In English. And Hebrew. And, I love laughing at people (sorry, I know, horrible person here) who all holier-than-thou scowl at me, "Since when is Alexandra a Jewish name?" when I can easily reply, "Oh, since about 2000 years ago!!"
Late to this thread….I loved this –
"And, my #2 ended up being a girl. We really liked the name Alexandra — completely unrelated to the fact that I had a great-great Uncle Alex. Boom, #2 became Alexandra. In English. And Hebrew. And, I love laughing at people (sorry, I know, horrible person here) who all holier-than-thou scowl at me, "Since when is Alexandra a Jewish name?" when I can easily reply, "Oh, since about 2000 years ago!!"
– although I was born Jewish, I didn't become observant till coming up on four years ago….Im now 60. I didn't have a Jewish/Hebrew name, and my name history is long and confusing(four on my birth certificate, plus my married name( Im widowed just over a year)but suffice to say that a few years before my Jewish journey began, I decided to choose my own first name, and that choice was Alex( again, lots of reasons)
Anyway, when after around five or six months, I decided I wanted a Jewish name, I chose it myself: Miriam Alexandra. The Miriam comes from one of my birth certificate names – Mary, my Jewish grandmothers sister – and Alexandra, from my own choice of Alex. And I too thought, well, Alexandra, not really a Jewish name…..but it is, as I found out from a friend who was guiding me.
And her Rabbi included a blessing/naming ceremony for me, and I got a certificate with my name on it…..all of which was a wonderful feeling. I was so thankful to my friend, and her Rabbi.
So, thank you for what you said
Miriam Alexandra( everyday Alex) on the east coast of Scotland
I picked my daughter's name long before I picked my husband. My mother's name was Elaine (middle name Ann) and the name I fell in love with was Eliana. I had never heard it before, loved that it sounded so much like my mother's name, and it met my one criteria that there be a direct Hebrew translation of the name (Direct means either the name remains the same because it IS Hebrew or it sounds nearly the same, like Abraham-Avraham or Deborah-Devorah and NOT like Zachary-Oded or Brian-Shlomo. Pet peeve. No offense. We actually violated this in my son's middle name.) Also the meaning was fitting, and I liked the nickname Eli. Perfect!
But we had a son. I didn't have a boy's name I loved and I couldn't name him Eliana (well, I could have, but that would be indefensible, IMO). My husband had many helpful suggestions like, "Orange Jello" pronounced "Oh-ron-gelo" like Michelangelo, and other goodies that would have scarred the kid for life. I was afraid I wouldn't get a chance to name another child after my mother (when you are as old as Sarah, who knows?). So I gave him the middle name Eric, after my mother. Then we violated our rule by giving him the Hebrew name Hillel, after my grandfather. We gave him the first name Gabriel, because we liked the name, it met my English-Hebrew translation rule, and we liked the meaning.
Then our daughter was born. Unfortunately, after not hearing the name Eliana for decades, I had moved to a place where it was a fairly common name. I was disappointed but undeterred. We chose Eliana's middle name after my maternal grandmother, Rebecca in English, and Rivka in Hebrew (no rule violations).
I did monopolize the names, but in all fairness, they were three people who had no other family who could potentially name their children after them. Other deceased family members had been named already. Good thing I had no more kids as I am tapped out of ideas.
WAY late to the game on this one, but the headline caught my eye because I named my first kid Yerachmiel Meir, no English name. My grandfather, who I'd always thought of as Sam, died before I could tell him we were expecting, and it turned out Yerachmiel was his Hebrew name. No-brainer… well, until he turned 18 and decided to be called Jeremy. 🙂
Dd1 was the "just because I like the name" name. I adored her name, still do: Elisheva.
I do love the name Naomi. Dd2, kid #3 is also a Naomi… Naomi Rivka, because both of my grandmothers were Rivkas and one was still living when Dd1 was born.
I think it's SO important that our kids know why they have the names that they do… even if they choose not to be called by them all the time. It's said that choosing names is a form of nevuah that parents are granted. May all our kids grow into the lofty names we choose for them.