All posts by Philip

Another look at Jewish given names in the Ultra-Orthodox community

Over the past few years I’ve collected many lists of Jewish given names. Lists come from books from the 19th and early 20th century, including from Poland in 1886 and 1928, from the US in 1925 and 1939, and the more recent lists of Israeli names. For a full look at the name lists I’ve published, see the Names page.

Recently I published a list of articles on names from an Ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) group in Israel. This is an area I’ve long wanted to analyze, but haven’t had enough data. There are many reasons this group is interesting, but one is that they continue to use names that have fallen out of favor with the rest of the Jewish community, in particular Yiddish names (although Yiddish names were not preferred by the previously mentioned Israeli group). While I myself am Orthodox, I wouldn’t consider myself an expert on the lives of the Ultra-Orthodox community, which in the US is centered in New York, particularly in sections of Brooklyn. One of the problems I had was finding a source of names that was accurate, and available to me online, when this community tends to avoid using the Internet. Another problem I had was the desire to have the names in both English and Hebrew. While one could find ways of collecting names from newspapers, they would usually be in only one language. Having the names in both languages is helpful for identifying unusual names, and also lets one see the variations of how a name in Hebrew is used in English (more on that in a bit).

Continue reading Another look at Jewish given names in the Ultra-Orthodox community

An Ultra-Orthdox view of Jewish Names

I’ve collected many lists of Jewish names over the years, which you can see on my Names page, but my latest find is a bit different from the books of names from which I’ve published lists. This list is actually a list of names published by an Ultra-Orthodox organization in Israel a little over a decade ago. There are close to a thousand articles (some a sentence or two, some pages long) that provide a unique perspective on Jewish names. In general these articles were written in response to people asking about the names, either because they themselves had the name, or because they were interested in bestowing the name on a child. The question being answered is if, from the ultra-Orthodox perspective, these names are appropriate.

For example, they reject almost all names that are not Hebrew in origin. Some names from Aramaic are accepted, but even Yiddish names are not. It’s not clear to me if that is because it’s an Israeli organization, or because the organization was connected to Rav Shmuel Eliyahu, who is the Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Tzfat (and the son of former Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel Mordechai Eliyahu). Other names panned in the articles are those of biblical figures that were considered bad, such as Aviram, who rebelled against Moses, or Omri who was a king that was described in Kings as doing more evil than all preceding kings.

The organization was called Moriah. The web site itself shut down some time in 2009. I collected this list, and the links to the articles, on archived pages from the Internet Archive. You can go to the name list on the site, but it’s quite difficult to navigate, since the sequential pages were captured by the Internet Archive on different dates, so going from one page to the next might either skip a bunch of names, or show names that overlap with the previous page.

List of names on the Moriah web site
Continue reading An Ultra-Orthdox view of Jewish Names

101 Most Popular Jewish Girls Names in Israel in 2020

The Israel Central Bureau of Statistics released the baby name data for 2020 last month. As I’ve done for 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017-2018, and 2019, I’m posting the top 101 Jewish girls names. These are the most popular names given to Jewish girls born in Israel during 2020. Below you can see the number of girls that were named each name, and the ranking for 2020, as well as 2019 and 2018 for comparison. For numbers and rankings from earlier years, see the annual posts linked to above. For the parallel boy’s list, see 101 Most Popular Jewish Boys Names in Israel in 2020.

Six girls names entered the top 101 list in 2020 – Reef (entered at 78), Emanuelle (103 to 82), Niv (108 to 94), Eli (112 to 95), and Shoham (109 to 96). The girls names that exited the list were Feiga (101 to 106), Hili (100 to 107), Gili (97 to 111), Carmel (87 to 117), Darya (99 to 119), and Annael (90 to 127).

All the columns in the table below can be used to sort the table, so you can sort the table to see the order of ranking for each year, or by the spelling of the name in Hebrew or English. You can also search the table using the search field on the top right of the table.

Continue reading 101 Most Popular Jewish Girls Names in Israel in 2020

101 Most Popular Jewish Boys Names in Israel in 2020

The Israel Central Bureau of Statistics released the baby name data for 2020 last month. As I’ve done for 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017-2018, and 2019, I’m posting the top 101 Jewish boys names. These are the most popular names given to Jewish boys born in Israel during 2020. Below you can see the number of boys that were named each name, and the ranking for 2020, as well as 2019 and 2018 for comparison. For numbers and rankings from earlier years, see the annual posts linked to above. For the parallel girl’s list, see 101 Most Popular Jewish Girls Names in Israel in 2020.

Three boys names entered the top 101 names in 2020 – Gefen (126 to 93), Yehoshua (107 to 95), and Emanuel (103 to 101). The boys names that exited the list were Matan (93 to 105), Yaheli (87 to 108), and Asaf (86 to 125).

All the columns in the table below can be used to sort the table, so you can sort the table to see the order of ranking for each year, or by the spelling of the name in Hebrew or English. You can also search the table using the search field on the top right of the table.

Continue reading 101 Most Popular Jewish Boys Names in Israel in 2020

Seven women, and a detour to Morocco

This is the story of seven women, all relatives of mine, who survived the German invasion of Belgium together through a crazy trip starting in Antwerp, passing through France, Morocco, Portugal, and ending in New York. I’ve written in the past about my grandfather (When my grandfather traveled to Nazi Germany to save his family) and his time before making it the US during WWII. I’ve always wanted to write about my grandmother’s journey, but lacked the documentation to visually tell the story. I now think I have enough to tell the story properly (if not completely).

My grandparents and their families knew each other in Poland, and then in Belgium, but my grandparents didn’t marry until 1943, when both had made it to New York. While their families followed similar paths for many years, at least one portion of their stories took a very different turn.

My grandmother was born Lipka Kleinhaus in 1922 in Rzeszów, Poland. She was the youngest of six children, her oldest sister nineteen years her senior. Her closest sibling in age, her brother Nusen, was ten years older than her. Like my grandfather’s family, her family found their way to Antwerp, Belgium in the 1920s. Once there, they entered the diamond business following a relative who had arrived earlier.

Some documentation of the family’s stay in Belgium can be found in the files of the Belgian Police des Étrangers which I’ve lectured on in the past. If you had family that lived in Belgium, see my Belgium page on where records can be found. The photo below, for example, came from one of the Police des Étrangers files.

My grandmother, her brother Nusen, and parents Feiga and Chaim
Continue reading Seven women, and a detour to Morocco