Tag Archives: jewish

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).

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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

US Rabbinical Guide to Female Jewish Names from 1939

Adding to my recent series of Jewish given name lists (see my Names page for links to all the articles on names) is this list which comes from a US-published guide for pulpit rabbis. The book, called Hamadrikh (ְהַמַּדְרִיך), was initially published in 1939, and later revised in 1956. For decades it served as a unique guide to rabbis on how to perform specific rituals, with lists of prayers for things like marriage, circumcision, redeeming the first born, bar mitzvahs, dedicating a new torah, a new synagogue, laws related to visiting the sick, adding a name, the dying, etc. One important section deals offers templates for inscriptions to be used on gravestones. It’s likely many of the gravestones inscribed in the subsequent decades in the US followed the templates present in this book.

Excerpt from Hamadrikh
Continue reading US Rabbinical Guide to Female Jewish Names from 1939

US Rabbinical Guide to Male Jewish Names from 1939

Adding to my recent series of Jewish given name lists (see my Names page for links to all the articles on names) is this list which comes from a US-published guide for pulpit rabbis. The book, called Hamadrikh (ְהַמַּדְרִיך), was initially published in 1939, and later revised in 1956. For decades it served as a unique guide to rabbis on how to perform specific rituals, with lists of prayers for things like marriage, circumcision, redeeming the first born, bar mitzvahs, dedicating a new torah, a new synagogue, laws related to visiting the sick, adding a name, the dying, etc. One important section deals offers templates for inscriptions to be used on gravestones. It’s likely many of the gravestones inscribed in the subsequent decades in the US followed the templates present in this book.

Excerpt from Hamadrikh
Continue reading US Rabbinical Guide to Male Jewish Names from 1939

Pre-War Female Jewish Names in Poland

In 1928, the Warsaw Jewish community published a list of Jewish given names, with the name in Hebrew, a transcription of the Hebrew, and the Polish equivalent. The list was intended to show the proper forms of Jewish names, and also included a second larger list of names which were meant to show incorrect alternatives that should not be used.

This is an excellent list, and particularly useful for understanding what names were in use at the time, and for looking up the Polish versions of names (although keep in mind that one’s name in Hebrew need not have mapped directly to the Polish equivalent). The booklet is titled Spis Imion Żydowskich in Polish and לוח השמות העבריים in Hebrew (It actually has a a title page and introduction in Polish on one side, and a title page and introduction in Hebrew on the other side).

Excerpt of Spis Imion Żydowskich

One way to use this list, besides searching for names you might have found in a document or on a gravestone, is to find the canonical name. For example, if you are looking for a relative that you found in a document listed as Libcia or Liwsza, and are looking for their birth record, it’s useful to know that those names derive from Liba.

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