Tag Archives: names

Casual racism and onomastics from a century ago

problems-with-foreign-reg-thumbnailI recently came across this article, published in Volume 40 of Library Journal in 1915. The article, written for librarians obviously, explains the problem faced by libraries in areas with large populations of Jews. The problem addressed is the large variation in names among Jews, something well documented elsewhere but interesting in this article for its practical purpose (signing up library patrons) as long as you can excuse its casual racism.

One interesting item is the mention of the Brownsville branch of the Brooklyn public library building a Jewish name index to use to solve this problem. I’ve contacted the library and am waiting to hear back if they still have a copy of the mentioned index. That would be an interesting document to see.

The whole volume (1036 pages) is available on the Internet Archive (pages 402-405), although I’ve made a copy of just the relevant pages available as well for those interested in seeing the original. Otherwise, I’ve reproduced the complete text below:


     To understand properly the problems arising in the registration file of a library composed largely of Jewish readers, it is almost necessary to know something of the history of the Jewish language.

     Fishberg, in his book, “The Jews,” says: “Peculiar as it may appear to the uninformed, it is nevertheless a fact that there is no such language as could properly be called ‘Jewish’ When the language called Jewish is used as the mother tongue by some Jews, as is the case with Spagnuoli, Yiddish, Judaeo-Persian, it is not at all a Jewish language in the strict sense of the word. Each of these dialects is not understood by all Jews, the Yiddish-speaking Jew not understanding his Spanish co-religionists, the Persian not understanding either, while very few indeed understand Hebrew.”

     From the Babylonian captivity, the Jews have spoken, in turn, Chaldaic, Greek, Arabic, coming in the middle ages to the language of whatever European country they settled in, and this language, probably at first, certainly later, they wrote in Hebrew characters. From the eleventh to the sixteenth centuries the persecution of the Jews was widespread, and during that time laws were passed in the countries where they were allowed to remain restricting them to the Ghetto. As a result of this isolation, the language retained the vernacular of the middle ages. When persecutions drove many of the German Jews to Poland and further east, they by their superior culture were able to impose their language on their brethren, incorporating, however, many words of the eastern language. Thus, as Fishberg states: “The most widespread of the Jewish dialect is Yiddish (Judaeo-German, Judische); more than one-half of all the Jews in the world speak it. Up to the middle of the nineteenth century the Yiddish- speaking Jews were concentrated in Poland, Russia, Roumania, Austria-Hungary and parts of Germany. Since they began to wander away from their native lands during the last fifty years, they have carried this dialect into all parts of the globe. It is natural that the first generation should employ this dialect” in the new country, but “changes have taken place by the introduction of new words and phrases borrowed from” their new neighbors. “As is the rule in western Europe, the Jews of England and the United States give up Yiddish in favor of English. The children of the immigrants, compelled to speak to their parents in Yiddish, learn somewhat of this dialect, but practically never speak it among themselves.”

     Before showing how these differing nationalities and dialects have affected the names of our foreign Jewish population, a word must be said about the names themselves.

     A good story is told of the origin of names. Adam and Eve were assigning names in Eden, and after finishing with the plants, birds and beasts, finally came to men. As these filed by names were given them, Brown to this one, Sherman to that, Goldberg to the next and so on. Eve at last became tired, and seeing a long line still coming, she turned wearily to Adam, and said, “Let’s call all the rest Cohen.” And this accounts for so many Cohens.

     Though surnames were not unknown among the early Jews, they were not common, even as late as the eighteenth century. In 1787, however, Austria and Bohemia compelled the Jews to adopt surnames, which, until 1836 in Bohemia, were restricted to Biblical names. Napoleon in 1808 also compelled the Jews of France to adopt surnames and limited the free choice of names. Therefore, names of Biblical origin are naturally most numerous, such as Aaron, Cohen, Levy, and their variants. Then came names taken from localities, as Berlin, Hollander, London, the larger proportion of these being German. Next in order were names taken from their trades or occupations, as Schneider, in English Taylor, Goldsmith, Scherer and the like. Some called themselves from their fathers Abramson, Isaacson; while some, I understand, even bought theirs from their Christian neighbors.

     With this enforced adoption of a surname, there is, of course, no feeling attached to it, nor any pride or sentiment such as we feel in connection with a long ancestry.

     Among the Jewish immigrants here in New York we have representatives from all Europe, and as is natural, a name will vary with the different countries and dialects. Take, for example, the most usual surname of European Jews as given in the Jewish Encyclopedia Cohen. It is the Hebrew for “priest,” and indicates a family claiming descent from Aaron, the high priest, therefore of the ecclesiastical class, as Levy indicates the middle class, and Israel the common people. “Cohen” is the usual transliteration in English-speaking countries, but Cowan and Cowen also occur. Russia has a form Kagan and Kogen, which will be explained later, with Cahan, Kahana and others; Italy has Coen; France, Cahn, Caen and others. There are many variants, as is shown by the following sample taken from the library registration file.

     Cohen — Cahan, Cahn, Choen, Coan, Coane, Cogan, Cogen, Cohan, Cohn, Cohon, Cone, Coun, Cowan, Cowen, Coyne, Kagan, Kahan, Kahn, Keohan, Koen, Kohen, Kohn, Kohne, Kowen, Kuhn.

     While the country and the dialect form one cause of confusion in names, transliteration is a great factor. One or two examples of transliteration from the Russian will show more clearly than any explanation can do how difficult it is to transliterate, and what a part the dialects play. Take the well-known names of Dostoyevsky, spelled also Dostoieffsky and four other ways, and Turgenieff, also spelled Turgenev. These are all from reliable authorities. Which is correct ? When doctors disagree, who is to decide? The Russian v is pronounced as English /, the w as v. A common ending of Russian names, wits may be vitz, witch, vitch, wich or vich. Unlike our dialects of North, South and West, where with one spelling we pronounce certain words differently, in Russia each district has its own spelling corresponding to the pronunciation. In one district the name of Nudelman, in i another is spelled Needleman; in the first case the Russian vowel can be transliterated or oo, in the last as ee or ie.

     Russian also has one equivalent for both the English g and h, so a distinctly Russian name as Hirshkowitz may also be Girshkowitz, and as we have seen, Cohen may become Cogen. Let us trace other variations in that one name Hirshkowitz besides the g and h. Substitute e for i, sch for sh, and any of the above forms for wits, and you have forty-eight ways of spelling that one name, to an almost hopeless confusion in our registration files.

     Yiddish has its difficulties. Take Cohen again for an example. In the Yiddish spelling the first letter may be transliterated either c or k, the second a or o, the third h, and the last n (Cahn or Cohn, Kahn or Kohn). As vowels are rarely employed except to help the beginner, the e can be supplied or not, and can be put in any place. Add to this the variations due to country and dialect, and as has been shown, we have over twenty ways of spelling the name. Who wants to collate Cohen in twenty places in a registration file? And I leave to your imagination the variety of ways in which the vowel sounds can be written in English from the sound alone, especially when pronounced by the uneducated foreigner with his poor enunciation.

     His ignorance and the carelessness that goes with it are other great factors in this confusion of names. Mr. Solis-Cohen says, more especially of the Russian Jews: “Not many more than two adults in fifty will always spell their own names the same way, and for every member of a family to spell the family name alike is unusual. This happens chiefly because people think of the name in their vernacular and the way it is transliterated cr translated is an unimportant detail. Moreover, when they first arrive and begin to learn our characters, they spell their names phonetically, not becoming acquainted with the vagaries of English spelling until much later. With children, much of the trouble is due to Anglicizing a foreign name, e. g., changing Rosinsky to Rosen, and to the carelessness of the school teacher, who insists that a child spell his name a certain way without first discovering how his father spells it.” I may say here, however, that it is sometimes impossible to find out how he does spell it. It may be that six months ago he spelled it one way and to-day, having no occasion to write it in English meanwhile, he will have forgotten how he did spell it and will use a different form. When asked which way he prefers he will shrug his shoulders and say : “It makes no difference ; it is all the same.” “All the same” we would like to know his choice, and it is often left to us to decide the form.

     Help has come to the schools, as for the past two years they have required birth certificates at the time of registering. Many foreigners have to send to their native countries for them, and through these some queer mistakes have come to light, mistakes that were made at the immigration station when arriving in this country. Here is one. Two children of a family were registered as Isaac and Jacob, but when the birth certificate came it was found the elder was Jacob, and he had been using his brother’s name all these years. It is almost unbelievable that the parents should not have known the names or were careless enough to allow the change. Such changes of names, and especially a change of surname, is probably due to the confusion attendant on landing in a strange country. The foreigner is ignorant of the language, the official is obliged to enter hundreds of names, names enunciated very poorly, and which the immigrant cannot spell in English, if at all, and so, with no time to patiently question the man, the nearest name sounding like the one pronounced is given him. With the respect for official authority, which the immigrant feels he must obey, he accepts the name without question and not until months later, when he has learned somewhat of the language and customs of the country, does he realize he can return to his own name. And he does so without notice to the proper authorities or with any thought of wrongdoing.

     Poor enunciation, someone has said, is a racial characteristic of the Jews, though with care it can be overcome, as faults of pronunciation can also be corrected. The Lithuanian Jews cannot pronounce sh or sch they say s, as Savinsky for Schavinsky while the Roumanian Jews are like the London cockney in the use of h, Eller for Heller, Hoberman for Oberman; but children brought up in this country can pronounce these sounds. When there is intermarriage between these two countries, the children of the family will use both or either, and spell as they pronounce.

     Other cases could be given, but I think these are enough to show some of the causes of confusion in names, and how few people really have any intention of deceiving when they change the spelling. Where deception is met with, it is usually a deliberate translation, as from Schwartz to Black, or they change to a very different name, as. from Raflowitz to Cohen. Some have a different name at home, to what they have, say, registered at the gas company. One child recently could not remember whether her card at the library was under her own or her “gas-meter” name. There is one peculiarity all should know. “Junior” is so rare that you could say it is never met with. It is not customary to name a child for father or grandfather if either is living; they think it brings bad luck. If, therefore, a child gives his name the same as his father it is best to question him carefully.

     Among the poorer classes they seem to have no idea of the value of a signature. Time and time again parents, almost invariably those who cannot write English or cannot write at all, when they come to the library to endorse their child’s application, will tell the child to sign for them. And I should say most o*f these are the women. A borrower leaving this country to return to his native land will bequeath or sell his library card to a friend, who, upon the expiration of the application, will renew it, signing the friend’s name. And he will do this all in good faith.

     These and many more are the problems to be met with in a Jewish registration file, and probably similar ones are to be found among other nationalities.

     At the Brownsville branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, as an attempt to meet this problem, they are using the group system of filing instead of the strictly alphabetical one. All variations of a name are filed, as a rule, under the most common form, with cross references and extended forms directly after the simple or root name. An index of all the names is being made in the form of the A. L. A. index to subject headings, using “See also,” or, rather, “Collate with,” in cases where names are similar, though they are not put together in the application file. Great care has to be used in this grouping not to carry it too far. Names that in a Jewish neighborhood have been found interchangeable, as Black and Blake, in a strictly American one would never be considered the same and should not be put together. Each library, therefore, has its own problems to deal with in its own way, and this is only an attempt at solving the Jewish one.

     The following are samples from the in index, showing the strictly alphabetical index
with variations under “Refer from,” and names it is well to “Collate with” under that heading :

  Ref. from: Shefloff
  Ref. from: Shegal
  Ref. from : Schien, Shein
Coll. with: Scheinberg, Scheinhaus, Scheinman.
  Ref. from: Schienberg, Schoenberg, Schonberg
Coll. with: Schein, Schonberger.
  Coll. with: Scheinerman
  Coll. with : Scheiner, Scheinman
  Coll. with: Schein
Scheinker, see Schenker
  Ref. from: Shenman
Coll. with: Schein, Scheinerman
  Coll. with: Schenkman
  Ref. from : Scheinker
  Ref. from: Schinkman, Shankman, Sheinkman, Shenkman
Coll. with: Schenck
  Ref. from: Scharr, Schear, Scheer, Schier, Schoer, Schor, Schore, Schorr, Schurr, Shar, Shear, Sheer, Sheir, Sher, Shoor, Shor, Shore, Shorr, Shur, Shure
Coll. with: Shaw


Other historical articles about Jewish names:
Jewish Names from the Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics (1917)
Jewish Surnames: An instructive and suggestive essay on an interesting subject (1904)

For all articles on Jewish names from this site, go to the Names page.

101 Most Popular Jewish Boys Names in Israel in 2014

[Update: The lists for 20152016, and 2017-2018 are now available.]

Following yesterday’s posting of the 101 Most Popular Jewish Girls Names in Israel in 2014, I here present the most popular boys names. These names are taken from just-released information from the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS). Names have been translated and/or transliterated into English as necessary. In some cases, if the name is used in English in both forms (translated and transliterated), they are both presented in English.

The table below can be sorted by name in either Hebrew or English.

RankName (Hebrew)Name (English)Number
5אֵיתָןEitan (Ethan)1275
12יוֹנָתָןYonatan (Jonathan)887
14יְהוּדָהYehuda (Judah)856
18יִשְׂרָאֵלYisrael (Israel)695
20יַעֲקֹבYaakov (Jacob)666
21יִצְחָקYitzchak (Isaac)637
30שְׁמוּאֵלShmuel (Samuel)534
32שְׁלֹמֹהShlomo (Solomon)477
35שִׁמְעוֹןShimon (Simon)469
40אַהֲרוֹןAharon (Aaron)434
58נָתָןNatan (Nathan)323
77עוֹבַדְיָהOvadia (Obadiah)208

101 Most Popular Jewish Girls Names in Israel in 2014

[Update: The lists for 2015, 2016, and 2017-2018 are now available.]

Since my earlier posts on the most popular Israeli girls and boys baby names broken down by city, the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) has released the overall popularity of names broken down by religion. The following table shows the 101 most popular Jewish girls names  in Israel for the year 2014.

As with the previous posts, I’ve added English versions of all the names. In some cases I’ve used the most-common English version. In some cases I’ve added a transliteration of the Hebrew name with the English version, when both versions might be used. Some names might seem like boy’s names, such as Daniel, but in Israel are considered unisex. With Hebrew names that don’t exist in English, I’ve tried to give the best English transliteration I could considering both the pronunciation and what the name would be spelled like in English.

Since the CBS files don’t include nikudot (vowels) in the original Hebrew, some names may overlap that have the same letters, but are pronounced differently. In that case I’ve generally left out the nikudot from the Hebrew and put both versions in the English.

The table below is sortable by column, so you can easily sort by Hebrew name or English name, or then re-sort it by overall rank. The number of babies given each name is also shown.

RankName (Hebrew)Name (English)Number
14חַנָּהChana (Hanna)719
18רִבְקָהRivka (Rebecca)687
56יְהוּדִיתYehudit (Judith)325
68אֱלִישֶׁבַעElisheva (Elizabeth)266
74דְּבוֹרָהDvora (Deborah)239
78יַרְדֵּןYarden (Jordan)221
89בַּת שֶׁבַעBatsheva181

Most popular boys names in Israel, by city, for 2014

Earlier I posted a chart showing the most popular girls names in Israel in 2014, from 14 different cities. The data came from a report released by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), and I had just reformatted it to make it easier to read. That report didn’t have the information on boys, so I couldn’t post that information. I’ve since received the information on boys, and put together a similar chart for boys names, although there are some caveats. If you are not interested in comparative demographics and onomastics of the Jewish and Muslim populations of Israel, you should skip directly down to the chart below.

People who have read other reports on popular names in Israel this year probably noticed that the most popular name in Israel is Mohammed. That’s not because more Muslims are born in Israel than Jews (although there are more Muslims born per capita, the difference is not as extreme as it was in the past, and the overall number is still much lower). It’s because one in seven Muslim boys in Israel were named Mohammed in 2014, while the next closest ratio among Jews was one in forty. There is just a larger pool of first names used among the Jewish population than there is among the Muslim population.

As this blog is about Jewish genealogy, I’ve removed the Muslim names, but indicated which cities had names removed with an asterisk. Where things get tricky is where names overlap. In some cases names are clear, such as the most popular Muslim names Mohammed and Ahmed. Other names, while pronounced differently, are spelled the same in Hebrew, like Joseph (Yosef in Hebrew, Yusef in Arabic). Some names are for the same person but spelled very differently, such as for Abraham, which is Avraham (אברהם) in Hebrew and Ibrahim (אבראהים) in Arabic.

Some names are used by both Jews and Muslims, but are much more popular among one group than in the other. For example, in 2013 (I don’t have the full overall rankings for 2014 yet) Omer (עומר) was the 3rd most popular name among Muslim boys, and the 17th most popular among Jewish boys. Omer, in Hebrew, comes from the word for a sheaf (bundle) of wheat used in the bible, while the Arabic version would be Umar, who was the Caliph (ruler) of the Muslim world who accepted the surrender of Jerusalem in 637 CE. The Mosque of Umar, which sits on the Temple Mount, was built later, but named after him (not to be confused with the Dome of the Rock which also sits on the Temple Mount, but is not strictly speaking a mosque.

Adam (אדם) was the 5th most popular name among Muslim boys, and the 51st most popular name among Jews. In the case of Adam, in general you would think if it showed up in the top ten then it was as a Muslim name, but where things like that get thrown off is in Tel Aviv, where Arabs (Muslims and Christians) make up less than 5% of the population, Adam showed up in 2014 as the 5th most popular name. That would seem unlikely to be due to the Arab population unless all Arabs in Tel Aviv named their sons Adam. On the other hand, this could be evidence of the large variety of names used by Tel Aviv Jews, lowering the overall score for the names used among them, while bringing Muslim names higher up in the list due to the scarcity of names used compared to the Jewish population. As further evidence of this, in 2013 the top ten Muslim boys names made up 41.47% of all names, while the top ten Jewish boys names made up only 18.41% of all names.

However, as mentioned, in 2014 one in seven boys in Israel were name Mohammed. In Tel Aviv Mohammed shows up in 47th place, yet less common Muslim names Adam and Omer show up in 5th and 7th place respectively. While some of the reason clearly has to do with those names also being used among the Jewish population, that wouldn’t seem to explain their popularity completely. Perhaps, and this is just a guess, Muslims in Tel Aviv are more likely to name their children using names common among both Jews and Muslims, which skews the popularity of those names. It’s also possible that that Adam, which simply translates as Man in Hebrew, is more popular among the Jewish population of Tel Aviv than in the country overall.

Interestingly, this disparity doesn’t exist among girls names, where there is an equal range of names for both Jews and Muslims. The top ten names of both Jewish and Muslim girls make up just over 17% of names, and in fact the Muslim girls names are slightly lower than the Jewish girls, showing a slightly higher variance. Perhaps I’m cynical, but the lack of disparity between girls names might explain why the chart given by the CBS only showed girls names. Without some names making up a much higher percentage of usage, the large cities they chose would be unlikely to show a Muslim name. In the cities they chose, there were no Muslim girls names in the top eleven names, so while they do include Muslim names among the geographic distribution records, the list of names in the chart I posted previously were singularly Jewish. This is the case without the CBS needing to remove names as I’ve done below (something they’ve gotten in trouble for in the past).

I should point out that while the girls chart did not include any exclusively Muslim names, the rankings shown were certainly influenced by Muslim children, in at least one case. Miriam (מרים), the number two girls name in Jerusalem in 2014, also happened to be the number two girls name among Muslims in 2013. Among Jews in 2013, Miriam was the 25th girls name. Clearly Miriam could be more popular in Jerusalem among Jews, and that’s probably the case (being a more traditional name), yet it seems at least a few places in the ranking for that name in Jerusalem are due to Muslim girls.

Just to be clear, while it’s true that Adam and Omer which I remove from the rankings are obviously used among the Jewish population, and I know Jewish people in Israel with those names, I’m only removing them because it seems unlikely they would show up in the top eleven names without the Muslim population, and as a list of the most popular Jewish names, I’ve removed them to illustrate the top Jewish names. For the record, the names I removed are (with original ranking):

Jerusalem: Mohamed (1), Ahmed (7) and Adam (10).
Haifa: Adam (4) and Omer (8).
Tel Aviv: Adam (5) and Omer (7)
Holon: Omer (10)
Rishon Lezion: Adam (10)

With that out of the way, here’s the chart for Jewish boys names in 2014, divided into the same 14 cities used in the girls’ chart (click on the chart to see it larger):

Popular Jewish Boys Names by City 2014
Some notes and observations. In general, I’ve used the English translation of a name (such as Joseph) instead of the transliteration of a name (such as Yosef). In cases where I felt the translation would be unlikely to be used (such as Moses) I’ve used a transliteration (such as Moshe). Some names have no translation into English, or at least no common one.

Like the girls chart, the most popular boys name overall (Noam) is only the top name in three out of the fourteen cities. The overall rankings countrywide for boys is Noam, Uri/Ori, David, Joseph, Eitan, Itai, Ariel, Daniel, Yehonatan, and Moshe. Interestingly the only other name at number one in three of these cities is Daniel, which is down at number eight.

It’s also worth pointing out that while Noam (נועם) is the most popular boys name in Israel, and Noa (נועה) is the most popular girls name, Noam is also used a girls name in Israel, while Noa is not used as a boys name. Don’t be confused by Noah (נח), of biblical ark fame, whose name ranked only at number 281 among Jewish males in Israel in 2013, and is not used among girls in Israel. In the US, on the other hand, Noah is actually the number one name used for boys.

You might notice that for the name אורי I’ve listed two English versions, Uri and Ori. That’s because Hebrew doesn’t use vowels, and while these two names can be differentiated by using nikud (a kind of vowel system that uses marks such as dots and dashes below and above the letters), there is no nikud in the official data, so there is no way to differentiate between the names Uri and Ori.

Some of the more uncommon names from the perspective of English speakers include Yehonatan, Eliya, Nehorai, and Ilay.

Yehonatan is a different form of Yonatan, or Jonathan. The origin of the name is biblical, but used by less well known people than the name Jonathan. Perhaps the popularity of Yehonatan is a way to use a less common spelling for a popular name, something very common in English naming, although more common I believe for girls names, such as Sophia/Sofia, Chloe/Khloe, Zoe/Zoey, etc.

Eliya, maybe better spelled Aliya, but I didn’t want it confused with the common word Aliya (pronounced differently), used to denote someone who moved from outside of Israel to Israel. The root of the word is not the same. The word comes from the bible, where it is not a name of a person. Nehorai and Ilay are both taken from the Talmud, Nehorai the name of a rabbi, and Ilay the name of two different rabbis.

I don’t know why these names have become popular. I suppose some research into popular culture (to see if there are famous people in Israel with these names) and a comparison with previous years (to see when the names became popular) could help determine the reasons. If you have an idea about these names, or any other names for that matter, please share your thoughts in the comments.

Popular Girls Names Israel by City, 2014

Most popular girls names in Israel, by city, for 2014

Israel’s Central Bureau for Statistics (CBS) released some statistics on names given to children in 2014. The report (in Hebrew) they released is a bit of a hodgepodge of information, giving the most popular Jewish boys names for the country in a table, but not giving that information for girls. There are some nice charts showing trending names. One interesting one is on the rising popularity of the girls names Adele and Romi:

trendingnames-adele and romi
That’s Adele in green, Romi in red, and Roni (maybe Ronni would be a better spelling) in blue. Roni is a name that has been around a long time, and I’m guessing they put it in to show the contrast to Romi, which twenty years ago basically didn’t exist, and is now becoming very popular. Adele is obviously skyrocketing in popularity, and it’s not hard to figure out why, considering the worldwide popularity of the singer by that name.

While there was no simple table of the most popular girls names (I assume that will be released soon), there was a fascinating chart of the most popular girls names broken down by city. I’ve reorganized the chart to make it a bit easier to read, and added the English versions of the names. When there is an established translation of the name I used it, if there is no English version I used the most popular or most logical spelling for the Hebrew name. Click on the table to see a larger version of it:

Popular Girls Names Israel by City, 2014
There are a few interesting things in the name lists. For example, I know that overall the most popular girls name is Noa, and yet in the 14 large cities they showed, only three of them have Noa in the top spot. The two cities that Noa doesn’t show up in are the two largest (in terms of births), Jerusalem and Bnei Brak. Of course, the names may show up below the threshold used in this chart (the top eleven) and may even contribute more to the name’s popularity than the cities where Noa shows up as number one. This is because the number of girls given the 11th most popular name (Hanna) in Jerusalem was 132, while the number of people who received the number one name in Rehovot (Noa) was only 36. It’s possible that there were more than a hundred girls in Jerusalem that received the name Noa, which would be roughly three times the influence on the national result than Rehovot’s contribution, even if it was much further down the list.

One name that showed up several times is Agam. That name makes me think of the artist Yaacov Agam, famous for his 3D art, but it’s likely the name comes from the same place Yaacov Agam took it from (his original surname was Gipstein), which is the Hebrew word used for Lake (or pond, or pool). The word shows up once in the bible, in Psalm 114, used as part of the Hallel prayer recited on major holidays and on Rosh Chodesh (celebration of the new moon each month). In Psalm 114, the phrase is:

Tremble, thou earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob; Who turned the rock into a pool of water, the flint into a fountain of waters.

Without the full set of data, it’s not possible to glean so much information about the cities themselves, but you can get a sense of which cities have faster growing populations. One would guess from the fact that Bnei Brak has less than half the population of Tel Aviv (the two cities border each other), but has more births that is growing significantly faster. Of course, it is possible that the data is simply showing that in Bnei Brak people chose from a smaller pool of names, or that certain names were so popular there than they show up in larger numbers in these lists, but the overall birth numbers are not skewed as much. I suspect both are true (that Tel Aviv has a wider variety of names, and that there are more births-per-family in Bnei Brak which is more religious than Tel Aviv).

It will be interesting when the full dataset is released to see how some of the names fall out. What the report does show is that the top girls names overall were Noa, Tamar, Shira, Maya, Yael, Adele, Talia, Abigail, Ayala, and Sarah (just not in a nice table). Note that Noa is on the decline and Tamar on the rise, so if current trends coninue it’s likely Tamar will beat out Noa next year or soon thereafter.

I hope they release a similar breakdown of boys names by city, as in my experience the full datasets are only for the country, not broken down by city, so if they don’t release it in a similar report, there won’t be any way to figure it out.

[Update: I’ve created a chart for boys names using the same cities.]