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All About Jewish Names in Brief

All About Jewish Names in Brief

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Names are more than convenient labels; going by your Jewish name is a statement of pride in your Jewish heritage. The Jews of ancient Egypt, tradition tells us, kept their Jewish names. That’s one of the ways they remained a cohesive people and merited redemption.

There’s more: Your Jewish name is the channel by which life reaches you from Above. In fact, the Kabbalists say that when parents name a child, they experience a minor prophecy—because, somehow, that child’s destiny is wrapped up in the combination of Hebrew letters that make up his or her name.

Granting a name in the presence of the Torah infuses the name with blessing

A girl gets her name at the Torah reading in the synagogue. The rabbi or Torah reader recites a prayer for the health of mother and child, and the father provides the name that the parents have chosen. Since the Torah is the source of all good things, granting a name in the presence of the Torah infuses the name with blessing.

A boy is named at his brit milah (circumcision), when he enters into the covenant of Abraham and becomes a full-fledged member of the Jewish nation.

Some Details:

  • Never got a Jewish name? Converting to Judaism? Select a Jewish name that resonates with you. Often, people choose a name that is similar to their non-Jewish name in sound, in meaning, or both.
  • Traditionally, Jews name their children after relatives or holy people. Sephardic Jews will sometimes name a child after a living ancestor; not so Ashkenazic Jews. Click here for more details.
  • When we pray for someone, we have in mind that person’s Jewish name and that of his or her mother. But when we call a man for an aliyah to the Torah, we use his Jewish name and that of his father.
  • A change in name can result in a change of fortune. That’s why, if someone is dangerously ill, we might provide him an additional name.
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Discussion (48)
October 17, 2014
names
why did Elimelech and naomi name their children mahlon and kilion
debbaa
nebraska
April 28, 2014
Re:
Both "ben Avraham" as well as using one's mother's father's names are both commonly done when one's father is not Jewish. Speak to your local Rabbi to find out the accepted local practice.
Yisroel Cotlar
Cary, NC
April 21, 2014
If one's father is not Jewish (and therefore has no Hebrew name), does this person become "ben Avraham"? In some contexts, can the child get the name of his maternal grandfather?
Livni
March 17, 2014
Do I have a Jewish name?
My last name is Bingenheimer,which is similar to Oppenheimer and Guggenheim. Do you think this is a German-Jewish name
Gail
Us
September 15, 2013
Jewish names
Shalom, I will like to know the name with the meaning "G-d has answered me". The female is "Eliana" but don't know that of the male. Thanks.
Clint
Abuja, Nigeria
September 12, 2013
Jewish name and it's english version?
Have a Hebrew first name Shlomo, would Solomon be a name used for Shlomo in English speaking countries?
Mike
Mpls, n
June 30, 2013
Choosing a name
I think that although the name may give the child a destiny we still have the ability to make choices with our potential. Wonderful article!
Roee
Connecticut
December 8, 2012
What does my name mean?
How do I find out what my name signifies and its meaning.
Rebecca
ABQ, NM
chabadnm.org
August 10, 2012
Surname Ruth origin?
Any word out there for the surname Ruth?
Alison Hayden
Oakland, CA/USA
March 9, 2012
Ronda.
I was told when choosing my Hebrew name to give it much thought and to be prepared to become the meaning of the name. To bring the meaning of the name into lthis ife as if it were a gift.

Maybe the name you feel drawn to is calling you.

Linda H
Yorkshire, UK
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