Name me!
November 25, 2009 11:59 AM   Subscribe

I am converting to Judaism and need to pick my Hebrew name. Any ideas?

Kind of fun, huh?

My Rabbi suggested to choose a name that represents a trait I aspire to, or a name I just like the sound of, or a name that begins with the first letter of my name. The traits I've come up with that I seek to emboy more are "courage," "joy," "strength." I have a few options for joy, but "courage" and "strength" I can only find boys' names (and I'm a girl). I like names like Yael and Haviva and Chaya but those names are out because family members have them.

I'd like this name to be pretty and somehow feel like 'me.' This is harder than naming a baby, since I already exist and know what "I" feel like. I don't really want a well-known biblical name like Sarah or Rebecca or a name that sounds harsh/ugly. I don't want a name that is defined by the person's relationship with God (i.e. Gavriella - God is my strength) although I love the way some of those names sound.
posted by n'muakolo to Religion & Philosophy (28 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
For courage: Odeda
For strength: Keren, Etana
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:07 PM on November 25, 2009

I don't know if this fits your criteria at all, but I've always loved the name Naomi - and the bible story that goes along with it.
posted by Sassyfras at 12:14 PM on November 25, 2009

It doesn't mean courage or strength, but I've always loved the name Tzipora which means "bird."
posted by chez shoes at 12:27 PM on November 25, 2009

How about Devorah?

She was the only female judge of Israel, certainly a symbol of courage and strength. Devorah even went into battle alongside Barak, the Israeli general, against the Canaanites.

Devorah is Hebrew for "bee," which I think also represents courage quite well.
posted by espire at 12:38 PM on November 25, 2009 [5 favorites]

I like Ahuva (or Ahava). It's my Hebrew middle name, and means "friendship" I think.
posted by amro at 12:44 PM on November 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

Maybe Ariella? Comes from the Hebrew word for lion (Arieh), which is pretty much the epitome of what you described. Also, one vote up for Etana (which is a derivative of my name, Eytan). Bonus for Eytan because it also is one of Abraham's names.

So if someone's answer gets marked correct in this question, they effectively named you?
posted by eytanb at 12:47 PM on November 25, 2009

When one of my friends converted she and her Rabbi decided to research families that died in the Holocaust, leaving no living descendants. She then "adopted" one of those families and took her name from them. I know that's not what you and your Rabbi discussed, but I thought I would mention it as a possible option if you're having trouble finding one that suits you perfectly.
posted by twoporedomain at 12:51 PM on November 25, 2009 [10 favorites]

Ahava means love, and Ahuva means "the loved one." I like "Aliza" for joy.

Since you've established quite a few restrictions, and want a name that express your "youness," it might help if you could tell us a bit more about yourself and your conversion.
posted by j1950 at 12:53 PM on November 25, 2009

I refuse to use a Hebrew name. I also use the Yiddish spelling of my last name, שפארבער, which always irritated my Hebrew instructors, but there is no actual obligation to have a Hebrew name, and I am named after my father's uncle, who was a European Jew, so I didn't feel like my name needed to be made any more Jewish.

That being said, there are some lovely Hebrew names. I am partial to Ruth, which, IIRC, is דןת. She is the one who said "Whither thou goest, I will go, whither thou dwellest, I will dwell, your people will be my people and your God mine," which is now in the marriage ceremony but was believed to be from the language of a conversion ceremony. And even though Ruth was a convert, she was the ancestor of David, and is supposed to be the ancestor of the messiah.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:56 PM on November 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

I also really like the name "Efrat," which means "fruitful," sort of. It's a name with a lot of symbolism. As a bonus, the book of Ruth (the most famous conversion story in Judaism) is about a family from Efrat whose descendants include King David. Efrat is also a significant place in the Bible.
posted by j1950 at 12:57 PM on November 25, 2009

רות is "Ruth."
posted by Electrius at 12:58 PM on November 25, 2009

Oh yes, thanks for the correction. I make as many typos in Hebrew as I do in English.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:01 PM on November 25, 2009

Emuna Adina - Graceful Faith
posted by watercarrier at 1:12 PM on November 25, 2009

Hadar (or Hadara or Hadarah) doesn't mean what you want it to mean (it's more about beauty than about strength), but it's a lovely Hebrew name and sounds an awful lot like your actual name (as listed in your profile).
posted by dersins at 1:13 PM on November 25, 2009

If it were me, I would choose a Hebrew name that either sounded similar to my English name (such as dersins's suggestion of Hadar) or had the same meaning. The Hebrew word for "heather" (the plant) is אַבְרָשׁ (Avrash). You could add an -ah at the end to feminize: אברשה (Avrasha).
posted by Sar HaPanim at 1:48 PM on November 25, 2009

My Hebrew name is Tikvah. Means hope.

My sister's name is Aviva. Spring, which is a time of new life.

Yasher koach!!!
posted by Sophie1 at 2:04 PM on November 25, 2009

Response by poster: Yep if any of you suggest the name I choose, that'll be the best answer.

I tried H names but wasn't taken with any.

Good ideas so far-thanks!
posted by n'muakolo at 2:55 PM on November 25, 2009

This might be helpful.
posted by TooFewShoes at 3:29 PM on November 25, 2009

I like Adira.
posted by thirteenkiller at 5:30 PM on November 25, 2009

How about Malka (queen)? Or Chava, which is more of a Yiddish name which I believe derives from Chai, living/alive (and kinda sorta starts with an h, even if it is a guttural one).
posted by teaperson at 7:23 PM on November 25, 2009

This is silly, because it's my hebrew name, but i like Kayla. Or my sister's, Leia.
posted by Kololo at 8:03 PM on November 25, 2009

Oh, and you can search hebrew names by meaning on this site!
posted by Kololo at 8:09 PM on November 25, 2009

The animal most used in the Bible as a symbol of strength and courage is a lion. The Hebrew word for lion is "Ari", which is usually a boy's name, but I think it would work for a girl as well. You could try the variant "Ariel" which is taken to be a theophoric version of Ari. It's also a poetic name for Jerusalem and the altar of the Temple that was there, and most famous for being the name of the sprite in Shakespeare's The Tempest.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:20 PM on November 25, 2009

I kind of detest the American custom of having Hebrew names we only use for Hebrew ceremonies, like Jewish secret super hero names. I'm a Hebrew so my name is a a Hebrew name. In their times, there was nothing Hebrew or unassimilated in names like Perl, Akiva, Esther, or even Sarah. Unless you're planning on going by a new name, you can always just transliterate the name you have - which is what I ended up doing. I'm sad that we're losing old names but we'll get new ones.
posted by Salamandrous at 8:45 PM on November 25, 2009

Chava is the Hebrew version of Eve. Chaya is life--my dad has an ex-gf with that name who is called by the Yiddish diminutive Hiala.


is what came up on babylon's website when I put in the translation for Heather, but my Hebrew is very rusty and I have no idea how to pronounce it.
posted by brujita at 10:09 PM on November 25, 2009

A little late to the game -
My cousin's Hebrew name is Drora, or Derora. It means liberty or freedom, and it's a pretty rare name. I think it's beautiful. (Not so much on the religious side though.)

Avigayil (Abigail) means something like "the joy of my father" - the Biblical Abigail was supposedly the model for the "Woman of Valor" in Proverbs and was a strong, courageous, and beautiful woman. Read more?

Rina is another name that means joy.

(curious to know what you decided.) :)
posted by bookgirl18 at 12:19 PM on November 30, 2009

Response by poster: Shoshanna!
posted by n'muakolo at 6:10 AM on April 21, 2010

mazel tov!
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:59 PM on April 21, 2010

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