Hebrew for "Irene"?
March 10, 2010 7:26 PM   Subscribe

Language/Hebrew Baby Name Help -- What would be a good Hebrew name for a girl to honor a deceased relative named Irene?

From my in-depth anthro-linguistical research (10 minutes on google), it appears that the name Irene is from the Greek language and means "peace." We would like to give our new daughter a Hebrew name that somehow references Irene, though, based on my research, there does not appear to be a direct Hebrew analogue. "Shalom" for "peace" seems too generic. It could just be something that sounds kinda like Irene. Any thoughts?
posted by Mid to Grab Bag (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I knew a woman named עירית / Irit (pronounced EE-REET), which sounds a bit like Irene.
posted by rancidchickn at 7:32 PM on March 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Shalva means "tranquility" which is like peace.
There's Shlomit (derivation of Shalom). Not sure if that's too generic for you as well.
posted by needs more cowbell at 7:37 PM on March 10, 2010

"Shalom" for "peace" seems too generic.

What do mean? I don't think Shalom would be a generic name. The only girl named Shalom I've ever heard of is Shalom Harlow.

According to Wikipedia, related female names include Shulamit, Shulamith, Shlomtzion or Shlomzion and Salome and Shlomith.

I've always liked the name Iva, which is Hebrew. Doesn't sound like Irene or mean "peace," but it starts with an "I," and in Judaism at least that counts in terms of honoring a deceased relative.
posted by amro at 7:37 PM on March 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

What do mean?

Oops, should be "What do you mean?"
posted by amro at 7:38 PM on March 10, 2010

Isidora? as a variant on Isidore? While not exactly a Hebrew name, traditionally Jewish.

Names that start with I and J can often find their roots in a phonetic Y in Hebrew (Yis'rael for Israel, Yakov for Jacob). So, Israela?

How about Rani or Rini or Rinat or Rinnah? in Hebrew for Song/Sing. Renena?
posted by miasma at 7:43 PM on March 10, 2010

My great-aunt was named Rena, which is Hebrew, and it was anglicized to Irene.
posted by amro at 7:46 PM on March 10, 2010

Rena sounds like Irene and apparently means "peace" in one of the places I saw (maybe because of an association with Irene?). In other places, it looks like it means "a joyous song."

Ilana refers to a tree.

Idra is an Aramaic name, which is a Semitic language from the Canaanite family like Hebrew. It would fit the "same first letter" idea; it means "fig tree"

If you're set on Hebrew because of the connection to one or both sides of the family, how about looking at the country your families came from for inspiration, like (wild, stereotypical guess here) Poland, Russia or Germany?
posted by Madamina at 7:57 PM on March 10, 2010

posted by pseudostrabismus at 8:04 PM on March 10, 2010

I think the traditional Jewish thing to do is to use a name with the same first letter (so my dad is Ira, his cousin is Irwin, a really unfortunate cousin is named Iran, all named after an Isaac)...

Also, just my two cents...please don't give your child a name that is super hard to pronounce/spell in your country/language (I'm going to assume USA/English)...unique names are awesome, but if it's too unusual she's going to spend her whole life correcting people!
posted by radioamy at 8:38 PM on March 10, 2010

I think the traditional Jewish thing to do is to use a name with the same first letter (so my dad is Ira, his cousin is Irwin, a really unfortunate cousin is named Iran, all named after an Isaac)...

I'm Jewish and that's how it's done in my family. In fact, my middle name is Irene - for my dad's father, whose name was Irving.
posted by SisterHavana at 9:02 PM on March 10, 2010

rena (also commonly spelled rina) strikes me as a good fit. It means some synonym of "joy" (not peace or a song).
posted by milestogo at 9:20 PM on March 10, 2010

My middle name is Ora, and means light. I've also met several women who have the Hebrew name Orit, also meaning light. And for me, peace and light cone together, so please, use my name, it's plenty uncommon.

(for those not familiar with the concept, your Hebrew name is not necessarily the name people call you by, or even your legal first name.)
posted by bilabial at 9:25 PM on March 10, 2010

posted by brujita at 9:58 PM on March 10, 2010

Adding to the chorus that a first letter works as traditionally honouring a relative. My name is Ilana ("strong tree") for my grandfather Irving.
posted by ilana at 10:45 PM on March 10, 2010

There's also Reina - pure. I'm quite fond of Ilanit or Irit though.
posted by Sophie1 at 8:01 AM on March 11, 2010

Much of this depends on what your rabbi says. In the "Yiddish" tradition, the name that you commonly go by is what you use to honor. In the "Hasidic", or even more orthodox, tradition, it's the Hebrew name that counts for this - and the first letter has to match in Hebrew (which means the pronunciation of the first consonant can conceivably change from name to name), and if there's an English name, it can be whatever. And yes, there are a lot of cases where this overlaps and both are done.

More modernly (and, in my case) there's an opportunity to use multiple names (First, Middle, Hebrew) to honor different relatives.

And, of course, Sephardim freely name for the living, since they don't subscribe to the mysticism that makes such things taboo among Ashkenazim.

Anyway, not like all this really answers the question, but consult the rabbi for your family (or, the family in question). And, learn if there was an alternate Hebrew name for Irene. If nothing else, it'll give you more choices.
posted by Citrus at 12:16 PM on March 11, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks - we're leaning toward Irit! Now if we could just figure out what it means. One website says it means "daffodil," another says "light," and another says "Irish woman." ?!
posted by Mid at 8:37 AM on March 12, 2010

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