giving children english names

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    Hakatan that’s exactly what I meant. The Binyan Dovid too didn’t mean to excoriate his people for their Hungarian names. They had to have legal names. His issue was that they used these names at home and with friends instead of their yiddish names. I also said that, as you restated. Nothing wrong with an American legal name of Robert. But outside of work in your yiddish atmosphere be called Reuven.


    I don’t live in a Yiddish atmosphere. I woudln’t understand anyone if I did.


    Changed your name to Sara yet?

    😉 😉 😉


    I never gave any of our children secular names. Loshon Kodosh is Loshon Kodosh. it is for that reason that I would likewise not give them Yiddish names, or use the name Alexander. If it is not L”K, it is not a Jewish name, but merely the name of some transliteration of a word from another language. “Hirsh” is “Tzvi” so why is anyone naming a child Hirsh (and why did the very first person to use Yiddish for a name, do so, rather than the Hebrew)?

    This is a personal issue with me, because I adamantly oppose this practice. Only L”K (possible exception Aramaic) is truly authentic for Jewish names. Otherwise, why did Bnei Yisroel get such merit for not changing their names to the local vernacular in Egypt? Yiddish, just because it was a unifying language for Jews in Europe, is primarily German and a bissel Hebrew thrown in.

    Now, ENGLISH is the great unifier, with more Torah being learned (thanks to Mr. Art Scroll), than ever before ANYWHERE. So maybe instead of Mendel ben Leibish, someone should name his child Matthew ben Lawrence. If you want to argue the point that great Rabbonim were named Yiddish names (the Kotzker for example), so for whom was HE named, and why, all the way back, did someone choose to use Yiddish rather than Hebrew? No one has ever given me an answer to this that makes any sense.


    B’H in this day and age it is not as necessary to give a secular name, I’ve tried to make my childrens lives a bit easier by not using any “ch” names. Living out of town my children often have the distinction of being the only frum patients at the dentist or doctors,names are a great springboard discussion for kiruv.

    “oh,your name is jewish…. my mother is jewish….” we really do hear that one often.


    A side point in this discussion is the use of alliteration between Hebrew and English names as in the previously mentioned “Robert and Reuven.” Respectfully, this practice is not required by Halacha and is just silly.

    As an Ashkenazic Jew, my family has always give children Hebrew names after deceased relatives. Everyone is familiar with this custom. There is no requirement, however, to attempt to translate a Hebrew name into something in English. Your son could be named Moshe ben Chaim and have an English name of Steven.

    Somehow, however, I suspect someone will come up with an opposing view. 🙂


    My sons english names don’t really correspond to their hebrew names.



    I am fascinated ny your Chutzpa in “I adamantly oppose this practice” Who are you to “oopose” the pratice of generations of

    ?????? ?????? ???


    WHOA. Shouldn’t be here. I can adamantly oppose ANY non-halachic practice that I choose to. I may not be “anybody” at all, but that does not take away my bechirah chafshis. The Gedolim who practiced thus, took a foreign language (just as much as English is), and adopted it as the vernacular for Eastern European Jewry. That no longer makes Yiddish more choshuv than ANY language spoken by the majority of Jews in a large geographical area.

    Most Jews in the USA, which is larger than Europe, if I am not grossly mistaken (which I could be – I was never good at geography), virtually ALL speak English, and most Yeshivahs that are not die-hard “teitchers,” learn in English/Aramaic. Most shiurim for adult males are given in English,except for the actual reading of the text. So by that very same logic English is at least as choshuv as Yiddish, which was only spoken for a few centuries (which btw, is as long as English has been spoken here, too).

    Yes, the Gedolim are all tovim mimeni, but that does not mean that Yiddish is proper for naming a Jewish child, any more than French or Spanish would be (and there are many Western European Jews who cannot and never could speak a word of Yiddish – do you believe none of them learned Torah or never conversed in their own languages?). Stop being such a chauvinist. I have every right to my opinion, and you were very rude.


    Where did you pickup such chutzpa? (Not to mention spuriousness.)


    Oomis I am totally confused. You are totally opposed to using Yiddish names and are a staunch believer in the permissability of using the vernacular when necessary (which I have no problem with as you can very well see)


    No, I am NOT in favor of the vernacular. You TOTALLY misunderstood the point I was trying to make (apparently not too well, however). I am opposed to the use of anything other than actual L”K for Jewish names. My point, very simply, is that if you believe Yiddish is appropriate for naming a Jewish child (because the Jews of Europe spoke it and it was a single unifying language among them, and used for disseminating Torah in great numbers and yadayadayada), then you should have no difficulty whatever in using ENGLISH for the Jewish names of Jewish children, as English is now the number one unifying language in this country, and more Torah than ever before is being taught in ENGLISH.

    I do not believe that either Yiddish OR English is appropriate for naming a Jewish child, ONLY L”K is truly Jewish. Yiddish was appropriate for its time strictly for communication among Jews of various Eastern (but not Western) Jewish communities. IMO (to which I have a right), neither Yiddish nor English is really that appropriate for naming a child in them, and certainly one language is no “holier” (anymore) than another, based solely on what I expressed about the language used for learning Torah.

    If you are objective and forget your nostalgic feelings for the Alte Heim of the past, for the moment, you will understand that English has already replaced Yiddish as common communications ground among Jews in this vast country of ours, not to mention many other countries. Except for chassidim, I do not know any Jews in my peer group who speak Yiddish, though all speak Hebrew, which IS our language.

    To sum it up: Yiddish/English names out, Hebrew in.


    OOMIS… I just started a thread od Yiddih, Ladino etc.

    Watch the responses they should be interesting (& thought provoking?). Or am I overestimating the scholars of the CR


    Ladino was the unifier of the Western European Jews. So it, too, has that heilige tongue status that people accord to Yiddish. I agree there should be extreme respect for the languages and traditions that brought us together in Europe at that point in time, and in the early-mid 1900s here. But we no longer live in Europe, we primarily speak English in far greater numbers than Yiddish was spoken in Europe, and it is time to understand there is only one true Loshon Kodesh. And that is the language in which our Jewish children should be named, and not a re-worked German language. IMO.


    Oomis, when Rashi needed a word that could not be found in Ivrit, he wrote in French. If the foremost commentary on the Torah is written even partially in French, I think that trumps Yiddish as the Jewish language.

    Oh, and before I forget, to the person who said your children use only their birthdays according to the Jewish calendar, I have a similar problem. Since I started putting 5771 on my checks, the bank has been bouncing them saying they are post-dated 3,761 years.


    Well, as it happens, a number of ‘Hebrew’ names are not actually Hebrew in origin at all. Moshe, for example, is ancient Egyptian–it’s the same root that appears in the Pharoanic name Thutmose. Miriam is also in all likelihood Egyptian in origin. (The origin of Aharon is not clear.) Mordechai is Persian and is derived from the name of the pagan god Marduk. Esther is also Persian and is derived from the root for ‘star.’ Some of our names are Aramaic as well.

    The custom of double names, a shem kodesh and a shem kinnui, goes back at least as far as Hellenistic times. Famous examples include Philo of Alexandria, whose shem kodesh was Yedidiah, and the historian of the Roman-Jewish wars, (Titus) Flavius Josephus (Yosef ben Matisyahu) who was in modern terms very frum. You can see the same custom in the Christian scriptures with characters named Shimon Peter and Shaul Paul. The custom of dual names continued on through the Middle Ages (in Muslim lands some Jews even used the name Mohammed which is, of course, unthinkable today) to the present. The fact of the matter is that our names reflect our long and varied history, almost all of it spent as a small (and often oppressed) minority surrounded by less than welcoming majorities with whom we of necessity had to interact. Today in EY and in some enclaves in North America and Europe, we do not all have to interact on a daily basis with non-Jews, and in those enclaves people have reverted to one “Jewish” (not necessarily Hebrew) name.

    Rashi was indeed a Francophone and borrowed French words into his writings. One notable French borrowing from that period is to bentch. This ultimately comes from the same Latin root as benediction and was borrowed from Latin through French.

    If people today, like Oomis, want to give their children only Hebrew names (thus. I presume, avoiding names like Moshe and Mordechai), that’s their choice and their right. My personal opinion is that ‘mixed’ names like Menahem Mendel, Dov Ber, Tzvi Hirsh, and the like and borrowed names like Shprintza (from the Spanish Esperanza), Gittel, Fraydl, and so forth are the names of our ancestors and reflect our long and difficult history, and I see no reason not to use them if parents so desire. Just so, the custom of giving a “Jewish” name (of whatever etymological origin) and a vernacular name (today probably an English one) has been part of our history for more than 2000 years, hardly an innovation. Our ancestors found this practice useful–in some small way it may have facilitated our survival in difficult times–and many still find it useful.


    See ??? ????

    Shmos 2 10. Basya gave Moshe Rabeinu a Jewish name, she either knew lshon hakodesh or asked, He also quotes “SECULAR” (impressed?) texts that ??? ????? Egyptian name was ??????.

    What sort of proof are Xian scriblings for Jewish practice



    Thank you for your very informative post. I once heard a rav visiting from Israel give a speech in which he said that Jewish people should not have “English” last names. (I presume what he really meant was names of European origin.)

    I discussed this with him afterwards since like many Ashkenazic Jews I have a family name that SOUNDS German (e.g. Bernstein, although that’s not my name). My opinion is that by continuing to use this name, I honor my father and grandfather and those before them, A”H.

    Seems to me, and I mean no disrespect to anyone here, that there is some confusion between what is Halacha, what is minhag, and what is someone’s SUGGESTION on what to do.


    Bamidbar, when I say Hebrew, perhaps I should qualify it by saying names of Jews we find in Tanach, which IS L”K, even if the name Mordechai has its roots in the name Marduk. Nonetheless in his name there is an element of his Jewish persona, because he was Mo-red against Haman (and I have no idea is this was ever said previously by a meforesh, but I just thought of it myself when I saw the name Mordechai posted). All the names you mentioned have Hebrew meanings. The letters of Esther, though a Persian name, means I will hide, and Hashem did hide Himself from the story written in the Megillah, there is no mention of Him at all. ALL names in the Torah are derivations, but once they are in the Torah, they are part of our heritage, though one would not probably find anyone named Esav (I have met a few Nimrods, though) 🙂

    The point I hold is that once Am Yisroel was established, those names WERE and ARE the Jewish names. There is no halacha regarding naming a child. I just feel (clearly very strongly), that names like Shprintzeh and Hirsch are not really Jewish names though they are treated as such, any more than are names like Raoul or Oscar or Miep, all of whom deserve to be honored by Jews for their actions. Look how many people name boys Alexander. These are my convictions, but only I have to live with them (and my kids, of course).

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