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The way I heard it, Tzvi means ‘deer,’ ‘stag’ (hence the double name Tzvi Hirsch) and is a variant of or reference to Naftali whose emblem was the deer. In the same way Binyomin lies behind the names Ze’ev and Wolf, since Binyomin’s sign was the wolf, and Ari/Aryeh/Ariel/Loeb are variants of Yehudah, the lion.
The current slang meaning of ‘nimrod’ as a jerk or fool comes from a Bugs Bunny cartoon. Bugs was mocking Elmer Fudd who was out hunting with a gun as “poor little nimrod.” So basically a nimrod in today’s parlance is an Elmer Fudd kind of shnook. I personally would be in no hurry to name a child Nimrod.
A friend of mine has a son-in-law named Nimrod. He’s Israeli (or course), in his 40s, Persian on his mother’s side and Romanian on his father’s, and he has two little children: Talia Victoria and Jayden Shlomo. Jayden Shlomo may be the single most unfortunate name I have ever heard. Don’t want to step on anyone’s toes, but what a combination! Nimrod dates back to the early days of the state of Israel, when certain segments of the population were rejecting names like Moshe and Dovid and Shlomo as being literally too ghetto and were using pre-Abrahamic names and names of the less exemplary biblical characters. Now of course Israelis often use short names derived from common nouns, often nature-related, like Gil and Gal and Tal.
Maria is Greek for Miriam, and all the derivatives of Maria/Mary/Marie/Masha are simply forms of Miriam. Miriam, like Moshe, is a name of Egyptian origin, but it obviously has been popular for thousands of years among Jews. It was so popular 2000 years ago that almost all the women in the Christian canon (written mostly in Greek with a little Aramaic) are named Miriam, which appears as Maria, so many in fact that the Christians keep getting them confused with each other. Mordechai is derived from Marduk, the name of a pagan deity. Obviously no one still worships Marduk, and most people have never heard of him. Esther itself is a Persian (Indo-European)name with a ‘star’ meaning. Her shem kodesh was Hadassah with a plant meaning.
Jews have been using a shem kodesh with a shem kinnui at least since Hellenistic times. That has led to some strange names from our perspective. For example, it was not unusual for medieval Jewish merchants in Muslim countries to use the name Mohammed as a shem kinnui when conducting business. Today of course no Jew would use that name. One can’t even name a children’s teddy bear Mohammed without causing an hysterical reaction. In medieval France men named Baruch used the name Benedict (like Ratzinger), since the two names mean the same thing. Our word ‘bentch’ as in ‘bentch licht’ comes from the same root as benediction.
It is only recently that frum Jews in North America have isolated themselves sufficiently from the rest of society to find giving only Hebrew, Aramaic, or Yiddish names to their children is workable. Frum children in frum neighborhoods never come across anyone who would find, say, Yerachmiel or Pinchas odd or difficult to pronounce. My grandparents certainly gave themselves English names as soon as they arrived over here. Shlomo Chaim became Solomon, Tzvya-Chaya became Celia Ida, Tzippa became Cecelia, Meir became Meyer, although no one in the family ever used the English names. They were strictly for government and work purposes. My own name is Miriam, just Miriam, no English middle name, no Jewish double name, Miriam for any and all purposes. But my parents, my sister, my aunts and uncles all have English names and Jewish names (Hebrew or Yiddish).
The NYC department of Vital Statistics publishes the top one hundred (plus ties) baby names broken down by race/ethnicity. In terms of frum names this would cover neighborhoods like Williamsburg, Crown Heights, Boro Park, etc. and will give a good idea of popular frum names.
Looking at the non-Hispanic white male list for 2008 and selecting for the obviously frum names we get:
Moshe, Chaim, Menachem, Yehuda, Shimon, Yosef, Mordechai, Yisroel, Shmuel, Shlomo, Yitzchok, Asher, Tzvi, Yaakov, Meir, Yakov, Shulem, Zev, Eliyahu, Mendel, Yechiel, Ariel, Eliezer, Yehoshua, Dovid, Avrohom, Naftali, Ari, Aryeh, Alimelech, Noam, Akiva, Pinchas, Dov, Efraim, Eitan, Hersh, Hershy, Shaya, Shia, Naftuli, Simcha, Hershel, Baruch, Cheskel. Shlome, Yisrael, Binyomin, Ilan, Mendy, Moishe, Zalmen, Binyamin, Boruch, Yoel, Aharon, Gavriel, Nachman, Benzion, Chesky, Lipa, Shimshon, Mordche, Shloma, Shraga.
I left out names like Eli, Levi, David, etc. which could come from any kind of family.
In 2008, the non-Hispanic white girls’ frum names are
Esther, Sarah, Rachel, Chaya, Leah, Miriam, Sara, Chana, Rivka, Faigy, Malka, Malky, Raizy, Devorah, Shaindy, Gitty, Naomi, Rivky, Baila, Chava, Shira, Dina, Hindy,Noa, Talia, Yitty, Nechama, Goldy, Rochel, Blimy, Bracha, Blima, Yocheved, Perel, Pessie, Shoshana, Yehudis, Yael, Ahuva, Chany, Esty, Sima, Tamar, Brucha, Mirel, Raizel, Zissy, Acital, Lea, Rifky, Shifra, Batsheva, Bruchy, Devora, Elizheva, Fraidy, Avigail, Faiga, Idy, Liba, Ruth, Zippora, Zipporah, Breindy, Etty, Frady, Hadassah, Menucha, Freida, Gittel, Michal, Miri, Rifka, Rivkah, Ruchy, Shaina, Chavy, Fraida, Tehila, Zahava.
For the girls I had to make more judgment calls, like whether a particular spelling was more likely to be Muslim than frum, and whether Suri was a form of Sarah or named after the celebrity baby.
This certainly gives a good idea of which names are popular in NYC frum families. Anyone who is interested can scan the list for themselves. One thing the list makes very clear: frum Jews make up a very substantial percentage of NYC’s non-Hispanic white population.