Popular Names For Boys And Girls In Israel Show Surprising Adherence To Tradition, But Also A Willingness To Change

People’s names in Israel are still dominated by the Patriarchs and the Matriarchs, but a bit less so with every passing year

Children are playing in Be’er Sheva with newly constructed housing for reptriants in the background. 1950’s Israel
Copyright: Benno Rothenberg [Public domain]

While vital statistics are published in Israel on the eve of the Jewish New Year in September, non-vital ones are often published on the eve of the “secular” new year, a time that is now upon us, which is why we can now report on the most popular names for both men and women in Israel.

Most men in Israel ( 95,653 ) bear the name of Josef (Hebrew: Yosef, Arabic: Yousuf), from whom descend the now lost ten tribes of Israel. In second place is Muhammad with 90,000, in third David with 80,000, and in fourth Moses (Moshe) with 70,000 followed by Abraham (Avraham), Jacob (Yaakov), Isaac (Itzhak), Daniel, Michael, and Ahmad.

Among Jewish boys born in the last decade, the first place goes to Noam, followed by Ori, David, Yosef, Eitan, Itay, Ariel, Daniel, Yehonathan, and finally Moshe.

For women, Sarah is in the lead with 61,595, followed by Rachel, Miryam, and Esther. In the fifth place is Yael, with 45,239 Israeli women bearing that name. These are followed by Michal, Rivkah (Rebecca), Tamar, and Noah.

For Jewish girls born in the last decade, the leading names are Noah, Tamar, Maya, Shira, Adele, Talyah, Abigail, Ayalah, and Sarah.

It should be noted that Jewish tradition does not allow for boys or girls to be named after any living relative, but encourages naming them after relatives, including parents and grandparents, who are no longer with us.

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