Basically everyone in Israel has family members living in the US. (Israelis also believe that the US is approximately the size of, say, Jordan, when in fact even Jordan is smaller than my home state of Pennsylvania. "Oh, you come from Pennsylvania? My brother-in-law's cousin lives in Montana! That's close by, right?") To prevent our hypothetical future kids from joining this reverse exodus, my husband and I have come up with a brilliant idea: give them names that will be horribly embarrassing anywhere outside Israel.
Some of our favorites (these are all actually common Israeli names):
In Hebrew: pretty girl's name that comes from the tanach (Yosef's wife)
In English: gray matter that comes of nose when one sneezes
In Hebrew: pretty girl's name related to the ringer of a bell
In English: sounds like a painful medical condition
In Hebrew: nickname for guy's name starting with "d," just as "Bibi" is nickname for Benyamin Netanyahu
In English: sure to get child beaten up in kindergarten
In Hebrew: girl's name that comes from a pretty flower that blooms in the spring (see my wildflower pictures below)
In English: self-explanatory
In Hebrew: nice macho guy's name (possibly short for Avishai or another biblical name)
In English: would be especially embarrassing to an already shy person. ("Tal" is another name that might keep son in Israel if he's short.)
In Hebrew: girl's name meaning grace, pleasantness
In English: once readers understand that daughter is not Chinese and get past the pronunciation of chet, the hen jokes begin... (I also think it might not be so easy for a guy to be named "Dov," despite the fact that this is a manly name based on the word for "bear.") Right up there is the girl's name "Segal."
In Hebrew: nice boy's name meaning prophet
In English: I'll admit that this name sounds fine to me in English, but when one of my Brit friends gave this name to her son, her parents were shocked she would name him "oh-dead"
In Hebrew: common nickname for "Pinchas."
In English: er, right.
In Hebrew: evokes delicate waving of Dead Sea coral
In English: sounds like should be name of character in "Hagar the Horrible" (and I'm not talking about the biblical Hagar, another undesirable name)
In Hebrew: girl's name either based on Bible or on the name for a date palm
In English: might give people wrong impression
In Hebrew: nice, humble Biblical name
In English: sure to blow expectations out of proportion
In Hebrew: descendent of Noah
In English: means "idiot" and will result in too many Green Day jokes
In Hebrew: based on another name for Mt. Hermon
In English: may cause people to think you have an attitude problem
In Hebrew: pretty girl's name
In English: sounds like lyric from Bob Marley song
In Hebrew: Biblical guy's name
In English: sounds like a bodily fluid or character from a Charles Dickens novel
Of course, it's possibly for Israelis to turn unfortunate names into selling points. I mean, that model named Bar doesn't seem to be doing too badly. And once American celebrities realize they aren't being pranked, they tend to open up to our entertainment show host Guy Pines (pronounce that last name phonetically... it doesn't rhyme with "shines." If only we had that last name, we could definitely insure our children wouldn't make "yerida" to America without thinking their decision over carefully!).
There are probably a lot of American names that don't translate well into Hebrew-- any guy named "Noah" who doesn't want to pronounce his name "Noach" will find Israelis think he's female. Are there any American names Israelis think are especially funny?
Did I miss any fabulous yeridah-proof Israeli names?
Ali Abunimah, Expert On Mental Illness
3 hours ago