To ensure your children stay in Israel, give them un-emigratable names!

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?


  1. The first time I heard the name Inbal I immediately imagined the girl being short and chubby. And I feel uncomfortable calling a man 'dudu' to his face...

  2. I actually like Ofer, and I've come to like Inbal too... so I think I've been here too long to say. :)

  3. I loooooooove Shai or ShaY cause I love the Y!
    And I like Moran too, and Gad is now really famous around the French speaking country's because of "Gad Elmaleh" (who comes sometimes in Israel) but for the rest the names are really weird to people who didn't seems to be familiar to Judaism or Israel. PS: Gad Elmaleh is a humorist. ;) PS2: My little nephew's name is Noa without H and is not pronounce like NoaCH unfortunately, it's too bad and too European to my taste, but what can I do, we are goyim for somthing, right? If a little catholic guy will be called NoaCH (or pronounce NoaCH) it will be weird to European people, cause he will definitely be Jewish in they're eyes.

  4. You forgot Yam, Chen, and Carmel

  5. our daughter's name is Elisheva and e call her Shevy. it gets a lot of comments from riends in the states, such as, "will the next one be Corvette (Ford, toyota, etc.)?" Ha-ha you are hilarious, never heard that one before.

    Although I think it would be funny to name one Nissan! lol

  6. love the list- so true! but in addition to your description, im pretty sure nimrod was the name of the king that threw avraham into fire.. i never understood why israelis like this name since he wasnt such a good guy


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