What’s in a name? Lots. So much depends upon the collection of letters that you append to a child for the rest of his or her life. Every person has a name that his parents give to him. (Shakespeare, William Carlos Williams and Zelda in one post…nice, huh?)

In the event that after reading Laya’s post from yesterday you still somehow decide to go ahead and procreate, you’ll be glad to know that a group of Israeli rabbis have put together a list of names that you should never name your child (reported in Newsday).

Uttering the name Ariel is problematic because it could beckon an angel namesake instead, drawing down his wrath, they caution. Omri — the name of an evil biblical king — should be taboo because of the highly negative connotation. And naming children after dismantled Gaza settlements, like Katif, is another bad idea, they say, because of the controversy involved, they say. Jewish settlers, predominantly religious unsuccessfully opposed the withdrawal.

(UPDATE, NOVEMBER 10: Reports of this list are greatly exaggerated; however, Omri is still forbidden. Props to PurimHero for pointing it out.)

The worst of the bans? “Israel’s Interior Ministry has barred the names God, Hitler and Bin Laden from being registered in its population files, said Sabine Haddad, a spokeswoman for the Census Bureau.”

I couldn’t find the list of “forbidden names” on the website because the Hebrew font made my eyes hurt. But maybe someone who speaks Hebrew more regularly than I can find it for us. In the interim, here’s your consolation prize, a list of names and what they mean (in Hebrew).

Plus, your scrolling bonus for all you single guys and gals. Eager to have yourself a little pisher? You’ll need a sperm donor egg donor soulmate first, so stop by their site to pray for your perfect woman or perfect man.

Meantime, I’m bummed. I was really looking forward to naming my children Sichon, Og, Rachab and Ketura. Either that, or Doodoo, Osnat, Peeknee and Yurine. Why not Kedarlaomer? Because I couldn’t saddle even a theoretical child with Kedarlaomer Kustanowitz. Even with the mellifluous appeal of alliteration, that’s just not fair.

About the author

Esther Kustanowitz

For more posts by Esther, see EstherK.com, MyUrbanKvetch.com and JDatersAnonymous.com.


  • I thought the most interesting prohibition was of names that contained “el” as a prefix or suffix. Which eliminates a huge chunk of classic Hebrew first names.

    So I guess we can expect to see soon, at least among the few people in Israel who listen to rabbinic pronouncements of dubious credibility, a lot of names like “Mikha’kel,” “Keliyahu,” “Danikel,” and, my personal favorite, “Yokel.”

    Anybody else think Israeli rabbis maybe have too much free time on their hands?

  • Dorks! Here’s a much better list to use as a rule of thumb, what NOT to name yuor kid in Hebrew. (All the following are common names in Israel, but sound really bad in English).


    Where were you when Rabin was shot? See our in depth report here

  • I dunno, I feel like Jameel doesn’t really care about us or the discussion. Maybe I’m being a little sensitive.

  • My sister-in-law sometimes likes to sing “Keli-ka-ku Hanavi.” You know, because let’s face it: chumras are fun.

  • Yeah Dudu has always kind of made me cringe. I mean, what American Jew could put themselves thru such pain? (a particular famous singer comes to mind).

  • HA!! It all makes sense now…i was just scuba diving in eilat and the instructor just totally sucked….. his name…. Omri

  • Michael, they don’t have nearly enough time on their hands; otherwise they’d have translated the names and their meanings. There’s an idea for anyone with too much time on their hands. Come on, do non hebrew speakers a favor.

  • Well I guess the Sharon family is screwed. They’ve got Ariel and Omri.

    And let me add another name to JR’s list: Dror. My wife tells me that when she was a kid, they used to make fun of a kid with that name because of its English cognate.

  • I have a Hebrew name book which is great overall. However, it does have a few bizarre entries and a few bizarre meanings. My personal favorite is the name listed as Dolfin (spelled out in both Hebrew and English in the book with the pronunciation “dole-feen”). It’s glorious meaning: “A large, water-dwelling mammal.” Well duh.

  • Zero spirituality here.

    The original article scooping this ancient knowledge on nrg lists more ‘forbidden names’: http://www.nrg.co.il/online/11/ART1/002/345.html

    No one will disagree that a name is pretty important superficially, but the kaballah also knows that the name given to a baby by his parents (or what entity named their kids ‘themiddle’ and ‘ck’, I hope they have pronouncable middle names) actually affect the kid internally, his mission on earth, and how he develops.

  • D.B., you’re sure right on that one. Too bad that was the last name of a famous Zionist and his rather large family…there are streets named after him in Israel and everything…

    And you can bet the American family pronounces it “PYNZ.”

  • yea yea old joke. the most famous talk show host in Israel is Guy Pines, and every time a celebrity hears it it’s a big joke. it is rather funny though.