Tuesday, November 29, 2011

An Assortment of Hebrew Girl Names

(Are you looking for our Twebrew School Treats about the Hebrew alphabet or our Hebrew Instructional videos? Click here for a directory!)

Click here to hear Kayla pronounced
Click here to hear Gahv’ree’ayl and Gahv’ree’ay’lah pronounced
Click here to hear Mee’cha’eyl pronounced
Click here to hear Ah’lee’yah pronounced
Click here to hear Ah’mahl’yah pronounced

In the 2011 list of favorite girl names compiled by the United States Social Security Administration, there are several names that have a connection to Hebrew (or Yiddish) but are not rooted in Jewish history. Here is a brief/explanation of some of these names:

Kayla, which ranks 49th on the list of names, has several possible origins. As a Jewish girls name, it is the Yiddish variation of the Hebrew Kelila, meaning a “crown of laurels.” It is also a feminine form of the masculine kalil (which means “complete,” and might be the source of Superman’s real name). It is interesting to note that Kayla is the name of one of the languages of the Beta Israel (Jews from Ethiopia).

Gabriela/Gabrielle and Makayla are both legitimate Hebrew names rooted in tradition. However, these names do not exist in the feminine form. Gabriela and Gabrielle are both derivatives of Gabriel, which means “God is my strength.” Gabriel is the name of one of the four archangels. Likewise, Makayla is a feminine version of Michael, another of the archangels. Michael means “Who is like God?”

A fairly new name on the world name scene is Aaliyah. This name may have gained popularity from the late pop singer, Aaliyah, who was not Jewish. The name means “ascent.” This same word is also the term for the act of going up to read the blessings of the Torah in synagogue, as well as the act of moving to Israel.

Amalia (and its derivative Mia) are both linked to the modern Hebrew name which means “Work of God.”

Copyright © 2011 National Jewish Outreach Program. All rights reserved.


  1. can you tell us anything about our names?

    bella (barbara), duvid (david), sima (sondra) and eytahn (ethan)

    bella was named for another bella, duvid for another duvid, sima for samuel (simcha) and eytahn for eva. we know less than nothing.

  2. Through this month long campaign, we covered David http://www.twebrewschool.org/2011/11/hebrew-name-david.html and Ethan (Eitan) http://www.twebrewschool.org/2011/11/hebrew-name-ethan.html

    Please send an email to jewishtreats@njop.org with the request for bella and sima so that I can email you information about those names directly (although I may need a day or two to give you a complete response).

  3. Angelfish,

    Surprisingly, Rebecca was not on the top list, but I am hoping to cover Rebecca in the near future.

  4. The article got it right, but the transliteration on the graphic should be "Michaela". That transliteration would have the name ending in a lamed.

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