Monday, October 18, 2010

A meshugaas in our community. Why do Jewish parents give their kids weird names?

We have long wondered why so many Jewish parents think it is “cool” to humiliate and discomfit their children by subjecting them to outlandish and peculiar names. And this, despite being Jewish – which gives them twice as many opportunities to find a respectable 'normal' name for their newborn – from the vast array available for Australians and Jews.

Week-after-week birth notices in the AJN include strange, weird, odd, bizarre and sometimes absolutely idiotic names embossed upon the life of a tiny innocent baby who will have to hide, explain or change it at some stage(s) of his/her life. Why are so many parents subjecting their offspring to such an unnecessary burden? Isn't life complicated enough for the young ones? Why add to their issues?

One wonders if and what those parents were drinking or smoking when they came up with the inspiration to tag their child this way.

Here's our message to all new parents: You have a meshugaas for nutty names? Fine. Change your own and that of your spouse. But please, leave the little kids alone!

And what about all those 'androgynous' names, where one cannot make out if the newborn is a male or female!? 

Meanwhile to give you some of idea of the unusual names acquired by the newest members of Melbourne's Jewish community, here's a selection from the most recent edition of the AJN: Sienna, Coco, Winter Star, Hudson, Eden-Eddie (for a girl), Eden Mikey (for a boy).

We invite readers to add their favourite strange names from future and past issues (especially Sydneysiders, as we rarely see that edition of the AJN), via the comments area.

We found that the following article, by one of our favourite journalists, Lawrence Money of The Age, very pertinent to our theme. (BTW, what's a sensible chap like him doing at THAT paper?)

Welcome to the nutty name generation

Lawrence Money  THE AGE

When playing the nutty name game, spare a thought for the one who will carry it for life.

'IS THAT a misspelling or did your parents make a blue?'' I asked Micheal, a waiter at Melbourne's RACV Club. He glanced at his brass name badge and smiled a smile that told of a lifetime of torment. ''Parents,'' he said. ''I think mum must have still been feeling the effects of the anaesthetic.'' Micheal was not sure if his mum wanted ''Michael'' but he's been Micheal for 30 years now, a veritable pioneer of the nutty name generation.

Thirty years ago nutty names were an oddity, now they are almost compulsory. You get your nutty spellings of standard names (Filip, Robburrt, Peetar) and then you get your nutty spellings of nutty names (Gharddio, Wawldogger, Mooneigh). You can only imagine what waiters' name badges will look like when this generational wave comes through.

Look, it's understandable, I guess. Excited first-time parents, enthused by the latest name fad. But they don't appreciate that here is a decision that will stretch on long after they themselves are gone. That poor 50-something Lillbetgh Smith may feel some small animosity at the funeral of her dear papa after half a century of hell and a possible 40 or more to go? (Why, dad, why??)

Years ago as In Black and White columnist on the old afternoon Herald, I found that nutty names were of a different nature. Rather than crazy spelling they were often vocationally weird. For example, the systems manager of the Melbourne Fire Brigade in the early 1980s was a bloke named Bernd Pohl. Mr Oosting was a Dutch-born beekeeper in Tasmania. I came across a bloke named William Clyde Main, a Ringwood sewerage contractor. He was listed in the Yellow Pages as W. C. Main.             [More here]


  1. Lawrence Money is probably of Australia's great columnists and his articles are always an enjoyable read.

    Anyone know if he is ever invited to speak at Jewish functions? And if not, why not?

  2. I couldn't agree with you more. Ever time we read the birth notices in the Jewish News we can't help thinking about the poor kids having such idiotic parents

  3. is this just plain lashon harah, givng a complex to these children that will grow up thinking they'rs normal?

    your just nasty.

    i like the wqy this blog has deteriorated into you just mouthing off at the world. no longer your 'holy' war asgainst the ajn.

    the truth comes out. this is a blog written by an unlearned (see previos blog) , hateful individual.

  4. 1. Giving a child an unconventional names is not limited to Jewish parents.

    2. In the eyes of the wider society, the 'tradional' names that many Jewish parents give their children are unconventional.

    3. Rather an pointing the finger at the parents who are giving their children unconventional names, which really is no one's business except the parents themselves, perhaps some work could be made to educate the community to be more accepting of names they are less familiar with and at the same time educate the children who might bully children with unusual names.

    Some tolerance of diversity would be a start.


    PS. I have nothing nice to say about Lawrence Money, so I'll say nothing.

  5. to anon of 11.20,
    rather than attack this blog for pointing out the nuttiness of dumping kids with stupid names, you should be criticising those parents for subjecting their children to a particularly painful method of 'child abuse'

  6. no Michael , I wouldn't expect you to have anything good to say about Money. But then who DO you have anything nice to say about?

  7. I know Lawrence Money well and is he quite familiar with Jews being a long time member at Cranbourne Golf Club and mixes with Jews all the time.

    Some believe thats where Lawrence got most of his gossip about the Jewish community from , when he ran The Age Gossip column which quite often referred to Melbourne Jews..
    Lawrence doesn't usually talk about Middle East or Jewish politics.

    Michael B.

  8. Just went thru the Melb edition of AJN.
    Here's a selection of pretty unusual names for you

    Zhenya, Dakota זאב, Fox Ellie, Cooper,

  9. Seeing no one else has posted this info here are a few stranger names that appear in the last 2 issues of the Melb AJN

    Netani Harper, Aimee, Tahni, Lia written in Hebrew as ליה- which is either a deliberate or ignorant misspelling of לאה, Maximus Szygmund (!), Hila, ראובנה, Bailey, Addison, Jaguar (!), Johann, Kezia.

    Go figure what the parents were thinking...

  10. Netani is short for Netaniel. Aimee is obviously a cute way of spelling "Ami". She probably has a sister called Ruchama. See the haftora for Bamidbor if you don't get it. Lia is so obviously a Jewish name that I won't bother explaining it. Reuvena is just a feminine form of Reuven. Reu-ben, changed to become an equivalent of Reu-bat. The other ones are probably the secular names of some kedoshim whose real names were lost to us. There are more than a few of those in my family, HYD.

  11. Except for the fact that the Netani here was a GIRL! And misspelling Leah sounds nuts.

    And Reuvena then should've been Reu-bat - no? ---vena is not the same as Bat.

  12. Netaniel means "given to me by G-d". In theory it could be a girl's name as well, but it sounds better ending in a vowel. "Lia" isn't a misspelling of "Leah"; it means "to or for G-d". Think of it as a variant of Ovadyah. As for Reuvena, it wouldn't sound good as Reubat. You can think of it as meaning "See - his daughter!".

    All good Jewish names, just as Jewish as Akiva and Shmaya.

  13. Joe, what's wrong with giving our kids 'normal' traditional names?

    And I think you are overfantasising in saying that Lia means what you write. Just as no doubt Netani's parents didn't dream of your pshetel.

    There are plenty of beautiful names for boys and girls and there is no need for transgenderisation.

  14. Mack, who made those names traditional? And what is wrong with wanting ones child to have a unique name, and not be lost among all the others in her class with the same name? We have a long tradition of adopting names from other languages, from Alexander and Abdullah to Señor Salomon, Bogdana, and Esperanza.

  15. By the way, Bailey is a common Jewish diminutive of Bella.

  16. And "Bella" is Spanish for "beautiful", just as "Sheina" is the Yiddish (that is, German) word for it. Incidentally, do you complain about people with Yiddish names, or is it only English you object to?

  17. From AJN (Melb) this week:

    2 Blakes - one each male/female
    2 Kanes - both males but one משה and the other בצלאל
    2 Natalies – see

  18. A few interesting ones this week (in Melb).
    Stella M
    Tessa Hualing

  19. Stella = Shterna.
    Amaya is a feminine version of Amiel.
    Tessa is obviously a ninth child. If her parents are zocheh to a boy next time he'll probably be called Yudi.

  20. I suppose a first child called be named "Bracha Rishona" and the second "Shaini".

    What about poor Stella's middle name "M"?

  21. Anikin (a boy, if you're wondering.)

  22. You joke about "Shaini", but I know at least one family that named their seventh daughter Batsheva, and their thirteenth child Dina.

  23. This week's Sydney paper has a girl called Paige Nikita!

    Those of us old enough remember that a not too recent Russian dictator was known as
    Nikita Khrushchev

  24. Toby Diesel !

    Thomas Diesel would've made more sense..

  25. There's a beauty in this week's Sydney AJN -
    Tatum Luxe Weinberg..

    Unique? Sure!
    But really what were the parents thinking??

    Who knows..


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