By Maddie Albert
(Kveller) – At last, we’ve made it to 2021. Huzzah! And with a brand new calendar year comes a fresh edition of Kveller’s annual list of top Jewish baby names.
As in previous years, we dug deep into naming data, websites like NameBerry and BabyCenter, and cultural trends in order to make our projections for the most popular Jewish baby names of 2021. (During our research, we learned many interesting things, including that many non-Jews are honoring the Jewish tradition of naming their baby after someone who died; in the past year, for example, both Breonna and Ruth have gained popularity.)
While a new year may not solve all of our problems, here’s hoping the strength and fortitude we found in 2020 will propel us all forward in positive directions this year. So if you’re ready for some fresh beginnings, check out our list of 23 trending names for 2021.
Of course, this list is just the tip of the iceberg. If you’re expecting a baby this year — and if you are, mazel tov! — be sure to check out Kveller’s baby name bank for more inspo.
Asher — Asher means “affirmation” in Hebrew. Perhaps because this name is a positive reminder, it was one of the top names of 2020 — and its popularity continues to rise.
Eliel — Meaning “my God” in Hebrew, this familiar-yet-different Jewish name is on the up-and-up.
Elijah — Elijah, a Hebrew name that means “the Lord is my God,” also honors the great prophet whose return is considered a harbinger of the messiah. Elijah was the 5th most popular boy’s name of 2020 — and since we’re all hoping for better times on the horizon, we expect Elijah’s popularity will endure.
Gideon — Gideon, whose Hebrew origins mean “mighty warrior,” honors one of the judges of Israel of the same name. Along with a host of lesser-known biblical names, its popularity is rapidly increasing.
Herzl — Given the rising trend of place-based names, the name Herzl honors the father of modern Zionism — Theodore Herzl — and also the city in Israel, Herzliya, which is named after him.
Jacob — A truly timeless name, Jacob means “to follow” and honors the biblical patriarch and Isaac’s son. There have been many famous Jewish Jacobs throughout history, but at the forefront of our mind is Jake Gyllenhaal, as he recently stole our hearts with a seductive and silly ad for a T-shirt from Russ & Daughters deli.
Levi — Levi means “accompanying” in Hebrew. It is the name of Jacob and Leah’s third son, and one of the 12 tribes of Israel. While you may know the name best as your favorite jeans, we’re certain you will start to know many boys in the coming years by this name.
Nathan — Consistent with the trend of city- and place-based names, Nathan is named for Netanya, a city in Israel. Nathan means “give” in Hebrew, and also honors the prophet from the ages of King David and King Solomon.
Zion — Zion honors the birthplace of Jerusalem and Israel, as well as the movement for a Jewish state. It also happened to be a trending name in 2020.
Amado/Amada — This Ladino name means “beloved.” The Americanized version, the girl’s name Amoura, is on a rapid rise — with good reason, as we all need a little more TLC in these trying times. The Hebrew version of this name is Ahava.
Ariel — Ariel means “lion of God” in Hebrew, and it’s a classic for a reason.
Aviv — Meaning “spring” in Hebrew, this name is a nod to the Israeli cultural capital, Tel Aviv.
Sharon — This name was extremely popular in the 1970s and, like flared jeans, it’s due for a comeback! This unisex name is consistent with the place names trend, as it means “coastal plain of Israel.”
Ava — Ava means “life” in Hebrew. This name also honors national treasure and filmmaker Ava DuVernay, whose work has become even more relevant as Americans renew their commitment to the Movement for Black Lives.
Eliana — With Hebrew origins meaning “my God has answered,” this girl’s name is one to watch! There are many lovely variations of this Jewish name, including Iliana, Elana, and Ilana.
Hannah — A Hebrew name meaning “compassionate or gracious,” these lovely characteristics are important qualities during a pandemic — and always.
Lila/Layla — This Hebrew name means “night” in Hebrew. As so many of us want to say “goodnight” or lila tov to the dumpster fire that was 2020, we can’t think of a better name for a baby born in 2021.
Maya — Maya is a name with Aramaic and Hindu origins that means “spring or brook.” This name also honors comedian and Jewish mom Maya Rudolph — who reprised her role as Kamala Harris on Saturday Night Live during this election cycle, and we expect to see more of her during the next four years.
Mia — Mia has many origins, but it’s also a shortened version of the Hebrew name Miram, which means “rising water.” As a top 10 name from last year, we imagine this short and sweet name will continue to be a significant presence in 2021.
Ruth — In Jewish tradition of naming your child after a loved one who has passed away, the name Ruth honors the beloved Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died on Rosh Hashanah 2020. This name is gaining traction even outside of Jewish communities, as so many people want to commemorate this courageous icon. Ruth is also a name with Hebrew origins meaning “friendship” and honors the biblical Ruth, the first convert to Judaism.