February 22, 2020

13 Jewish grandparent names that are due for a comeback

Media outlets often write about trending Jewish baby names, but what about more retro names that are due to come back in style?

Parents-to-be may not want to go with what’s popular right now and instead choose something ahead of the curve, by which we mean way behind. Think about all of these favorite names from the past — names that probably sound familiar, as you most likely have uncles and grandparents with them.

Here is a baker’s dozen to consider. Bubbe would approve:

1. Hyman. A version of Chaim, this is a male name in Hebrew that means “life.”

2. Meir. A Hebrew male name, it means “one who illuminates.” (Famous Jews: Israeli writer Meir Shalev and Israeli singer-songwriter Meir Ariel)

3. Myron. Although Myron is actually Greek, many first-generation Jewish-American men were given the name. It means “fragrant, an aromatic shrub, myrrh.” (Famous Jews: animator Myron Waldman, who worked on Betty Boop, Popeye, Superman and Casper the Friendly Ghost; and comedian Myron Cohen)

4. Morton/Morty. Similar to Myron in that it’s not a Hebrew or Yiddish name, but in English, it commonly was used for Jewish immigrants. It means “town near the moor.” (Famous Jew: Morty Seinfeld, Jerry Seinfeld’s TV father on “Seinfeld,” played by Barney Martin)

5. Irving. Another name used by Jewish immigrants and their children, this name is Scottish and means “green river, sea friend.” Feel free to use Irv for short. (Famous Jews: author and screenwriter Irving Wallace, writer Irving Stone and legendary songwriter Irving Berlin.)

6. Harold. This non-Jewish name used by Jewish people is Scandinavian and means “army ruler.” Hal or Harry are fun nicknames. (Famous Jews: actor, writer and director Harold Ramis, of “Ghostbusters” and “Animal House” fame, and Beat poet Harold Norse.)

7. Melvin. Melvin, an English name commonly used by Jews, means “council protector.” Mel, anyone? (Famous Jews: physicist Melvin Schwartz, biochemist Melvin Calvin, and filmmaker, comedian and actor Mel Brooks)

8. Seymour. Seymour, a non-Jewish name also commonly used by Jews, is English and means “marshy land near the sea.” (Famous Jews: theologian Seymour Siegel, and political scientist and sociologist Seymour Martin Lipset)

9. Lucille. A female non-Jewish name, Lucille is French and means “light.” Who doesn’t want to be called Lucy? (Famous Jews: Actress and comedian Maya Rudolph’s daughter is named Lucille. Alas, actress Lucille Ball was not Jewish, although her second husband was.)

10. Rhoda. This female non-Jewish name is Greek and means “rose.” (Famous Jews: philanthropists Rhoda Haas Goldman and Rhoda Pritzker; and Rhoda Morgenstern, the TV character played by Valerie Harper)

11. Gertrude. Gertrude, a non-Jewish name for girls also commonly used by Jews, is German and means “strength of a spear.” Trudy is a great nickname. (Famous Jews: writer Gertrude Stein and composer Gertrud Rittmann)

12. Shirley. This non-Jewish name typically for girls also commonly is used by Jews. Its English meaning is “bright meadow.” (Famous Jews: sports columnist and reporter Shirley Povich, the rare man with the name)

13. Sheldon. This name is English and means “steep-sided valley.” Shel for short is super cute. (Famous Jews: poet, author and singer-songwriter Shel Silverstein and actor, producer and director Sheldon Leonard)

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