Askmoses-A Jews Resource
What is more important, observing the kosher law, or being in tune with the spirit of kosher?
Browse our archives

The Scholar is ready to answer your question. Click the button below to chat now.

Scholar Online:

Type in your question here:

Click the button below to either CHAT LIVE with an AskMoses Scholar now - or - leave a message if no Scholar is currently online.


What is the Jewish name equivalent of...?

by Rabbi Shlomo Chein


Library » Mitzvot » Circumcision | Subscribe | What is RSS?


English/secular names don't have automatic or fixed Jewish equivalents. There are four methods people usually use to choose a Jewish name equivalent.1 They choose:

1) A Jewish name that is the Hebrew translation of their given name. For example, someone with the name Rose would select the name Shoshana, or Wolf would choose the name Zev.2

2) A Jewish name that is the common equivalent for their given name. For example, someone with the name Fanny would choose the name Feiga, or Hyman would select the name Chaim.3

3) A Jewish name that is phonetically similar, or at least begins with the same letter, as their given name. For example, someone with the name Bruce, would select the name Baruch, or Margie would choose the name Malka.4

4) A Jewish name that is the actual Hebrew original for their given name. For example, someone with the name Matthew would choose the name Matisyahu, and Rebecca would select the name Rivkah.5

The above is merely common practice; it is not binding and not required by Jewish law. You can actually choose any Jewish name you want without it being "equivalent" in any way, shape or form, to your given name. Other choices include: the name of a favorite Biblical personality, the name of a departed loved one, a name that seems to fit your personality, or one you just like (even though you don't know why).

See also What is the significance of a Jewish name?


  • 1. Jewish names are usually given at birth (and do not necessarily match a given secular name). But there are various circumstances and reasons why someone would be choosing a Hebrew name based on an equivalent name: an adult who wasn't given a Jewish name at birth, a convert, or parents who want to name their child (at birth) after a deceased relative whose Jewish name they don't know.
  • 2. Since this is the actual translation of the name, many times Rose will discover that she was given a Jewish name at birth and it actually was Shoshana (Hebrew) or Rosa (Yiddish).
  • 3. Since these are otherwise not common names, here too it is very likely that you were actually given that Hebrew name at birth.
  • 4. In this case there is no real connection between the names.
  • 5. Although a translation thereof, Matthew on its own is not really a Jewish name, so Matthew should formally receive the Jewish name: Matisyahu.


Please email me when new comments are posted (you must be  logged in).


Life Cycle » Birth » Jewish names
Life Cycle » Circumcision » Jewish names

Second of the Jewish Matriarchs. Wife of the Patriarch Isaac, and father of Jacob. b. 1675 BCE, d. 1553 BCE.