Religion & Jewish Life

13 Jewish grandparent names that are due for a comeback

(Kveller via JTA) — Kveller often writes 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.

So we rounded up some of our favorite names from the past – names that probably sound familiar, as you probably have uncles and grandparents with them.

Here’s a baker’s dozen:

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

2. Meir. Meir is a Hebrew male name meaning “one who illuminates.”

Famous Jews:
Meir Shalev, Meir Ariel

3. Myron. While Myron is actually Greek, many first generation Jewish men were given the name. It means “fragrant, an aromatic shrub, myrrh.”

Famous Jews:
Myron Waldman, Myron Cohen

4. Morton/Morty. Similar to Myron in that it’s not a Hebrew or Yiddish name, but in English, it was commonly 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. Irving, another name used by Jewish immigrants and first generations, is Scottish and means “green river, sea friend.” Feel free to use Irv for short.

Famous Jews: Irving Wallace, Irving Stone, Irving Berlin

6. Harold. Harold, another non-Jewish name used by Jewish people, is Scandinavian and means “army ruler.” Hal or Harry are fun nicknames.

Famous Jews:
Harold Ramis, Harold Norse

7. Melvin. Melvin, a non-Jewish name also commonly used by Jews, is English and means “council protector.” Mel, anyone?

Famous Jews: Melvin Schwartz, Melvin Rosen, Melvin Calvin, 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: Seymour Siegel, Seymour Melman, Seymour Martin Lipset

9. Lucille. Lucille, a female non-Jewish name also commonly used by Jews, is French and means “light.” Who doesn’t want to be called Lucy?

Famous Jews: Maya Rudolph’s daughter Lucille, alas Lucille Ball is not Jewish (though her second husband was)

10. Rhoda. Rhoda, a female non-Jewish name also commonly used by Jews, is Greek and means “rose.”

Famous Jews:
Rhoda Haas Goldman, Rhoda Pritzker, Rhoda Morgenstern (TV character played by Valerie Harper)

10. Esther. Esther is a Hebrew girls name meaning “star.” Queen Esther, the Jewish wife of the King of Persia, saved the Jews in the Purim story.

11. Gertrude. Gertrude, a non-Jewish name for girls also commonly used by Jews, is German meaning “strength of a spear.” Trudy is a great nickname.

Famous Jews:
Gertrude Stein, Gertrud Rittmann

12. Shirley. Shirley, a non-Jewish name typically for girls also commonly used by Jews, is English meaning “bright meadow.”

Famous Jews: Shirley Povich (the rare man with the name)

13. Sheldon. Sheldon, a non-Jewish name also commonly used by Jews, is English meaning “steep-sided valley.” Shel for short is super cute.

Famous Jews:
Shel Silverstein, Sheldon Leonard

(Joanna C. Valente is the staff writer at Kveller. Joanna is the author of Sirs & MadamsThe Gods Are Dead, Xenos, and Marys of the Sea. She received a master’s degree in fine arts from Sarah Lawrence College. You can follow @joannasaid on Twitter, @joannacvalente on Instagram, or email at

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