Nine Spring-Inspired Hebrew Names

February 20, 2024Crystal Hill

Spring has long been associated with the themes of rebirth, renewal, and new growth. It's also an eventful time of year in the Jewish calendar, with Purim carnivals and Passover seders galore. Whether you're planning to welcome a child into your family, are preparing to choose your own Hebrew name, or just enjoy learning about the meanings and stories that names hold, I hope you'll be inspired by one of these nine names inspired by Purim, Passover, and the renewal of spring. While I know that some families are less inclined to gender names and agree that all names can be a great fit for all genders, I've provided the historical use of the names listed below.

1. Hadassah

Meaning "myrtle," Hadassah was another name that Queen Esther went by before being summoned to the king's court (Esther 2:7). Myrtle is a flowering shrub common in the Mediterranean, North Africa, and the Middle East. Its symbolism fits well with the characterization of Esther: the myrtle flower is associated with (among other things) youth, innocence, fidelity, and love.

Hadassah is also the name of major North American Zionist organization established in 1912 by Henrietta Tzold, whose Hebrew name was Hadassah. The organization's hospitals in Israel are famous for the high quality of care they provide to patients.

The historically feminine name Hadassah connects the bearer to one of the most memorable heroines in our tradition. Using her wit and courage, Hadassah (Esther) saved the Jewish people from annihilation, leading to her name becoming synonymous with hidden strength and bravery.

2. Mordecai

In the biblical Book of Esther, Mordechai is Queen Esther's cousin/uncle/father figure. He is often held up as an example of wisdom, counseling Esther throughout the story, saving the king from an assassination attempt, and finding a way to amend Haman's decree in such a way that Jews were permitted to defend themselves.

The name Mordecai is historically considered masculine and comes with the possibility for several nicknames, including Mordy, Modi, Morrie, or even Kai. Regardless of whether you choose to use any of these nicknames, Mordecai is a great name for someone who has a strong sense of justice, is willing to stand up for their beliefs, and gives great advice.

Some famous Mordecais include Mordecai Kaplan, the founder of Reconstructionist Judaism and Mordecai Waxman, an American rabbi with the Conservative Movement who facilitated interfaith dialogue with the Vatican in the 1980s.

3. Adar

Adar is the month that includes Purim and is associated with joy. The name Adar is a lovely gender-neutral name that means "noble and majestic." What better name to call to mind the story of a queen who saved her people with her courage and, by extension, a holiday that celebrates Jewish survival, courage, and resilience in the face of antisemitism?

4. Batya 

The historically feminine name Batya means "daughter of God," but carries a far deeper story that emphasizes kindness, justice, and the love of a caregiver for the child they raised.

Batya, according to the Talmud, was the name of Pharaoh's daughter who adopted and raised Moses. The Midrashic tradition states that Batya received her name directly from God as a reward for raising Moses as her own son, with God stating, "Moses was not your son, yet you called him your son; you are not My daughter, but I will call you My daughter" (Leviticus Rabbah 1:3).

5. Moses/Moshe

No list of names related to Passover would be complete without Moses. The Torah itself tells us the meaning: "drawn from the water" (Exodus 2:10). Moses is revered in Jewish tradition not only as a great leader, but as "Moshe Rabbeinu," which means "Moses, Our Teacher;" he is considered our greatest prophet.

Moses also shares his name with one of the most prominent Jewish philosophers: Moses ben Maimon, also known as Maimonides or Rambam.

Over the years, the historically masculine name Moses has continued to be associated with wisdom, leadership, and advocacy.

6. Tzipporah

Tzipporah means "bird." In the Torah, Tzipporah was Moses's wife. As Moses is traveling back to Egypt with Tzipporah and their two sons, Moses is confronted by an angel who intends to kill him. While the Torah doesn't record Moses's actions, Tzipporah acts quickly to circumcise their son, which prompts the angel to depart without harming Moses (Exodus 4:25-26).

The name Tzipporah is historically feminine and especially appropriate for someone who is musically inclined or a free spirit. If we add to that the legacy of Tzipporah from the Torah, it becomes a name that denotes quick thinking, practicality, and levelheadedness.

7. Aviv

This name, which literally means "springtime, freshness, and youth," is a great gender-neutral name that calls to mind the joy and potential of spring. This name reminds the bearer to look at the world with youthful wonder, regardless of chronological age, and embrace fresh perspectives.

8. Pesach 

Pesach is not only the name of one of our most important holidays, it's also a custom for some families to name a son born during the week of Passover "Pesach" in honor of the holiday. This name is a great chance to reinforce the values of freedom, empathy, and history that are the tenets of the Passover Seder.

9. Amichai

The name Amichai doesn't appear in the Torah. However, this historically masculine name encompasses the combined themes of spring, Purim, and Passover in its meaning. Amichai means "my people live." Just as spring brings new growth after a period of dormancy, this name reminds us of the vitality of the Jewish people. Just as the Purim story tells of how Mordecai and Esther saved the Jews from annihilation, Amichai reminds us of the times we have faced threats to our existence and still survive to this day. Finally, as Passover marks the beginnings of the Israelites becoming their own people, Amichai reminds us that wherever we are, we continue to be part of the Jewish story and members of the Jewish people.

Hopefully these names have given you some inspiration. Happy spring/Purim/Passover!

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