Naming a Child With a Non-Jewish Name


Is there any requirement in Jewish law to name your child a Jewish or Hebrew name? I am pregnant with my first daughter. I want to name her after my grandmother. My grandmother was not Jewish (my mother converted before my parents met). But she was still my grandmother. She was my favorite person I ever knew. I spent more time with her than with my parents when I was growing up because my parents both worked. She made me who I am today. And though she was a devout Christian who attended church every Sunday, she was close to the Jewish community. Almost all her friends were Jews, and her Jewish friends inspired my mother’s conversion, something she was very proud of. She had more exposure in her life to Judaism than her own faith. She understood Jewish laws and traditions well and kept a kosher home so we could all eat there. She was an incredible woman who is very deserving. I think of her as a ger tzedek. The times I had with her were the best times I ever had. Sadly she passed away four years ago and I miss her very much. I want to name a daughter after her and call her by that name. The name she had is not biblical and is very popular among Christians but almost unheard of among Jews. There is no Hebrew equivalent and are no existing Hebrew names that remotely resemble it.



  1. First, please accept my brocha that Hashem bless you that you have an easy pregnancy, a quick and painless birth and that your newborn baby be a constant source of Nachas to you and your husband.

    While I truly understand why you want to name your daughter after your non-Jewish grandmother, I am not sure that it is the best thing to do. Not necessarily for Halachic reasons, but perhaps more for the future benefit of your daughter. From my experience, religious children who have names that are not normative for the society they live in, suffer due to it. Especially when the name is obviously a Christian name. Aside from the more practical dimension of your daughter’s name, there is also the Kabbalistic concept that the name that a person receives can define his very essence. That is one of the reasons why the custom to name children after Tzaddikim is so prevalent.

    Best wishes from the Team

  2. I discussed this with my husband last night. We obviously want to give our daughter a Hebrew name too. My grandmother’s name was Virginia, and she was better known as Ginny. To me, she was known as Bubbe, even though she wasn’t Jewish. We’ve been trying to figure out what Hebrew girls name sounds closest to Virginia or Ginny. In my family, we have no Hebrew names to name after. My ancestry is not Jewish because my mother converted. My husband is a Baal teshuva from a family of secular Jews that never used Hebrew names. We have talked about making Virginia her English name and also giving her a Hebrew name. I cannot see myself failing to honor the memory of my beloved grandmother.

  3. The name Virginia originates from the word chaste. The word in Hebrew is Betula which are the same letters as the name Batya which means the daughter of Hashem. Perhaps, it could be a possible name to think about.

    Best wishes from the Team