Yiddish Names/English Names/Hebrew Names

Question

Dear Rabbi,
If some people have a Yiddish rather than a Hebrew name that is used for ritual purposes (e.g. getting an aliya, praying for the sick), can one have an English name for ritual use? What makes it so a Yiddish name can be used, but no one uses English names ritually? And what if someone only has an English name, but none in Hebrew or Yiddish? Can that person (or their son) receive an aliya under an English name?

, , 5 months

Answers

  1. I am not sure why it is that Yiddish names became an acceptable rather than using traditional Hebrew names, but, the name that a person uses for religious and ritual ceremonies is normally the one they were given at their Bris (if they are male) or at the Jewish naming ceremony (if they are female).

    In truth, if a person does not know their Hebrew name they can be called up to the Torah using their given (secular) name. Can a person choose to use their secular name instead of their Hebrew name? In theory, they can, although I do not know of any Synagogue that would be prepared to do so. Why is that? Because each Synagogue has a policy of using only Hebrew names unless there is an overwhelming reason not to.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team