Israel’s most popular names by decade
The Population and Immigration Authority has revealed for the first time the most common names among Jews in Israel since the establishment of the state, as well as which names dominated the list every decade.
In the 1950s, the first full decade of Israel’s independence, the most popular name for boys was Moshe. This was followed by Yosef, Avraham, David , and Yitzhak. For girls, the most common name were Esther, Rachel, Sarah, Shoshana and Miriam.
In the 1960s, Yosef surmounted Moshe as the most common name for boys. Other names on the list were also Biblical: Avraham, David, Yitzhak, Ya’akov, Shlomo, Shimon and Eliyahu. As for girls’ names, Rachel dethroned Esther, followed by Ronit, Michal, Anat, Iris, Orly, Yael and Miriam, while Sarah plummeted sharply from third to tenth.
In the 1970s, Moshe rose back to the top and David jumped from fourth to second place. Yosef, the most common name the previous decade, settled for the bronze medal this time. In the spirit of the times, three new modern names found their way into the top ten for the first time: Shai, in fourth place, Yaniv, in fifth place, and Oren, in ninth place. As for girls, Michal shot to first place, followed by Keren, Merav, Limor, Liat and Galit. Rachel, which only a decade earlier was in first place, was demoted to the tenth place.
In the 1980s, Moshe retained its place at the summit, while David remained in second place, but the tradition of Biblical names for boys was shattered as Roei suddenly appeared in third place. Elad was another new name to hit the top ten. Among the girls, Michal kept the top spot, while Adi appeared in second place despite never before appearing in the top ten. In third place was Moran, another entirely new name on the list, followed by other names that had never before appeared on it: Hila, Shani, Sivan, Meital, and Shiran.
Moshe finally lost its crown in the 1990s, when it was replaced by Daniel. David remained in second place, while Moshe came in at third place. Two new names became prominent: Or and Matan. A revolution also occurred for girls’ names. Eden occupied the summit, followed by Sapir, with Adi settling for third place.
Daniel stayed in first place in the 2000s. Itay made an impressive leap from 19th place in the 1990s to second place, while Uri captured third place. Yonatan, surprisingly, managed to make the top ten at this time, taking ninth place. Among girls, another revolution occurred: Noa took first place, followed by Shira, Yael, and Tamar. Ronny, in ninth place, and Hanna, at tenth place, gained a foothold in the top ten for the first time.
The current decade is only halfway done, but some trends have already arisen, with the name Itay climbing from second to first place, followed by Uri and Noam, the latter having jumped three places. Daniel fell to fourth place. Yosef, David, Yonatan, Ariel, Moshe and Ido rounded out the top ten. For girls, Shira rose from second place to first place, switching places with Noa. Tamar came in at third place, and Talia was a new entry in fourth place. Rounding out the list in 2013 were Yael, Sarah, Maya, Michal, Noya and Ronny.
The Population and Immigration Ministry said that trends can clearly be seen in the names given to children in Israel – when every decade has at least one name that has a meteoric rise to prominence.
Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (whose name is not included in the top ten), noted that Biblical names have a place of honor in every decade. “The list is proof that the public is emotionally tied to tradition and Biblical names,” he said. “Names like Yaakov, Moshe, Rachel, Rivka and Sarah may not always top the list, but they are always present, just as the tradition has been with us for years and years.”