The ten most popular boys’ names include Aaron (Aharon), Adam, Benjamin, Daniel, David, Jonathan (Y’honatan), Joseph, Joseph (Y’hoshua), Michael and Samuel (Sh’mu’el).
The most popular girls’ names include Deborah, Elizabeth (Elisheva), Judith (Y’hudit), Mary (Miriam), Rachel, Rebecca (Fivka), Ruth, Sarah and Susan (Shoshanah).
Children are traditionally named for a relative who has passed away. This is a way of honoring the deceased and keeping his/her spirit alive. Most Jews have a Hebrew name for ritual purposes.
There are really only three surnames that are specifically Jewish in nature: variations of the names Cohen, Levy, and Israel. These names come from tribal ancestry and were recorded by Jewish people. Cohen means priest. Levy comes from the biblical tribe Levi. Israel means the rest of us.
When a child is formally named either at a bris (circumcision) for boys or in a synagogue naming ceremony for girls, it is common practice to explain who the child is named for, why the child was named for that person and what qualities in that person do they hope to see in this child.