Mohammed Most Popular Baby Name in Israel; GoT-inspired Name Gains Traction

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Children playing in Tel Aviv's Hayarkon park, Israel, 2019.
Children playing in Tel Aviv's Hayarkon park, Israel, 2019. Credit: Limor Friedman

The most common name for baby boys born in Israel continued to be Mohammed in 2018, with 2,646 newborns given that name, the Central Bureau of Statistics announced on Tuesday, but its popularity is on the decline. Among Jewish boys born last year, the top-ranked moniker was David, which was given to 1,447 babies, followed by Ariel at 1,323.

Among Israeli girls, the name Tamar took the top spot for a third consecutive year, as 1,289 baby girls received the name, with Maya being its runner-up. Noa, which had been the most popular girl's name in 2008 and 2009, dropped to fourth place, after Avigail. Among girls, the list of top-10 names was rounded out by Ayala, Yael, Sara, Adel, Shira and Romi. Among Muslim girls, the most popular name, which was given to 523 baby girls last year, was Maryam.

The girl names fading popularity include Aya, Hila, Yasmin, Liel, Liam, Lihi, Linoy, Liad, Liron, Nofar, Shelly and Shani. Among the names gaining popularity are Ayala, Avigail, Arbel, Ofir, Carmel, Shai-Li, Aviv, Omer, Geffen, Libi, Halel, Haleli, Anel, Anahel, Emanuel, and Tohar.

New and even slightly bizarre names are also on the rise. Sixty-seven girls were named Arya, and it's not completely far-fetched the phenomenon was inspired by the TV show "Game of Thrones." The name Miel, which is entirely foreign to Israeli ears, was given to 20 babies last year. There were six babies named Zosia and five named Suf.

Foreign names that were almost obscure before 2011, including Liv, Lenny, Dean, Yan, Tommy and Dylan, are gaining in popularity from year to year, but so are biblical names such as Aviel, Malakhi, Levi, Adar, Asher, Elimelech, Ovadia and Yishaiya.

In Jerusalem, the most common boys' name was David, while in Tel Aviv it was Eitan. In the southern town of Netivot, surprisingly, it was the nostalgic name Yoram, accounting for two-thirds of all Yorams in the country born last year.

Maya was the popular girls' name in the vast part of the country, taking the top spot in Haifa, Tel Aviv, Be'er Sheva, Ra'anana and Rishon Letzion. The name Adel has struck roots in Or Yehuda, Bat Yam, Dimona, Holon, Sderot and Afula.