Named: Announcing My Hebrew Name

26 Sep


Thank you to everyone who voted at the end of my Naming Names: Namely, My Hebrew Name post a few weeks back. As a quick reminder, I described the naming practices of various cultures and explained how I was going about choosing a Hebrew name for myself.

Just as, in Genesis, Jacob takes on a new Hebrew name after a spiritually transformative experience, so too do converts to Judaism. After his name changes to Israel, he still is often referred to as Jacob. I, too, will go forward with both my name, Kate, as well as my Hebrew name(s). A Hebrew name is typically only used at times of Jewish significance in life (being called to the Torah, marriage, etc).

A Hebrew name is an important part of your Jewish identity. The Hebrew name you choose is said to capture your bond to the Jewish people.

In that previous post, I narrowed down my Hebrew name options to these: Zakiah (pure), Kochava (star), Kefira (young lioness), Keshet (rainbow), Kelila (crown or laurels), Leilah (night), some combination thereof, or some other name(s) entirely.

Today I’d like to share the results (since that’s fun and kind of interesting) and also announce the name I’ve selected (since it might not be what you’re expecting).

Alright. Drumroll please…

The Results:

With 37 votes (32%), Leilah was the clear winner. With 24 votes (21%) Zakiah was the runner up, followed by Kefira (14%), Keshet (13%), Kelila (10%), Other (8%) and Kochava (2%).

Notable suggestions in the “Other” category include: Leilah Kochava, Liora, Keren, Dana, Temima, Zakiah Kochava, Lael and Tamara.

I chose….

wait for it…wait for it…

Kefira Leilah


All of the above mentioned names are lovely, including those that were suggested, but when I played around with the options in my mind the decision was clear.

Actually, when I first began the process of choosing a Hebrew name, I was drawn to Kelila first. It starts with the letter K, and to paraphrase a section of my previous post, the meaning of the name had significance for me since I am a runner and It reminds me of a marathon winner who is awarded a laurel crown. Significance could be ascribed to the name.

But, I don’t know, as hard as it is to divorce my identity from the things I like to do, or what I do for a living, maybe one’s chosen name should not be so wrapped up in something as peripheral as a hobby/exercise activity. Maybe it’s just me.

I chose Kefira because I’ve been told (and have come to think of myself) as unassuming. On the surface, to people who don’t know me well, I look professional and put together, but I am petite and young-looking. A lion cub could be categorized similarly. Cute. Small. Fuzzy. Harmless. Unassuming. In reality, and as the people who have gotten to know me well (family, friends, a few colleagues) will attest, I am forthright. A team leader. Persuasive. Determined. Not to belabor the analogy, but clearly a young lioness is capable of a lot more might than what appears on the surface. They’re ferocious. Intense. Proud.

I suppose you could even say I am pursuing Judaism with ferocity. And always have. Kefira fits. It’s strong and reminds me of what the name Kate means to me (or at least meant to me when I became Kate at age eight).

I also knew almost right away that I wanted two Hebrew names. Two is impressive. Steve’s family members each were given two Hebrew names. Since I’m joining the family, I want two too.


The second name that stood out to me as I started looking into Hebrew names was Leilah. In fact, for a while, Steve, who sometimes spontaneously breaks into improvisational songs about our cat, TV shows, the annoying people who live in our neighborhood, or other random yet topical occurrences, would sing to me the phrase “Hey there, Kate-Leilah…” to the tune of “Hey There Delilia” by The Plain White Tees.

I know what they say about going with your gut and first instincts and everything, but…Kelila Leilah? A few too many “L” sounds for me.

Leilah, well, I just love that name. It’s the kind of name I would give to a real person. There are no children on the horizon, so Leilah is all mine. It’s beautiful, peaceful (a nice contrast to Kefira) and the double meaning for me is that I am officially coming to Judaism later on in my life.

We all know that Shakespeare famously wrote in Romeo and Juliet, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Well, no offense to Shakespeare, but I think an argument can be made for the fact that the names of things do in fact matter. The name Kefira Leilah means something more to me and my Jewish identity and future than any of the other names ever could.

With just weeks to go before my conversion (did you notice the new countdown at the upper right?) I’ve decided to become Kefira Leilah bat Avraham v’ Sarah.

By the way, I have a newfound respect for those of you who have chosen names (and Hebrew names) for your children or for yourselves. The myriad choices don’t make it easy! Sheesh!


{image credits: 1. Ariel/Helvetica cartoon from, 2. Kefira name card from 3. Leilah name card from}

10 Responses to “Named: Announcing My Hebrew Name”

  1. יונתן קסר September 26, 2013 at 10:22 pm #

    Love your choice. Enjoy it.🙂

  2. Lisa Micley September 30, 2013 at 5:35 pm #

    Your Hebrew names are beautiful. I feel your excitement about these names and your upcoming conversion and wish you much happiness as you join the Jewish people.

  3. Josh October 6, 2013 at 11:43 am #

    Kefira also means heresy.

    • Convert Confidential October 6, 2013 at 2:23 pm #

      Thanks for sharing this link–I hadn’t seen this before. It’s a good thing I’m a Reform Jew!

  4. The Shiksa October 7, 2013 at 1:38 pm #

    I think about my future Hebrew name daily! Love that one that you have chosen.

  5. The Shiksa October 7, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

    i’m having a super tough time figuring it out honestly. How did you approach it?


  1. Study Session: Beit Din 101 | Convert Confidential - October 4, 2013

    […] See: Naming Names: Namely, My Hebrew Name and Named: Announcing My Hebrew Name […]

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