AMSTERDAM (JTA) — As he lists the names of his abounding grandchildren, Joop van Ooijen recites what sounds like a cycle alarm at a archetypal Israeli classroom.
Yair, Yael, Lael, Odelia, Netanya, Yoaz and Shilon are some of his grandkids with avant-garde names, advantaged by the Israeli average class. Baruch, Moshe, Elisheva and Yehuda are amid the classics, accepted with religious Jewish parents all over the world.
But neither the Van Ooijens nor their 16 accouchement are Jewish.
They are a Protestant Christian ancestors in a baby boondocks in the Netherlands, which is amid a scattering of places in Europe area it’s accepted for non-Jews to accept names that are broadly perceived as actuality audibly Jewish.
“We’re a adherent ancestors and the Bible is consistently present in our lives, which agency Judaism is consistently present in our lives and we called our accouchement to reflect that,” said Joop van Ooijen, a 69-year-old chemicals retailer.
In accession to universally-popular biblical names like Simon, David, Ruth and Esther, distinctly-Jewish biblical names assume to be decidedly accepted in adherent Christian circles in the Netherlands.
But abounding Dutch parents who aren’t religious additionally accord their accouchement Jewish-sounding names because they apperceive the Bible as allotment of Dutch ancestry and are fatigued to the short, absolute sounds of Hebrew names. Some parents say those sounds resemble to Dutch ones.
“We didn’t appetite commodity adopted and English-sounding, but we additionally capital a austere name that carries a assertive weight for back the adolescent grows up,” said Jantine Vonk, a 35-year-old mother of two, Aron and Thirza, from the south of the Netherlands.
Vonk added that she believes that abounding Jewish and non-Jewish Dutch parents share, for assorted cultural reasons, a alternative for short, able names with a audible arena like Boaz and Thirza as against to added angled names such as Ryan and Olivia.
Hagar Jobse, a 34-year-old announcer from Amsterdam who grew up in a civil family, got her name because her parents “just begin it pretty,” she told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. In Dutch, it is arresting Hakhar, application a palatal accordant that exists in Hebrew (though not in the name Hagar) and in Dutch.
Jobse says her name elicits mostly analytical and absolute reactions because it’s alien in the Netherlands. Arabs admit it from Hajar, the Arabic-language accentuation of the name of that biblical figure. “And Spanish speakers accept some difficulties with it,” she observed.
She’s never accomplished a abrogating acknowledgment to her name, Jobse said.
But the Van Ooijens have, Joop said.
“There’s a lot of antisemitism in the academy system, unfortunately,” he told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “Our accouchement with Jewish names got pestered, some alike afraid for it.” Moshe Van Ooijen abnormally accomplished that, his ancestor said, but Arie, Boaz and Sifra additionally encountered some, he added.
Contacted by JTA, Moshe, who is in his thirties, initially agreed to be interviewed for this commodity but attempts to ability him accept been unsuccessful.
His ancestors with archetypal Dutch names — Gerda, Johan, Cornelis and Andreas — did not acquaintance antisemitic bullying, their ancestor said. The acceptance of biblical names has risen decidedly back the 1980s, according to the Meertens analysis convention on association and linguistics.
Thirza, for example, was around absent in the 1950s. But from 1990 onwards, at atomic 20 babies were called Thirza, with the aiguille occurring in 2000 with about 120 Thirzas. There were about 100 in 2014 called Thirza, a amount from the Book of Numbers from a access ambidextrous with back daughters accede the backing of their backward father. (Thirza is additionally the name of a Canaanite city.)
With boys, the aforementioned trend is arresting in Levi, a name that about no one accustomed in 1980. In 2014, there were at atomic 8,000 Levis in the Netherlands, with hundreds accepting it anniversary year (2016 had about 700 Levis, best of them men but additionally a few women.)
One of them is Levi Verschoof, a 26-year-old man from Noordwijk, a littoral burghal anchored about 30 afar southwest of Amsterdam. Verschoof, who works for a abbey group, says he brand his name partly because of its affection to Judaism.
“When I anticipate of Judaism and Jewish people, I get a absolute feeling, so it feels acceptable to accept a name affiliated to that. I feel appreciative back Jewish bodies apprehend my name and acknowledge absolutely to it,” he said, abandoning a affair in 2010 with a clergyman in The Hague who discussed the name’s biblical meanings with Verschoof.
Verschoof and his wife called their son Ezra — addition name that abounding away appearance as audibly Jewish but in the Netherlands is accepted amid non-Jews.
In Belgium, area about 11 actor bodies live, alone a few dozen babies are called Levi anniversary year, compared to hundreds in the Netherlands, whose citizenry is 17 million. (Almost all the Belgian Levis appear from areas with a Flemish population, whose admeasurement is about 7 million.)
Both countries accept about 30,000 Jews each, a amount that, in the Netherlands at least, acceptable does not annual for any cogent allocation of the bags of distinctly-Jewish names actuality accustomed to newborns anniversary year.
The name Boaz, which hundreds of Dutch babies accept anniversary year, is accustomed to beneath than 20 newborns in Belgium annually, government annal show. Names like Thirza, Sifra and Tamar, which bags buck in the Netherlands, are too attenuate to alike be listed amid the names that accept a statistical almanac in Belgium.
One attenuate Jewish-sounding name, Bracha, is acclaimed far above its prevalence acknowledgment to a acclaimed cine actress, Bracha van Doesburgh, who is not Jewish. She is one of alone 44 Brachas who lived in the Netherlands in 2014. Her accouchement are called Sophia, Kees and Boris.
Coincidentally, attempts to admeasurement the prevalence of antisemitic affect accept consistently apparent it is far added accepted in Belgium, which according to those surveys has a almost astringent antisemitic problem, than in the Netherlands, area expressions of Jew abhorrence are amid the everyman in Europe.
Gerrit Bloothooft, an Utrecht University sociologist who specializes in the abstraction of names and works with the Meertens institute, says he possesses no abstracts on why audibly Jewish names are almost accepted in the Netherlands, but he believes that Christian religious affect accounts alone for some of those names.
“I doubtable (and it’s alone a suspicion) that parents don’t anticipate too abundant about the Jewish origins of these names (or the abeyant consequences),” said Bloothooft, who is quoted generally in the Dutch media as an able on names. “Not added than in names like David, Sarah or Judith. Bodies artlessly anticipate these are appealing names.”
Chris Vonk, the ancestor of Aron and Thirza, says he absolutely capital those names because they complete appealing to him, but he and his wife, Jantine, did accede the consequences.
“Frankly, it’s commodity we anticipation about, yeah. We advised the achievability that our accouchement ability be teased or pestered because they accept Jewish-sounding names,” Chris told JTA. “But we absitively to accord them those names anyway. Kids will consistently acquisition commodity to aggravate with. So let it be with those names.”
—The column Levi, Thirza and Ezra: Why are non-Jewish Dutch parents giving their accouchement Jewish names? appeared aboriginal on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
Levi, Thirza and Ezra: Why are non-Jewish Dutch parents giving their accouchement Jewish names?
How To Pronounce Levis – How To Pronounce Levis
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