On Jewish Dog Names

Editor’s Note: this article originally ran as the lead-in to the March 11th, 2021 newsletter, but by popular demand it is now being posted as a standard article. To avoid missing any more instant classics like this, subscribe to our newsletter on the front page of our website.

When you think of the strength and prevailing culture of the Diaspora, what comes to mind? Food? Music? Cinema? Whatever you answered, you’re wrong. The beauty of American Jewry is demonstrated in the best possible way by Jewish dog names – today, we’d like to categorize them and discuss their implications.

First, we have the obvious, Jewish foods. To all those dogs named Kugel, Babka, Zatar, Bamba, Falafel, Latke, and Brisket, keep doing what you’re doing. Those dog owners – regardless of whether they’re religious Jews or cultural Jews – clearly have no shame screaming odd, yet recognizable, words across the dog park.

Secondly we need to discuss the Biblical names. They might feel weird on a dog, until you get used to the dog – then it feels weird to read it in the Bible. If your dog is named Moshe, Betzalel, Noah, Samson, Delilah, Benjamin, or Ruth, you probably have a hard time reading the Torah without picturing certain characters as your dog, but it definitely makes synagogue way more interesting. 

The third category, a personal favorite of ours, is the random Hebrew word pet name. If you’ve ever met a dog named Yofi, Sabra, Motek, Lev, Kodesh, Briut, or the ever-creative Kelev, you know that their owners tried to train them with Hebrew commands, before giving up, reconciling with the grim reality that they’ll probably never make Aliyah, and switching back to English.

Lastly, we have Jewish pop culture dog names. These are the Golda Meirs, the Mrs. Maisels, the Tevyes, the Feivels, the Ilan Ramons, and the dogs named after Seinfeld characters. We have to be honest. These are just weird. The dogs and the owners.

Overall, it seems like a good strategy for making Jewish friends in the neighborhood. And a lovely way to stay connected to our heritage.

Thank you for coming to this Ted Talk.

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