Cuban-Jewish Names

September 1st, 2011

Amelia writes with a very intriguing conundrum.  Please help us find names for her baby:

Hi! I love your blog and thought I’d write in with my own culturally complex name query.

I’m Cuban-American, he’s Jewish, and with a baby on the way, we want to chose a name that’s appropriate to both contexts. We’re planning on hyphenating the baby’s name, so we want a name (or at least a nickname) that’s fairly simple and straightforward to go with the mouthful at the end. So far our top picks are Loretta (“Letty“) or Zoila (“Zadie“) for a girl, or Louis (“Lou“) or Modesto (“Moe“) for a boy. We’re also picking out a corresponding Hebrew name (e.g. Ayelet for Letty, Moshe for Moe).

Any suggestions?

All the best,

Hello Amelia, you’ve come to the right place!  What a fun challenge.  I love that you’re attempting to honor both cultures.  It IS possible.  Your approach, looking at Latin names that can be adapted to Jewish culture via nickname, is so creative, and just my kind of thing.  There are some names that work well in both cultures, and my suggestions are mostly crossovers.

I would like to hear from our readers what Latin names they can come up with that have Jewish nicknames, or visa versa.  So clever!






Jacob / Diego 

Elijah / Elias

Ephraim / Efraim / Efrain


Joachim / Joaquin

Joshua / Josue 



Noah / Noe / Noa



Simon / Shimon



Adina / Adelina

Aliza / Elisa

Chaya / Eva






Rebeca / Rebecca / Rebekah

Rimona / Ramona



Susana / Shoshannah

Thalia / Talia


Image: Michael Eastman

12 Responses to “Cuban-Jewish Names”

  1. marginamia Says:

    Love the suggestions of Reuben and Solomon, Zelda, Dalia, Naomi and Rimona!

    Here are some more. Some are Latin full names, Hebrew go-by names. Some are Hebrew full and Latin go-by. The ones without two versions are supposedly both.
    **Delmore (Dov)
    **Salvador or Santiago (Saul, Sollie, Sol, Dov) — this is my favorite. the Paskowitzes of Hawaii had one son named Salvador–they are a Jewish/Latin family
    **Arrio or Arcelio (Ari)
    **Talmon, Teom (Teo)
    **Emiliano (Eli)
    **Leonardo (Lidon)
    **Orlando (Oran, Oron, Or)
    **Raphael, Rozen, Rishon (Rio)

    **Almeda (Ada)
    **Engracia (Ena)
    **Heladia (Helsa or Hedy)
    **Nereida (Nira)
    **Venerada (Vida)
    **Doviva (Dita)
    **Levona (Luz)
    **Uriela (Ula)
    Though I really love Zadie and Zelda the most, which you and Elizabeth already picked!

  2. You Can't Call It "It"! Says:

    Love the Hebrew names Dov and Or! Orlando to Or is genius.

    Could you do Oscar to Or? Octavio to Dov?

  3. marginamia Says:

    Oscar! Oscar!

  4. You Can't Call It "It"! Says:

    Or brings me to Lior.

    Lior –> Leon
    Lior –> Leo
    Liora –> Lenora, Laura, Lorena

    I wonder if there’s anything we can do with Ilan? Ilan –> Eladio?

  5. KC Says:

    A couple more suggestions that work in both cultures and languages:


    Benjamin (I have friends– mother is Jewish, father Guatemalan– who decided on this for their son, born last week and works in both cultures. One of their considerations was finding a name that worked in English and Spanish without a spelling change/modification.)

  6. You Can't Call It "It"! Says:

    Ooh! Phooey, I thought I had Benjamin up there. Emmanuel crossed my mind, but I decided it was too controversial in this case?

    Aletta and Maya are especially wonderful additions.

  7. marginamia Says:

    Lior by way of Leonardo or Leander? I’m definitely more a fan of having a full name of one and a go-by of the other, where the go-by is super short. Then, though, it feels like the full name needs to be several syllables longer? I might be over thinking.

    Eleodoro could be another route to Ilan, or to Elias, Eli or Dor

    Or also leads me to Naor — could get to it from Navarro?

    Gedaliah — Galo?

    Ishmael/Ismael (Izzy)

    more girls:
    ** Ximena (with a V middle name, like Valentine, Verde, or Vesper) to get to – - Ziv (sounds like Zeev, and I LOVE the meaning–radiance!) Plus Ximena has the tie to Simone.
    **Alessandra — Adel , Asa or Ada
    **Miriam — Mira
    **Salvadora — Sadie
    **Susannah — Xuxa (shoo-sha) or Zizi
    **Artemisia — Asa or Aria
    **Esmerelda — Elsa or Elsie
    **Mahalia — Mimi
    **Vida works for both, no?

  8. KateZ Says:

    I was going to recommend Emmanuel, because I think it would be an amazing Jewish namesake to be named after Emmanuel Ringelblum, the Warsaw Ghetto historian who hid his documents in milk cans so they could be found after the ghetto was liquidated. A really meaningful name.

    I also love Esther, nee Etty, Etta, Etsy, Ettie for a girl! Or what about Ilana? Or Lila?

  9. eBirdie Says:

    I actually really like Loretta/Letty and Louis/Lou.

    Otherwise…Milagros/Mila would be lovely.

  10. Anne-Marie Says:

    There are actually a slew of latin names leftover from pre-inquisition days when there were many Spanish Jews. There are also Arab ones from the same era which have survived, even in the “New World” where many have forgotten their connection to this history. It’s part of the reason why there are so many Latinos named “Israel” and “Omar.” My family long has dropped this tradition- at one time being very conscious of hiding it- and tends to pull names from Irish relatives (long story) but those names are out there.

  11. Lucia Says:

    Ibrahim, like Ibrahim Ferrer from Buenavista Social Club.

  12. You Can't Call It "It"! Says:

    Good one! Love that album.

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