Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Jews in the News: The Jew-ening of America

We have a number of non-Jewish obsessions here at JONJ Base Camp. One of them is baby names and the waxing and waning popularity of said names.

It always comes back to Jews in the end, though.

Anyway, you've probably noticed that "old lady" names are back in amongst the girls, but the boys? There actually is something kosher about all this.

Per Yahoo, the 20 most popular male baby names of 1911, aka 1 century ago:

John, William, James, George, Rover(ROVER?!), Joseph, Charles, Frank, Edward, Thomas, Henry, Walter, Harry, Willie, Albert, Harold, Paul, Arthur, Raymond, Richard.

The Jewiest name on the list?  #6, Joseph. After that? Ummm, well Walter and Harry are fairly Jew-y but not for any reason other than there are a lot of old Jews named Walter and Harry. Let's be clear. This list is Christ city.

Now let's look at 2011:

Jacob, Mason, William, Jayden, Noah, Michael, Ethan, Alexander, Aiden, Daniel, Anthony, Matthew, Elijah, Joshua, Liam, Andrew, James, David, Benjamin, Logan.

First thing you notice? Mason and Jayden. What the fuck?! 

OK, second thing you notice? Holy Jew! Jacob is #1 with a bullet. Then Noah is #5, Daniel is 10, freakin' Elijah is 13, Joshua is (actually down) at 14 then David and Benjamin close out the top 20.

This is a remarkable amount of Old Testament names popping up. Some of this is, as mentioned for the girls, is the coming around of "old names" which went from  passé to popular. Some of it is a return to Biblical naming as the US of A goes through its latest religious revival cycle (but then where are the New Testament names?).

But some of it? Some of it is just inexplicable. Neither Jewish population nor Jewish culture is particularly ascendent. Frankly, I don't know what to make of this.

What does it all mean? Almost certainly a lot more work for JONJ in the future...


  1. I am always amazed how many young Jakes there are. My grandfather's name was Jake and I thought it was such an old man name. Twenty years after my grandfather's death Jake ia a hip name. Go figure.

  2. I am sure the rise of the religious right has something to do with this. Hicks have lots of kids and they do love their Old Testament, where God is vengeful, foolhardy and intolerant.

  3. You'd be shocked--SHOCKED--at how little of the Old Testament most goyim actually know. That said, if it was just Biblical resurgence (and I agree with you that is playing at least a part) then where are Chris, Michael, Paul, Luke, et al?

  4. Michael is there, but I hear you. The recent fashion on the last-name-as-first-name trend (let's hope it never touched the Jews! can you imagine all the little Goldsteins running around?), also quite the rage among Southern whites, and the Irish families' rediscovery of their heritage (Liam, Ian, Evan, Sean) cut into the Old Testament names quite a bit, I think.
    And of course, the very religious and quickly growing African-American community is too far down the road to LaShawns and DeShuans to consider the Biblical Elijahs and Joshuas again.

  5. @Yakov: true, but I watched an episode of that show "American Bible Challenge" with Jeff Foxworthy (not a Jew) on Game Show Network and I was surprised that the majority (but not all) of the questions are from the Old Testament, not the New.

    By the way (to the last anonymous post), there's a small but surprisingly growing number of Liams among Orthodox/Hasidic kids because it can also be a Hebrew name (though it is not Hebrew for 'William' as the more common Irish rendition is (Gaelic for 'William').

  6. Hey Anon-

    They asked the Old Testament questions for just that reason: the assumption that no one knows them. It's not a fun game show if no one knows the answers. So they chose a subject matter they thought their audience was unlikely to know.

    As a rabid Jeopardy consumer, I can tell you—if there is no Jew on the program that day and an Old Testament question comes up, it's going unanswered. Even something that seems pretty obvious to me.

    This leads to me cussing at the TV, btw. I'm classy like that.