Soc.Culture.Jewish Newsgroups
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

URL: www.scjfaq.org/faq/21-02-05.html
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Question 21.2.5:
Naming: My spouse has a living relative with the same name as my deceased relative. Can we name our children after my relative?

Answer:

Note that this response is significant only to those that hold with Ashkenazi traditions; Sephardi traditions name after living relatives. Also note that we are dealing with custom here; there is no formal law that would prohibit it. Ashkenazic custom discourages naming a baby after a living relative. This is a based on a folk-myth that this might confuse the Angel of Death, who might then accidentally take the baby instead of the older relative. Sefardic custom has no such tradition, and thus encourages parents to name their children after living relatives. Generally, Ashkenazi Jews should follow the traditional Ashkenazi custom, and Sefardic Jews should follow the Sefardic custom, but the end decision is left to the parents.

For the most part, most people would not use the same name. Often, the living relative with that name would be offended that one might be trying to use the name before they were done with it! However, as with anything, there are solutions. Consider using a less recognizable variant of the name, or a name with the same first letter, instead. Another approach would be to use a name that is different, but has the same meaning. There also appears to be less of a taboo against using English names of living relatives (i.e., use the English name, but use a different Hebrew name). However, the best approach is to check with the living relative to see if they would be offended.


The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.

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