New life

Baby names appear to see influence from October 7 attacks

Population and Immigration Authority reports dozens of newborns named Be’eri and Oz, the names of communities hard-hit by Hamas; Nova also shows up

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Illustrative: A baby boy in his crib. July 15, 2019. (Chen Leopold/FLASH90)
Illustrative: A baby boy in his crib. July 15, 2019. (Chen Leopold/FLASH90)

The devastating Hamas terror attack on Israel last month gave tragic amplification to the names of communities near the Gaza Strip that were hardest hit by the murderous onslaught.

As the scale of the brutal assault unfolded, a steady stream of reports listed the communities where terrorists massacred residents, among them Be’eri, Nahal Oz, and Nir Oz, kibbutzim that were assaulted by some of the thousands of terrorists who breached the border and went on killing sprees, killing entire families as they huddled together in their homes.

In the weeks since, as the war continues to rage, some parents appear to have honored those names by giving them to their newborns.

The Population and Immigration Border Authority on Thursday released a list of place names in the south that have been used for some of the 17,629 newborns since the October 7 attack.

Oz, the Hebrew word for “might,” is an established name. Since the war started, 49 boys and one girl have been called “Oz,” PIBA said, without detailing if that marked a noticeable increase in use.

In addition, 34 boys and 11 girls have been named Be’eri.

PIBA said eight boys and two girls have been called Erez (the name of another kibbutz near Gaza) and five boys and three girls have been named Nir. Both are common names, and it is unclear whether they were tied to October’s events.

Three girls were given the name Nova, Latin for “new” and a possible reference to the Supernova music festival, where terrorists mowed down hundreds of revelers.

Liraz and Dudu Smadjah explained to the Ynet outlet why they named their son Oz.

Liraz said she had not considered the name before the fighting started but “since the war began we were connected to the stories and the news. The name ‘Oz’ came up mostly because of its meaning,” she said. “I felt the connection to power, to greatness and courage that our heroic soldiers are showing.”

Yitzhak and Mor Levi named their daughter Be’eri. Mor told Ynet that she had already decided on the name before knowing if she was carrying a boy or a girl, long before the war started, and hadn’t even known there was a kibbutz with the same name. Although Yitzhak wasn’t initially favorably inclined to her suggestion, once the war began he was completely on board, Mor said.

She said she had actually had reservations, worrying the name would have negative connotations due to the massacre at the kibbutz.

“When I call her [name] I immediately think of the kibbutz and what happened there,” she said.

Mor had another name as an option but said her sister-in-law had checked the numerological value of Be’eri and informed her it was the better choice.

“I’m glad we chose that name,” she said.

According to Ynet the name Mia, formed in Hebrew by the letters mem, yud, and heh, was popular after the 1973 Yom Kippur War as it is an acronym for the Hebrew translation Milhemet Yom Hakippurim.

Israel Hayom reported that the names “Tzuk” and “Eitan” both got a boost in 2014 due to a war with Hamas that year named Tzuk Eitan in Hebrew, or Operation Protective Edge in English.

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