A new law proposed by MK Zvulun Orlev (Bayit Yehudi), who is chairman of the Knesset Children's Rights Committee, would prevent parents from giving their children “weird” or strange names that other children were likely to make fun of. The law would forbid parents from naming their children with names that “hurt their welfare or their feelings.”
The law, to be presented Sunday for the approval of the Ministerial Law Committee, would establish a “public names committee” which would include experts such as social workers, psychologists, and educators. They would confer with the relevant government ministries on “unacceptable” names that were likely, in their opinion, to cause children damage.
Names that could hurt the social standing, feelings, or welfare of children would be banned, and the Interior Ministry would be instructed not to accept them for registration.
The law states that “a person's name has an important influence on how society and those around him look at him. A name is the most important asset that a person has. Judaism places great importance on a person's name, and many people consult with rabbis before deciding what to name their children.”
Orlev said that while the law may at first glance seem somewhat invasive, it was by no means unique; a number of countries around the world, including Sweden, Portugal, Norway, and Peru, to name just a few, had laws preventing parents from giving their children “negative” names.
“This law is an excellent balance between parents' free choice in what to name their children and the extreme cases that require the law to get involved, since without involvement a youth could suffer immeasurable damage. Often parents are not aware of the problems with the names they choose and need advice to come to a deeper understanding of the meaning and cultural aspects of a name,” Orlev said.