For 117,000 Israelis with Pesach-related names, the holiday never ends

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For most Israelis, Passover comes and goes.

But it is a more permanent presence in the lives of at least 117,000 odd people in Israel whose names refer to the Jewish holiday or characters in the biblical story behind it.

Most of them, or 112,205, are named Moshe, the Hebrew version of Moses, the main character of the story, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics, which published data on Passover names last week.

A distant second was Nisan, the Jewish calendar month when Passover occurs, with 3,680 males and 115 females. Pesach, the Hebrew name for Passover, came in third with 1,419 males. A masculine noun, however it is only a woman’s first name, the report said.

The CBS report includes no less than 90 women whose first name is spelled the same as Moshe in Hebrew, but pronounced Masha – a common name in some Slavic languages. Similarly, the list of female names includes one whose Hebrew spelling is the same as Pharaoh, but can be pronounced Farrah.

The list includes names more loosely associated with the holiday, such as Omer, the name of a seven-week period from the second day of Passover to Shavuot and also an ancient measure of grain (39,149 men and 5,919 women). Heirut, which means freedom, is the first name of 284 males and six females. The list also included Aviv, Hebrew for spring (13,510 and 5,237), and Aviva (no men and 8,956 women.)

There are also four females, and no males, apparently named Matza.

The number of people designated for Passover may reflect the importance of the holiday, which is one of Judaism’s three pilgrimage festivals and is sometimes referred to as the second most significant date on the Jewish calendar, after Yom Kippur.

Only about 50,000 Israelis have first names that refer to Hanukkah, Judaism’s main winter holiday, according to a CBS report from last year.

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