If a convert to Judaism has the name of an Avodah Zarah, is he or she obligated to change it? For example, there are many Hindus today that have the names of Hindu gods such as Lakhshmi, Shiva, and Ganesha. To be clear, it is probably not the best idea for a Jew to have a name like that, but is it allowed?

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    Prequel: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/62315/…
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 17:49
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    Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/17301/…
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 17:51
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    Jesus is also a popular name even nowadays in some circles.
    – DonielF
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 22:07
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    Unless you have some reason to think that difference rules govern the names of converts and born Jews, consider just generalising the question to whether a Jew may have a name of an avodah zarah.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 22:28
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    @mevaqesh I was thinking that it could be a BediAved issue, e.g. "A Jew may not lechtachila voluntarily change their name to Ganesha Thor Worship-Jesus McAllah Idolmann, but if he is already well known by that name bediaved he may keep it." Commented May 12, 2017 at 20:15

1 Answer 1


The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 147) says that there is a prohibition to utter names of an idol, unless that name has been previously mentioned by the Torah itself.

However the Gra (147:3) says that it only applies to when the name was given for the purpose of Avoda Zarah. But if it was given as an ordinary name it is permitted

Thus according to the strict reading of the Shulchan Aruch. It would seem to be prohibited

But according to the Gra it is permitted.

It would seem to follow that the need to change your name would be dependent on these two opinions

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    "But according to the Gra it is permitted" not necessarily. The name may have been given to honor the idol.
    – user9643
    Commented May 12, 2017 at 1:34
  • To be clear, this question does not directly apply to me as I neither have the name of an Avodah Zarah nor am I undergoing conversion. If I was, I would be C my LOR. Commented May 12, 2017 at 20:10
  • @Ploni poskim use the gra to be Mattir using the name Jesus, because it is his name that over time became the name of an Avoda Zarah Commented May 14, 2017 at 20:53
  • @ShoelU'Meishiv The Gra requires 2 conditions: 1) the name must have been originally an ordinary name. 2) The name must have not been given in honor of the Avoda Zarah.
    – user9643
    Commented May 14, 2017 at 21:10
  • So does this mean that perhaps if someone named their child "Christian" because they were Christian mean they would have to change their name if they converted, according to the Shulchan Aruch?
    – ezra
    Commented Jul 4, 2017 at 1:26

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