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Jewesses with Attitude

Bring on the Emmas!

Last week, the New York Times reported the most popular baby names, noting that there were "few baby Baracks, but Emmas abound."  "Emma" has bumped "Emily" out of the No. 1 spot as the most popular baby name for girls.  The article mentions that "Emma" has been in the top 10 since 2002, and also ranked in the top 10 in the late 19th century.  Hmm... the late 19th century, you say? 

Emma Lazarus, the famous poet best known for writing the inscription on the base of the Statue of Liberty, and Emma Goldman, activist, anarchist, and political agitator, were both making waves in the late 19th century.  Methinks there is a reason "Emma" was such a popular name during that period, and the reason might be these two remarkable Jewesses.

According to, "Emma" means "universal."  While the name has become a common, American name, it has strong ties to American Jewish women's history. As far as trends go, this is one I love.  Just think of all the 21st century baby Emmas proudly sharing their namesake with two of our favorite Jewesses.  I say, bring on the Emmas!

How to cite this page

Berkenwald, Leah. "Bring on the Emmas!." 31 August 2009. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on October 24, 2016) <>.


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