The name Ruth comes from the Hebrew Scriptures. Ruth is one of only two women honored to have a book written about her life (the other one being Esther).
There she stars as the great-grandmother of King David and the daughter-in-law of Naomi.
Ruth was a Moabite who left her people and homeland (in present day Jordan) to join herself to the people of Israel, remaining faithful to her mother-in-law Naomi, despite the loss and hardships she went through, and proclaiming “_Your people shall be my people; your God shall be my God_.”
One interpretation given to the name Ruth is “companionship” (i.e. friendship and loyalty).
And Ruth certainly was a loyal companion for her widowed mother-in-law.
Israeli parents who choose this name for their baby daughters seek to express their closeness to the Jewish wellspring, while instilling values such as loyalty, dedication, responsibility, initiative, leadership and female power.
Many times we Israelis use the nickname “Ruthie,” especially toward one much loved, with whom we have a bond of closeness.
Famous women in Israel with the name Ruth:
Ruth Sirkis – The mother of cookbooks in Israel. Long before cooking became so trendy and accessible, everyone in Israel owned Ruth Sirkis cookbooks. I have two of them, one from my childhood in my parents’ house, which I took with me when I got married. And to this day I affectionately use them.
Ruth Dayan – Israeli social activist, and the first wife of military commander Moshe Dayan. She founded the fashion company “Maskit” and helped establish the charity organization “Variety Israel.”
The famous Israeli singer Arik Einstein has a song called “Ruth” with the line: “I have a girl named Ruthie, who is looking forward to these beaches” – a nostalgic Israeli song.
My beloved sister-in-law, sister of my husband Aviel, is named Ruth. And she indeed represents womanly loyalty to one’s people and faith tradition. I always call her Ruthie, due to my fondness for her.