Suri, the name chosen by Hollywood couple Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes for their newborn daughter, is raising more than its share of interest in Israel.
It means “get out of here” in the local language, Hebrew.
News of the naming puzzled even those Israelis who thought they had seen it all after pop diva Madonna turned the ancient Jewish mystical tradition Kabbalah into a faith for the famous.
“I really don’t know what they were thinking when they chose this name. It’s a term that denotes expulsion, like ‘Get out of here’,” said Gideon Goldenberg, a linguistics professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. “It’s pretty blunt.”
Yaron London, a cultural commentator for Israel’s Channel 10 television, had this rhetorical question for Suri’s proud parents: “Why didn’t you just go back to your ancestors’ language, and call the kid ‘Scram Cruise’?”
A Cruise family spokesman said last week that Suri has its origins in ancient Hebrew, as a variant on Sarah, the biblical matriarch. But that pronunciation is all but unknown in Israel.
There are exceptions. Jerusalem journalist Surie Ackerman said her name was a formalized version of a nickname given by fellow ultra-Orthodox Jews in her native United States.
“It sounds strange to me that a non-Jewish, Scientology baby should be called Suri,” Ackerman said, referring to the alternative church which counts Cruise among its devotees.
“But there are plenty of strange names in the world.”
And there are plenty of alternative meanings for Suri. It’s also a Nubian tribe, the word for “rose” in Persian, “sun” in Sanskrit and a term for a form of Alpaca’s wool.