Babies Named Chaya Mushka

Hundreds of Hasidic parents (mostly located in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn) named their daughters “Chaya Mushka” after the 1988 passing of Chaya Mushka Schneerson, the wife of prominent New York rabbi.

Here’s a video about the babies named Chaya Mushka, from The Jewish Daily Forward:

The accompanying article is Meet Chaya Mushka, Again and Again. Here are some highlights:

  • According to NYC government stats, “the popularity of the name “Chaya” surged shortly after the rebbetzin died, from about 100 girls annually during the mid-1980s to 150 girls annually during the early 1990s. It peaked in 2005 and 2006, with almost 200 girls named “Chaya” in each year.” (They don’t track middle names.)
  • One Chaya Mushka (b. 1988) mentioned that, at her Beth Rivkah school in Brooklyn, about 75 of the 120 girls in her grade were called Chaya Mushka.
  • A Crown Heights matchmaker said that, currently, “almost one-third of the 200 women on her list of eligible brides are Chaya Mushkas.”

What does the SSA data show? In 1988, the baby name Chaya (which means “life”) saw a jump in usage, and the baby name Mushka (which refers to a fragrance or an aromatic spice) debuted on the national list:

  • 1991: 9 baby girls named Mushka
  • 1990: 17 baby girls named Mushka
  • 1989: 20 baby girls named Mushka
  • 1988: 18 baby girls named Mushka [debut]
  • 1987: unlisted

That matchmaker also mentioned that the name Menachem Mendel became extremely popular for boys after Chaya Mushka’s husband Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the leader of the Lubavitch movement, died a few years later in 1994. “In my son’s class, I would say about 90% [of the boys] are called Mendy.”

Source: Her Name –

Update, 10/25/2020: Recently noticed that the name Menachemmendel popped up in the data for the first (and so far only) time in 2014.

2 thoughts on “Babies Named Chaya Mushka

  1. This reminds me of the preponderance of Spencers in the Mormon community.

    As you can see here ,
    Spencer pops into the top 100 in 1973, the same year Spencer Kimball becomes President of the LDS Church. He died in late 1985, and in 1986, we see an explosion throughout the Mormon corridor: Washington, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming. By 1989, it’s popular across the Northern U.S., and in 1998, popping up everywhere but the Texas and New York areas. By ’04, it’s shrunk back to 1986 territory, and 2009, only Utah (and Maine, barely). It’s never been out of the top 100 in Utah since 1973, and I can personally attest to its local popularity, though not quite at Chaya levels.

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