What joy a newborn baby brings to our homes! The birth of a child is certainly among one of the most life-changing and wondrous events in our lives. This sweet new life touches everyone in a family, from parents and siblings to grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and so on. Everyone wants to be involved in some way, whether it?s Mom flying in to help or friends and colleagues sending delicious new baby baskets .
What joy a newborn baby brings to our homes! The birth of a child is certainly among one of the most life-changing and wondrous events in our lives. This sweet new life touches everyone in a family, from parents and siblings to grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and so on. Everyone wants to be involved in some way, whether it?s Mom flying in to help or friends and colleagues sending delicious new baby baskets.
Jewish Traditions and Rituals English/Secular Names Naming our children is serious business. It might be the name of a loved one, or someone we highly respect, or a word that brings back a beautiful personal memory.
While there are no hard and fast rules to picking names in the Jewish tradition, there are some customs that Jews generally follow. It is customary for Ashkenazi Jews (descendents of Eastern Europe, Germany, Poland, Russia) to name their babies after a deceased relative. However, for Sephardic Jews (of Spanish and Portuguese descent), it is allowable and an honor to name a child after a living relative (of course one would ask permission first). Either way, it is not necessary to use the exact name, a first initial will do.
? My first two sons, Sam and Harry are after two of their great-grandfathers.” says Jane Moritz, Owner of an online company that specializes in Jewish Traditions.? However, while the great-grandfathers? names were actually Sam and Harry, we could have chosen Stephen and Harvey.”.
In addition to the English name, babies are also given a Hebrew name. Certain ceremonies?including Bris, Baby Naming, Bar/Bat Mitzvah and ketubah-signing– require a Hebrew name. The Hebrew name can be a close translation from the baby?s secular name. It could also just share the first letter. Michael?s Hebrew name might be Moshe. For another option, parents may choose a Hebrew name that sounds beautiful, has a beautiful translation, or reminds them of something meaningful in their own lives. The Hebrew name Meira, means? light.”.
If it?s a boy, it?s a Bris It?s a boy! That means eight days after the birth, a joyous bris, or circumcision ceremony, will take place as long as the baby is healthy. You can expect friends and family to be present at a bris, as it is a time to celebrate.
? The bris is both joyous and stressful.” says Jane Moritz.? It is wonderful to bring home a healthy boy and be surrounded by family and friends for a traditional-laden Jewish ceremony. As a mother, it?s difficult to know that your baby is being strapped down and circumcised. Knowing that generations of males have survived was my only comfort.”.
Following the ceremony, which only takes a few minutes, food is served?most typically bagels and lox, baked goods such as rugelach, black and white cookies, babka and more. The bris may be held at someone?s home, at a social hall or in the synagogue and usually begins with the ha-motzi (prayer over the bread).
The bris is perhaps the most observed tradition in the Jewish religion. While some think circumcision is a matter of hygiene, it is actually a biblical commandment and any health benefits are incidental. The circumcision is considered a physical reminder of the covenant between the Jews and God, whereby the Jews promised to worship one God and in turn become God?s chosen people. Besides being a medical procedure, in Jewish law the circumcision is considered a spiritual experience. The circumcision is performed by a mohel, an observant Jew who is formally trained as a ritual circumciser as well as in the laws and traditions of Judaism.
Unless there are health reasons, the bris is always eight days after the birth?even if that day falls on the Sabbath. For example, if the baby is born on a Wednesday afternoon the bris would be the following Wednesday morning. If the baby is born Wednesday night, the bris would take place a week later on Thursday morning.
Welcoming a girl Over the past 30 years or so in America, it has become customary for Jewish parents to hold a special ceremony for their newborn daughters. While boys are given their Hebrew names at their Bris, girls receive their Hebrew names at a baby naming ceremony, or brit bat, which is typically held during the course of a regular service when the Torah scroll is open. It includes a special blessing giving thanks for a healthy delivery and for the health of the mother. There are no strict rules for these ceremonies, but this life-cycle event is just as important to the family as the bris, and it too signifies the concept of entering into the covenant between God and the Jewish people. The brit bat is scheduled at the convenience of the parents, whether it?s eight days or six months after the birth.
It is customary to serve refreshments or a meal following the ceremony, beginning with the ha-motzi, a prayer over the bread. Help the family celebrate by bringing or sending a ceremonial challah or a kosher gift basket filled with assorted baked goods.
Some terms to know For the bris: In Hebrew, Brit milah (meaning? covenant (of) circumcision”) Ashkenazi Jews say bris milah, Sephardic Jews say, berit milah, and in Yiddish, it is pronounced bris.
For the baby naming: brit bat (the covenant of a daughter); simchat bat (celebration of a daughter); hakhnasat bat l?brit (the entering of a daughter into the covenant).
At a bris, the baby is carried into the room by the kvatter and kvatterin, the Godmother and Godfather. The baby is placed on lap of the Sandek, often a grandparent or close relative, who holds the baby through the circumcision. It is a true honor to be asked to be the Sandek. Often the grandparents perform this role.
As the ritual circumcision concludes with prayer and song, it is customary to invite the guests for refreshments or a meal. This is called a seudat mitzvah, and it is part of the mitzvah of a bris. Typically, a traditional Jewish spread of bagels and lox is served.
Gifts: What to bring or send Whether or not you are going to the bris or baby naming, it is nice to acknowledge the birth. At Challah Connection, our Jewish baby baskets, including our Little Mensch Basket and Shayna Medela Basket combine both food and items for the baby. The new parents may need some help in preparing for the bris or baby naming.
Copyright 2007, Challah Connection