Baby Naming and Brit Milah
Today, some baby namings still take place in a synagogue. Alternately, a baby naming or Brit Bat (Covenanting of the Daughter), can be held in the family’s home, similar to a Brit Milah. Generally, this is done within the first month or two of the baby girl’s life, but it can be held later.
During both the Brit Bat and the Brit Milah, a special blessing of gratitude is recited for the healthy delivery of the baby, as well as the health of the mother. It continues with the giving of the baby’s name, and a prayer that the newborn should grow to be a good, wise and understanding person. The names are recited in both Hebrew and English, and a parent may also talk about how they came to choose the child’s name, and the people for whom their child was named.
Since there is no specific format to adhere to, people have created their own traditions for the liturgy of a Brit Bat. They can be creative and hold great meaningful, and at Beth Avodah, we encourage a full Brit Bat and will facilitate a truly personalized service.
Brit Milah (Bris)
A Brit Milah (Bris) is the Jewish rite of circumcision, performed on a male child. It is typically help the parent’s home, on the eighth day after the child is born, even if the eighth day occurs on Shabbat or a holiday, or even Yom Kippur.
Circumcision is an outward physical sign of the eternal covenant between God and the Jewish people. Of all the Jewish life cycle events, this one is probably the most ancient. It is a powerful reminder of the deep and abiding bond we maintain with our ancestors and our future progeny.
Although, officially, it is the child’s father who is charged with performing the circumcision, generally the procedure is performed by a Mohel. A Mohel is a Jew, specifically trained in the physical procedures of circumcision, and with a thorough understanding of the religious import and significance of the ritual. If a Mohel is not available, then a Jewish physician can also be called on to perform the circumcision.
An essential part of the Brit Milah includes the naming of the baby boy. Jewish tradition places importance on names as both links to previous generations and hopes for future generations. It is customary for families of Eastern European ancestry to name their children after deceased relatives. For Sephardic Jews, the tradition is to name sons for living relatives, often the grandfather.