Judaism and the Beginning of Life
Reflections and Testimonials
When a baby is born or adopted into a Jewish family, he of she is welcomed into a covenantal community. From the ancient tradition of circumcision to contemporary, innovative ceremonies, a new Jewish boy or girl becomes a focal point for ritual and celebration. The choosing of a name becomes an opportunity to connect with people, stories, events, and associations
that are significant to the parents.
The practice of circumcising baby boys (brit milah) has its roots in Abraham’s circumcising the male members of his household, as recorded in the biblical Book of Genesis.
It is a deep and persistent symbol of covenant and continuity
for the Jewish people.
A parallel ceremony for girls (often called a simchat bat) is a contemporary development with historical and cultural predecessors, inspired by Jewish feminism, and practiced in most liberal and some traditional communities. Families and communities have also acknowledged and celebrated the arrival of babies in many other ways throughout Jewish history, and in different Jewish traditions throughout the world, with a variety of home and synagogue rituals of celebration and naming.
For boys, the ceremony for brit milah (also known as a “bris”) traditionally takes place on the eighth day of life, and includes words of blessing, the circumcision itself, and the giving of a name. For many girls, the much newer simchat bat (frequently referred to in English as a “baby naming”) can take place on a variety of days. It often follows a similar structure as the brit milah, with one of several welcoming acts as the ritual centerpiece.
Just as the longstanding tradition of brit milah for boys inspired the creation of parallel ceremonies for girls, the creative approach to tradition that has marked simchat bat ceremonies has in many cases shaped the way that brit milah is celebrated, for example, with fuller involvement of the mother, and an emphasis on themes equally applicable to girls and boys.
(This information is adapted from My Jewish Learning.)
Rabbi Bravo's Role in Baby Namings
One of the greatest joys as a rabbi is to help families welcome their new babies into the Jewish covenant and community. I work with each family to create the right ceremony for them as a couple and as a family. I am happy to officiate at such ceremonies during a worship service, in the family’s home or at a private venue. You can contact me before the baby is born in preparation or once you have the baby and are beginning the planning stages. You can contact me here.
In Hebrew we say b’sha’ah tovah, which means may the baby come at just the right time.
"Rabbi Bravo came to our home and performed a touching and heartfelt naming ceremony for our daughter.
Her Charismatic personality was felt throughout the room
and she made everyone feel like family."
- Ella's Parents
Rabbi Bravo officiated our daughter's naming ceremony in May and it was absolutely beautiful. Her ceremony was incredibly warm and we were thrilled that our parents, son, grandmother, siblings, and cousins were each able to play a special role.
Our family and friends still haven't stopped talking about
Rabbi Bravo and the our wonderful simcha.
- Rebecca's Parents
As an interfaith family, it was incredibly important to us to have
a ceremony that reflected the uniqueness of our family,
and ensured all felt welcome and included as part of
our daughter’s blessing. Rabbi Bravo worked with us prior
to the event to understand our vision for the day,
made helpful suggestions as to how to organize the ceremony, and answered all of our questions.
On the day of the naming, Rabbi Bravo was very thorough, taking the time to ensure that all of our family understood
the meaning behind the various parts of the ceremony.
It was a beautiful day for our family!
- Natalie's Parents