While there’s an age-old Jewish ritual of having a bris (brit milah in Hebrew) for baby boys, which also doubles as a welcoming celebration, there’s no tradition like that found in the Torah for a daughter. Not a huge surprise, because the Torah isn't exactly known for its strong stance on women's rights. Fortunately, sometime during the 20th century, baby naming ceremonies for girls (also known by the Hebrew words Simchat Bat, which means celebration of a daughter, and Brit Bat, which means daughter's covenant) became a thing. No matter what you call it, don't miss the chance to have one! Boys can have naming ceremonies too, for instance, if the bris was done by a doctor before he left the hospital, or if the parents decided not to circumcise their son. Either way, namings are a fantastic and meaningful way to welcome a Jewish baby, and in today's world, we should celebrate joy whenever we can!JewBelong’s ready-to-print booklet has (almost) everything you need for a beautiful baby naming!
You get to decide when to have it... like maybe after you've gotten a little sleep...
We know what you’re thinking… You’re thinking, ” Dammit, JewBelong! Of course, I want to have a baby naming ceremony, but seriously, I’ve been up at least three times every single night and I barely have time to shower… How do you expect me to put together a baby naming ceremony?” Fortunately, we’ve got you covered with a short but sweet naming ceremony that’s ready to go. It has most of the readings that we used for our own children’s naming ceremonies. Of course, we have more readings to choose from, so by all means, browse through all 28 when you are up in the middle of the night if you want. We also have guidelines below for the rest of the ceremony (most important is that you need to write a few words to share when it’s time to announce your baby’s Hebrew name so don’t miss that). It will help you create a celebration you’ll remember forever, even if your baby won’t cause, well, she’s just a baby.
Step 1) Have whatever kind of party you want. 2) Don't ask mom to do too much - she's already done enough.
According to tradition, Jewish parents aren’t supposed to have baby showers or decorate the nursery before the baby is born because of a superstition that getting clothes and toys for the baby before it’s born can bring bad luck. Not to mention that if the baby dies before coming home, the heartbreak of having to see all the baby’s things or go into a fully decorated baby’s room probably makes things worse. That being said, infants dying during childbirth is a lot less common than it used to be, so some Jewish people have showers. TBH, we prefer a baby naming over a shower any day. Not only do they tend to be more meaningful (seriously, we have been to some kooky showers) but everyone gets to meet the baby, which is like getting fifty birds killed with one stone because instead of having a constant stream of people visiting to see the baby, wham bam, you get it all done in one day.
A baby naming is easy. (The bris takes practice.)
You probably love your daughter’s English name, or you would have chosen something different. Choosing a Hebrew name is also a chance to choose a name you love. With one caveat… If you were wondering why you’ve never met a Rachel Schwartz Junior or Jessica Mandelbaum III, it’s because most Jews don’t name their baby after someone who is living. (Side note: This is only true for Ashkenazi Jews. Sephardic Jews do name their children after living relatives, but we digress…) The reasons not to name a baby after someone who is alive come from superstitions and ideas about being respectful to the living, but honestly, it’s also probably less confusing than have three Rachels in the same family. On the other hand, it’s considered an honor to name your baby after a loved one who is deceased so that the name lives on. The baby naming celebration is an opportunity to remember the person she’s named after with stories, a few words about why the name was chosen, and maybe photos if you have them. Plenty of families choose two names — one from each side of the family. Others choose the Hebrew version of the baby’s first or middle name, such as Sarah (princess in Hebrew) for Sadie, or Ora (light in Hebrew) for Olivia. There are plenty of beautiful biblical and Israeli names to choose from. We’ll remind you again in the ceremony notes, but announcing the name is kind of the main event at a naming, so be sure to write something beforehand to share with your guests.
Bar Refaeli is a Hebrew name. Enough said.
Baby namings typically take place in the morning and last for about an hour or so. You can have the ceremony anywhere… home, the community room of your apartment building, etc. All you really need is a quiet room big enough for your guests. If you belong to a synagogue, you can probably have the ceremony in a room there. Many synagogues also have baby namings during Friday night Shabbat services, which can be a beautiful time to welcome your baby into her Jewish community, although, the naming part will probably be more of a side note than the main event. Our advice? Use JewBelong’s free naming booklet for a beautiful and easy celebration. Just print enough copies for everyone so they can follow along and 2) Write the notes that you will use when it’s time to announce baby’s Hebrew name in advance then remember to bring them on the day! If you want to create your own ceremony (sigh), here’s an outline for a lovely ceremony:
Planning tips: Because these things don't plan themselves.
Use this checklist to help get ready, but don’t stress about trying to have all of it!
OK, you've got the baby. So what else?
This is one of those readings that is somewhat traditional but so beautiful and even dramatic. It is what so much of what Judaism is about… the connection to a long and important tradition. In a world where so much is fleeting, it is grounding to belong to this community.
First line: We believe that the miracle of her birth is of great importance to the community of the Jewish people, for Judaism’s future rests on the firm foundation of both its men and women. Last line: May her parents rear their daughter with love. Amen…
The blessing recited over wine or grape juice. Some families just do the first line (up to “Amen”) and others do the full blessing. As always, do whatever feels right to you!
First line: Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, borei p’ree hagafen. Amen. Last line: Blessed are You, God, Spirit of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the vine. Amen…
This blessing is traditionally made over a challah, a sweet braided bread. If you don’t have a challah, use different bread, or even a cracker or pizza crust. Making the blessing is more important than the actual bread.
First line: Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, hamotzi lechem min ha-aretz. Amen. Last line: Blessed are You, God, Spirit of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the earth. Amen…
The Shehecheyanu is a great generic catch all prayer that’s basically saying, “Wow! We are really happy we got to this moment!” Like for example, after we have been working our asses off for months, when the new release of the JewBelong website goes live and doesn’t crash with all the high-fiving, we will say the Shehecheyanu.
First line: Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, shehecheyanu v’key’manu v’higiyanu lazman hazeh. Amen. Last line: Praised are You, Spirit of the Universe, who keeps us alive, sustains us, and brings us to this moment. Amen…
You'll like these. (We work hard on this stuff!)
The only thing we find slightly annoying about this ancient Jewish prayer is that it ends with the marriage canopy. Not that there is anything wrong with marriage, but it’s not for everyone and it seems like an odd culmination for the tiny baby. But when you think that procreation is a mitzvah, it’s more understandable.
First line: May the one who blessed our mothers, Sarah, Rebecca, Leah, and Rachel, and our fathers, Abraham, Issac and Jacob, bless these parents and their newborn daughter. Her name shall be (insert English or Hebrew name here). Last line: Let us say Amen…
So here is the thing, half of the Jewish families that we know are headed by a couple where one of them is not Jewish. And we think eureka! That is great! Why isn’t there a blessing for that person who is not Jewish but participating in a Jewish home/life! And… there is! And we love it and hope you do too!
First line: May everyone who shares in a Jewish life feel welcome and integrated. Last line: With all our hearts, we want to thank you for your love and willingness in giving the ultimate gift to the Jewish people. Amen…
We used this reading at our own simchas (Hebrew for celebrations) and we know you’ll love it, too. It’s short, and beautiful.
First line: Dearest one, I wish you the strength to face challenges with confidence along with the wisdom to choose your battles carefully. Last line: I am so proud of you!…
In this insane world that changes so quickly, it is grounding to remember where, and more importantly, who we came from. This notion of remembering Judaism’s foundations and meaningful traditions are the driving forces behind JewBelong.
First line: In the garden there’s a tree planted by someone who only imagined me. Last line: I’m standing on the shoulders of the ones who came before me…
Choose a reading or two. Or take our advice and print out copies of JewBelong's Baby Naming booklet.
Oh, this is soo beautiful! Hard to explain beauty…suffice it to say that anyone adopting a baby should take a look!
First line: We have been blessed with the precious gift of this child. Last line: Bless all of us together beneath your shelter of shalom (peace), and grant our new family, always, the harmony and love we feel today…
Best Sex and the City memory… when Charlotte and Harry got the picture of Lily, who they adopted. This reading is like that!
First line: You first came to us in an envelope with letters, forms and such. Last line: Our child of chance, of plan, of will you’re now our very own…
This is one of the sweetest readings about adoption we could find.
First line: Longing for a child to love, I’d wish upon the stars above. Last line: In my heart I always knew, a part of me belonged to you…
Nice Jewish boys and girls are made, not born.
This song is the perfect tearjerker to share at any happy Jewish occasion. L’chi Lach essentially means “go into yourself” in Hebrew. The lyrics tell those that are being celebrated to go begin the life journey they are meant to have, and to be a blessing in the world, which is essentially the journey all Jewish people are meant to have.
First line: L’chi lach, to a land that I will show you. Last line: L’chi lach…
If you have friends with a guitar or other instruments, be sure to hit them up!
Why make an account and save your favorite JewBelong stuff? Because someday Jack is going to get off his ass and pop the question and you’re going to get to plan that wedding you've been thinking about since third grade.
It makes us happy to know that you’re back. Have a great day!
Because why use any of your precious brain cells to remember where you kept those great readings that you’ll use someday at Jeffrey’s B Mitzvah? Make an account, keep the readings there. Easy peasy. The only thing you’ll need to remember is your password, and from personal experience that’s hard enough.
Hey, can you watch the phones on Friday? We have a thing.