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Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

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< Q21.1.7 TOC Q21.1.9 >

Question 21.1.8:
Entering the Covenant: What are our options for welcoming our new baby girl?

Answer:

A number of options are available. Traditionally, a baby girl is named the first time the father attends synagogue after the birth. In some communities, the mother recites a blessing of gratitude for her health and well-being after childbirth; and the father is called to the Torah. In other communities, there are more elaborate ceremonies. In the Sephardi communities of Turkey and the Balkans, infants are clothed in elaborate dress and jewelry. The ceremony has no fixed date, but is usually held sometime between seven and thirty days after birth, and is conducted by a rabbi, usually at home but sometimes in the synagogue. Several central Asian Jewish communities celebrate the first time an infant girl is laid in her cradle. In Bokhara, for example, small children are called to participate in snatching away the sweet treats that have been placed around the baby in the cradle. In the Bene Israel community in India, the naming ceremony usually takes place on the twelfth day after a girl is born. Held in the home, the ritual is intended primarily for the women and children of the family. A special new garment is sewn for the child, and her cradle, decorated with flowers and colored paper, is placed in the middle of the house. Cooked chickpeas, peeled pieces of coconut, and cookies are arranged along the inner edges of the cradle. In the Yishuv HaYashan (the community of Ashkenazic Jews who settled in Jerusalem beginning in 1811), the celebration took place on the eighth day, and the baby girl's ears were pierced. [Thanks to http://www.mispacha.org/ for the information about ceremonies in other communities.]

In liberal congregations, a number of new ceremonies have been developed to symbolically parallel the brit ceremony; these new ceremonies serve to welcome the infant into the convenant of Judaism.

There are a number of approaches to these berit ceremonies. Some are based on the ceremonial washing of the infant's feet, based on Sarah washing the feet of Abraham. Others involve the use of seven blessings, paralleling the seven blessings of the wedding ceremony. A good source of ideas for such ceremonies is Anita Diamant's The New Jewish Baby Book: Names, Ceremonies & Customs, A Guide For Today's Families; another is Zeved HaBat by Aryeh Cohen (ISBN 965-264-049-2).

These ceremonies usually take place in the home, anywhere between 7 days and 30 days after the birth of the daughter. In Israel, they are often held in a hall, as the whole family and most of the community is invited. There is often a public naming at the synagogue approximately 30 days after the birth of the infant.

In terms of other resources for such ceremonies, the following have been suggested. If you are aware of others to add to this list, please let the FAQ maintainer know.


The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.

[Got Questions?]Hopefully, the FAQ will provide the answer to your questions. If it doesn't, please drop Email to questions@scjfaq.org. The FAQ maintainer will endeavor to direct your query to an appropriate individual that can answer it. If you would like to be part of the group to which the maintainer directs questions, please drop a note to the FAQ maintainer at maintainer@scjfaq.org.

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