The birth of a baby is a most exciting and joyous time for parents and wider family. Jewish tradition has a number of rituals to welcome a newborn into the word and we explore some of them below. Your Rabbi or Rebbetzen will be able to offer further support.
For a baby girl
- A baby girl is often given a Hebrew name in shul, in the Torah reading section on either Monday, Thursday or Shabbat mornings. A special blessing is said for the mother’s health, followed by the baby naming. You should contact your local shul to arrange this.
- Simchat Bat is a ceremony welcoming a baby girl, often held at home. A Hebrew name can be given as part of this ceremony, but the other sections of the ceremony can also take place even if a Hebrew name has been given in shul already. Contact your local shul to connect with the Rabbi and Rebbetzen there for further advice.
For a baby boy
- On the first Friday night after a baby boy is born, some people hold a ‘Shalom Zachar’ (lit. welcoming the male) where a group will gather at the baby’s home or elsewhere to eat, drink and wish ‘shalom’ to the baby on his first Shabbat.
- Eight days after birth (unless medical advice is to the contrary) a baby boy must have a circumcision, Brit Milah (aka “Bris”). The baby is named at the Brit as well, and the ceremony is followed by a celebratory meal which includes a special addition to bensching (blessing after a meal). The Brit Milah is performed by a mohel.
- We recommend mohalim (plural of mohel) professionally trained and licensed by the Initiation Society. Detailed information about the Brit Milah and how to organise it can be found on the Initiation Society’s What is a Brit Milah webpage. Make sure to also tell your rabbi and local shul about the wonderful news of the new baby.
- A first born male (not a Kohen or Levi) who was born in certain specific circumstances should have a Pidyon HaBen (Redeeming the Son) ceremony. This is where the father of the baby ‘redeems’ his son from an obligation to work in the Temple, by giving a Kohen five ‘silver coins’ – usually this is given in an equivalent modern currency. You should consult your local rabbi to find out if your son qualifies for the Pidyon HaBen.
Don’t forget join your baby up to Tribe, the United Synagogue’s Young People’s Department, so that you can also receive a baby gift pack here.