Sites help with ceremonies to welcome newborn girlsby MARK MIETKIEWICZ
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Earlier this month, we looked at some of the online resources for a brit milah. The birth of a girl or a boy are both wonderful simchas, which have been marked by different religious observances. A boy will have a brit, perhaps preceded by the Shalom Zachar ("Welcome to the Baby Boy") -- http://www.shemayisrael.co.il/childrens/zachor -- a party held on the first Friday evening after the birth.
But what about the girls?
Traditionally, the baby girl is named on the next day the Torah is read. The father is called to the Torah, special prayers and blessings are recited on behalf of the mother and the newborn baby. And at that point, the baby's name is formally announced. The tradition is explained at http://www.emoil.com/ girl.htm
The questions "Why isn't there a corresponding ceremony for girl?" --
http://www.circumcision.net/FAQ.htm#-- suggests that there isn't a corresponding ceremony to the brit milah because "the female gives expression to this spiritual covenant through a lifetime commitment to the Torah laws governing Family Purity...Moreover, all privileges connected to this covenant accrue to the girl from the moment she is born."
However, in recent years, many parents have felt a need to hold more elaborate ceremonies welcoming their Jewish daughters into the world. These baby-naming celebrations may be called brit bat, brit banot Yisrael, simchat bat or Seder Zeved HaBat, the Sephardi naming ritual for girls.
Cantor Philip Sherman suggests on http://www.kolot.com/FS1999/girlborn.shtml that a celebration is appropriate any time before the girl's first birthday. "Parents may wish to have a special gathering at a later date to afford the new mother and baby the opportunity to share in the celebration. On Shabbat, a Kiddush or luncheon may be held in the synagogue following services. In addition to the meal, the new parents may offer a few words describing their feelings about the birth of their daughter, perhaps including an explanation of the baby's Jewish name(s). No event such as this is complete without a d'var Torah, a brief exposition relating to the portion of the week or other relevant Jewish themes."
Greg and Carolyn Priest-Dorman of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., wanted to create their own ceremony for the birth of Leora Rose -- http://www.cs.vassar.edu/~priestdo/ZevedHaBat.html But instead of creating a brand new ceremony, they decided to adapt the Sephardi Seder Zeved HaBat (Gift of a Daughter), which "expressed the sense of joy and wonder we felt at being parents of a girl-child." They timed their celebration to coincide with the birkat halevanah, the blessing preceding the appearance of the new moon, which they "felt achieved the perfect balance of traditional Jewish ritual with the almost universal human equation of women and the cycles of the moon."
Tova Gabrielle Wilensky was born at 12:51 p.m. on Thursday, April 30, 1998, on Israel's 50th birthday. A month later, her family celebrated Tova's arrival -- http://www.clarityconnect.com/webpages/wilensky/naming.htm The ceremony concluded with the hopes that all Jewish parents could echo: "We dedicate our child to Torah, to a never-ending fascination with study and learning. With a book, she will never be alone. We dedicate our child to chuppah, to never-ending growth as a human being capable of giving and receiving love. With a loving friend, she will never be alone. We dedicate our child to ma'asim tovim, to a never-ending concern for family and community, justice and charity. If she cares for others, she will never be alone."
The writer is a Toronto-based television producer who writes, lectures and teaches about the Jewish Internet. He can be reached at
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