Bris & Baby Naming Ceremonies

BRIS & BABY NAMING CEREMONIES

Leaf imageA Brit Milah (“covenant of circumcision”), popularly known as a Bris, is a very ancient ceremony, going all the way back to the Biblical figure, Abraham, the father of the Jewish People. This ceremony, which affirms the original Brit, or Covenant, between G-d and the Jewish people, has been continually practiced for almost 4000 years! Typically performed on the eighth day of a baby boy’s life, it is a tradition of Jewish male identity. A Hebrew name is also bestowed on the child at this time.

. . . the giving of a Hebrew name is cause for great joy and happiness, because it means that another precious child has been born . . . and has been entered into the sacred covenant with G-d.
— Rabbi Wayne Dosick

A Bris requires a Mohel (usually a male physician who is carefully trained in ritual circumcision.) Many Mohelim (plural) conduct the entire Brit Milah service, as well as the circumcision itself; other times, a rabbi is called in to lead the ceremonial prayers while the Mohel does only the circumcision. I have co-officated with Mohelim on many occasions.

I am also available on a consulting basis, to help you decide on a Hebrew name for your child. A well-chosen Hebrew name is an important asset to Jewish identity for several reasons (more on this in the section below).

I can also create a customized naming certificate for you.

Here is a helpful resource for finding a mohel in your area: www.beritmila.org

The Babynaming Ceremony

Families who do not opt for circumcision, or whose male child was circumcised in the hospital, or who wish to initiate a baby girl into her Jewish heritage, will hold a Babynaming Ceremony. A much newer tradition involving naming ceremonies for girls is usually held at thirty days, rather than the eight days for boys.

A name tells a story . . . a name [is like] a book. It captures a person’s character and personality. It describes everyone’s mission on earth. It contains a prophecy as well as a powerful, potential blessing. It is the only possession we have that remains with us even after death. For a parent, it is the most valuable gift we can ever give to a child.
— Rabbi Benjamin Blech

Many families hold naming or welcoming ceremonies for both boys and girls at thirty days during a regular Torah service at their synagogue or Temple. However, because of its length, the need for the ceremony to take place on the eight day of life, and its personal nature, the Brit Milah is usually held at home. A Babynaming ceremony can also be held at home.

I can help you create a “welcome to the world” ceremony for your child that will be a meaningful rendition of this ancient tradition.

And, as mentioned above, I also offer guidance in the art of carefully choosing a Hebrew name for your child. This is an area of specialization for me, something I greatly enjoy.

Your child’s Hebrew name will be the way in which they become known in the Jewish community, and will accompany then through all the various lifecycle events of their life: for Bar or Bat Mitzvah, being called for an aliyah (the honor of being asked to read the Torah publicly), for Confirmation (in Reform practice), marriage, divorce (we hope not!), and in end of life rituals.

leaf imageEven more importantly, it is a Jewish belief that one’s Hebrew name, unlike the “outer name” one presents to the world at large, is the name of the essence of one’s neshama (innermost soul). As such, this name has the power to help create or fulfill a person’s destiny in life. A full Hebrew name consists of one or two names given to the child, followed by the word ben (“son of”) or bat (“daughter of”), followed by one or both Hebrew names of the parents. (Examples: David ben Tuvia, Sharona bat Naomi, Natan ben Ariel u’Miriam.)

Each star in Heaven has a name and gives its own particular light. Similarly, each child is a star in G-d’s spiritual firmament with a name that defines the type of light he or she gives to the world.
— The S’fat Emet

In ancient times, Jewish people did not have a secular, or “outer” name. For the past several centuries, however, Jewish people have both a secular name, (first, middle, last) and an “inner” Hebrew name.

So, for example, a girl could be named Tiffany Ann Lewis (her secular name), with the Hebrew name of Tiferet Chana bat Yitzchak v’Dasya (Tiferet Chana daughter of Isaac and Dasya.)

Many different customs and traditions abound in order to help parents make this important decision. I am happy to consult with you to explain these traditions, or help you create your own.

As part of any Bris or Babynaming Ceremony, I can also create a personalized Naming Certificate, from the simple to the artistically embellished.

My honorarium for A Bris or Babynaming depends of my level of involvement. To schedule an initial session or for more information, please feel free to call me at [916] 442-7315,
or email me at info@rabbishulastevens.net.
Or, visit my CONTACT page.
I would love to hear from you.
Midtown Sacramento | info@rabbishulastevens.net | [916] 442-7315