Welcoming a Son

Eight days after the birth of a son, parents enter their baby boy into the covenant between the Jewish people and G-d through the ritual of brit milah (literally, the “covenant of circumcision”). According to our tradition, this practice began with Abraham. The brit milah (also known by its Yiddish shorthand, bris) is a positive commandment of the Torah, and is carried out even if the eighth day falls on Shabbat, a Festival, or Yom Kippur — it’s just that important!

The ritual is performed by a mohel (a religious specialist in circumcision) in either the home or synagogue. The ceremony consists of a blessing recited by the mohel upon performing the milah, blessings recited by a parent or parents, and a blessing in which the boy is given his Hebrew name. Following the ceremony, many families share a festive seudat mitzvah (a sacred meal shared after a communal mitzvah or other joyous event).

It is customary for the family to be invited to the synagogue sometime after the brit milah is performed so that they can be given an aliyah (be called to the Torah) and the baby can be introduced to the greater community and offered a rabbinic blessing.

 To schedule a brit milah, please email the CBS office.

Welcoming a Daughter

Traditionally, in Ashkenazi communities, daughters were welcomed into the community at the synagogue. A father was honored with an aliyah, a prayer was said for the health of the mother and daughter, and the girl was named.

Because Congregation Beth Sholom is an egalitarian synagogue, we do things a little differently. In our community, mothers and fathers are together called to the Torah for an aliyah with the baby girl. Mothers may also choose to publicly recite birkat hagomel, the blessing said upon safely passing through a dangerous experience such as childbirth.

There is no prescribed time for holding a covenant ceremony for a daughter; many families choose a time that is most convenient to gather relatives and friends. We suggest that you not wait too long, for this ritual is intended to both name the child and welcome her into the covenant of the Jewish people. CBS clergy can assist with covenant and naming ceremonies that may be performed in the synagogue or the home. We encourage families to draw on the wealth of innovative ritual and liturgy available so that they can design a ceremony that is personally meaningful.

To schedule a naming ceremony, please email the CBS office.