We are so happy to help you welcome your new baby to the world! Our rabbis and hazzan are available to work with you to help you plan a brit or a Simchat HaBat (baby naming ceremony.)
What is Brit Milah or a Bris?
The word Brit means “Covenant of Circumcision.” To bring your newborn son into the covenant of Israel, the child is given a physical sign of the bond between the Jewish people and God. The sign attests to the everlasting covenant that God established with Abraham and his descendants (Genesis 17). A brit can be performed by any mohel you choose, at home or here at Shearith. A medical circumcision is not considered a brit milah because it is not done with a religious intention or in a spiritual atmosphere.
The brit milah takes place on the eighth day of a healthy baby’s life, regardless of Shabbat or even Yom Kippur. Though it may be postponed in case of a baby who is weak or ill. In most cases it cannot be rescheduled on holidays or Shabbat. Mornings are customary for the event so the mitzvah is not delayed and guests can attend before going to work.
Although guests are typically welcome, the only people actually required are the parents, who are responsible for their son’s brit milah, the baby, the mohel and the sandek, often a grandfather, whose function is to hold the baby. Other ceremonial roles, such as carrying the baby from and back to the mother, may be distributed among family and close friends. As the infant is carried in, everyone should greet him with Baruch HaBa (blessed is the one who comes), after which prayers and readings may be recited before the kiddush is chanted. Then the baby boy is entered into the covenant, followed by the blessing that he take on the mitzvot of Torah, merit a chuppah and live a life of righteous deeds. Afterwards, the parents or grandparents may wish to speak for a few minutes about the baby’s name. More prayers and readings may be said. Sometimes candles may be lit with accompanying readings or music or you may request a moment of silence for individuals to meditate and pray for their own children, as well as yours. Ritual can be as simple -- as brief as ten minutes -- or as involved as you like. A member of our Klei Kodesh can help you plan the perfect ceremony.
A busy mohel may need advance notice of the approximate time and day of the simcha, so you might want to call ahead to check availability a week after your due date.
What is a Simchat HaBat
You may want to have a Simchat HaBat or a Brit Bat, to formally welcome your daughter into the community. This ceremony can take place at home or at the synagogue. There is not a set time to perform this ceremony.
Simchat HaBat essentially means the joy of a daughter. The Aramaic words for Simchat Bat are Zeved Bat which means the gift of a daughter — God gave me a good present.
Many baby girls are named during Shabbat morning services or any time a minyan is present and we take out the Torah. Some parents choose to hold the ceremony on the eighth day as an egalitarian gesture, while others many wait as long as a few months. At the start of the ceremony, the infant is greeted with Brucha HaBa’a (blessed is she who enters) after which prayers and readings may be recited before the Kiddush is chanted. Then the baby daughter is entered into the covenant, followed by the blessing that she take on the mitzvot of Torah, merit a chuppah and live a life of righteous deeds. Afterwards, the baby’s name is announced and explained. More prayers and readings may ensue. Sometimes candles may be lit with accompanying readings or music or you may request a moment of silence for individuals to meditate and pray for their own children, as well as yours. Our rabbis can help you personalize your Simchat Bat and make it meaningful to your family.
It’s a Party!
Make a l’chaim, have some cake and you can call it a party! If you want to sponsor a kiddush luncheon, that’s great. If your simcha takes place at Shearith Israel, we encourage you to be in touch with our Simcha Coordinator to plan your celebration.
And now that you are a family, it’s time to join our
Family Center! Please contact Rabbi Shira Wallach to discuss how we can help you adjust to your new life stage!