This is the first of the lifecycle observances in Jewish tradition. In it we express joy and thanksgiving for the birth of the child and publicly declare our commitment to raise the child in the covenant between G-d and the people Israel, exclusively as a Jew. The child is brought into the covenant of Abraham and Sarah with a Hebrew name and we express our hopes and commitments for the child’s future.
We celebrate the birth of a child – or an adoption into one’s family – with a joyful naming ceremony that treats baby boys and girls equally. We include lovely readings, a parent(s)’ pledge, and the naming itself, which explains the origins of the name and our hopes for the newborn child.
There are many traditions associated with the birth of a child that we, as cultural Jews, feel free to adopt, adapt or discard altogether. While some make links to the past by naming after a relative, others have freely chosen names without such connections. While it is traditional for the naming to be conducted on the eighth day after birth we are not bound by that timetable.
Also, in Humanistic Judaism, circumcision is not a requirement for Jewish identity; some parents preserve this practice while others do not. For those who do, this procedure is generally conducted in the hospital and is followed later on by a separate and beautiful naming ceremony. There are several ways to involve family and to add special prayers and rituals that the Rabbi can explain prior to the ceremony.
Often, families will approach and plan for these traditions prior to the child’s birth to be able to learn meanings and discuss family needs. Rabbi Mitch will be delighted to meet with individuals and couples planning for their child’s Brit Milah or Baby Naming. He can offer thoughtful input to families deciding on how to proceed with plans for their child’s Jewish upbringing, including resources, workshops, classes, books and websites of interest to interfaith couples, those planning to adopt a child or other diverse families in our community.