Traditionally, a Jewish baby girl naming takes place the first time that the Torah is read after they are born. The father is called to the Torah for an "Aliyah" (to be honored by reading the blessings before and after the torah is read), in many cases, the mother may still be in the hospital and little pomp and circumstance follows the event.
More and more we are seeing beautiful and memorable Jewish Baby Naming ceremonies (also called a "Simchat Bat" - Celebration of a Daughter or "Zeved HaBat" - Gift of a Daughter) accompanied by a wonderful celebration. Jewish baby naming ceremonies are generally held in synagogues or homes and officiated by Rabbis, Cantors or Mohels. We have provided an example of a Jewish Baby Naming Ceremony that incorporates both Ashkenazic and Sephardic traditions, and at the end, a few ideas for personalizing your Jewish Naming Ceremony.
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SAMPLE JEWISH BABY NAMING CEREMONY
Setting (Sephardic Tradition):The parents stand under a chupa (wedding canopy) with the baby, or a talis is held over them by 4 family members or friends to represent a chupa. The baby can also be wrapped in a talis. Many people use the talis of the father or a grandfather.
Rabbi or Officiant Explains (Excerpts from the following adapted from the writings of Rabbi Shraga Simmons of Aish HaTorah):
The birth of a daughter is a great blessing because it is through the woman that life is perpetuated. We therefore view the naming of a daughter as a celebration of the continuation of the Jewish People, Jewish Traditions and Jewish Values. The chupa represents the Jewish home, and we now bring (Baby’s English Name) under the chupa with her parents, surrounded by family and friends, as they welcome her into this covenant.”
The Torah tells us that Abraham was blessed with "everything" (Genesis 24:1). The Talmud explains that this great blessing was a baby girl (Baba Batra 16b).
Why is a baby girl considered "everything" and singled out for great praise?
With the blessing of a baby daughter comes a realization of the fullness of life. As the song says: "thank heaven for little girls." The Jewish people have always 'thanked heaven' for Jewish women, because our survival as a nation has been primarily because of Jewish women. From the birth of our nation, our Matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel & Leah guided us through familial challenges. During our slavery in Egypt the women kept their faith and continued to have children despite the bleak circumstances. Our heroines in the stories of Chanukkah & Purim are Esther Yehudit. At every crucial juncture in our history, Jewish women have come to the forefront, steering the Jewish people in the right direction.
Celebrating the birth of a Jewish girl is a celebration of Jewish survival, Jewish values, and Jewish destiny. Therefore, we recite the Sheva Brachot, the 7 Blessings that are said under the chupa for a bride and groom who are beginning a new life and family. In this way we give thanks for this beautiful new life, keeper of our traditions and the family.
Sheva Brachot(Each Sheva Bracha is given to a different family member or friend as an honor)
Blessed are You, Adonai, our God, King of the Universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine.
Blessed are You, Adonai, our God, King of the universe, Who has created everything for your glory.
Blessed are You, Adonai, our God, King of the universe, Creator of man.
Blessed are You Adonai, who brings intense joy and exultation to the barren one (Jerusalem) through the in gathering of her children amidst her in gladness.
Blessed are You, Adonai, who gladdens the beloved companions as You gladdened Your creatures in the garden of Eden. Blessed are You Who causes the groom to rejoice with his bride.
Blessed are You, Adonai, our God, King of the universe, Who created joy and gladness, groom and bride, mirth, glad song, pleasure, delight, love, brotherhood, peace, and companionship. Adonai, our God, let there soon be heard in the cities of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem the sound of joy and the sound of gladness, the voice of the groom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the grooms' jubilance from their canopies and of the youths from their song-filled feasts.
Rabbi or Officiant Explains:The mother will now recite the Birchat Ha-Gomel, thanking G-d for bringing her safely through the birth.
I thank you for a healthy pregnancy, a safe delivery and
Baruch ata Adonai elohaynu melach haolam, hagomelet l’hayavim tovot, sheg’malani kol tov, selah.
Blessed are You O Lord our God ruler of the Universe, who bestows kindness on those who are committed, and who has granted to me all kindness.
Amen. Mi she g’maltaich kol tov, hee tigmalaich kol tov
Amen. May the One who has granted you all kindness always grant kindness to you.
Rabbi or Officient Recites the Naming Prayer (Choose Askenazic or Sephardic):
Eloheinu ve'elohei imoteinu ka'yemi et ha'yalda ha'zot le'aviha u'leima ve'tikrei shmah be'yisrael ___________. Yis'mach ha'av be'yotzet chalatzav ve'tagel ha'em bi'fri bitnah. Ka'ka'tuv: yismach-avikha ve'imekha ve'tagel yolad'tekha. Timkhiya ve'he'chezikiya be'etz chayim kirviah le'toratekha limdiya mitzvotekha ve'horiya d'rakhekha. heti libah le'ahavah ule'yikrah et shmekha. hodu la'donai ki tov ki le'olam chasdo zot haktana ____________ gdolah te'hiyeh. k'shem she'nikhnesah la'brit ken tikanes le'torah ul'chupah ul'ma'asim tovim.
Our God and God of our ancestors, sustain this child for her father and mother. Let her be called in Israel _____________ daughter of _____ and ______. May the father rejoice in his offspring and may her mother rejoice in the fruit of her womb. Let your parents be happy; let she who bore you rejoice. Give thanks to God; God's mercy is constant. May this little one, ____________, be big. As she has entered into the covenant, so may she enter into a life of Torah, loving relationships and good deeds.
Mi she'bercha I'moteinu Sarah, Rivkah, Rachel v'Leah u Miryam han'viah, va' Avigayil v'Ester bat Avichayil hee t'vareich et ha naarah ha n'imah hazot v v'yikrei sh'mah b'Yisrael _________ bat_________ v' __________
B'mazal tov uvisha'at bracha. Vigadlah bivriut shalom umnuchah l'torah ul'hupah ul'ma'asim tovim. V'yzakeh et aviha v'et imah lirot b'simchatah b'vanim uva'noht, osher v'chavod dshenim v'ra'ananim yinuvun vsayvah v'chein y'hi ratzon v'nomar amen.
May God Who blessed our mothers
Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah,
Miriam the Prophet and Avigayil
bless this beautiful little girl
and let her name be called in Israel____________________________________
Daughter of ______________________and _________________________
at this favorable moment of blessing.
May she be raised in health, peace, and tranquility
To study Torah
To stand under the chupah (if that is her choice)
To do good deeds.
Mother or Father speaks about why they chose the child's name
Parents Recite the Parent’s Prayer (Adapted from the poem by Rabbi Judy Shanks):
Mother & Father: With all our hearts, with all our souls, with all our might
We thank You, God, for the gift of this wonderful child.
With all our hearts, with all our souls, with all our might
We pray for the continued health of this child.
We pray for her to be strong in mind and body,
To grow steadily and sturdily in a home filled with joy.
We pray for her to become a person who greets the world
With passion, courage, humility, humor and patience.
With all our hearts, with all our souls, with all our might
We pray for God to watch over our family.
We pray for the ability to love and nurture this child
To provide for her and to educate her,
To understand her and to allow her the freedom to grow.
The Father then puts his hands on the baby’s head and recites the Birchat Kohanim, The Priestly Blessing:
May God make you like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah.
May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord shine light upon you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord turn towards you and give you peace.
SINGING OF "Siman Tov u'Mazel Tov"
OTHER ELEMENTS THAT CAN BE INCLUDED IN A JEWISH BABY NAMING CEREMONY:
INCLUDE FRIENDS & FAMILY MEMBERSHaving various family members or close friends bring the baby into the room, passing the baby from one to another as a symbol that the baby is part of a larger family and community. This is an honor that is often given to members of couples that are newly married or trying to have children, and is seen as good luck or a blessing for them. It is also considered a blessing for anyone trying to conceive to drink the wine from the kiddush cup that is blessed during the ceremony.
Adding a poem or prayer for the grandparents to read.
GROUP BLESSINGS FOR THE BABYReciting of the "Shehechiyanu":Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech Ha-Olam Shehehchiyahnu vekiyamanu vehegianu lazman ha-zeh.
Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has kept us alive, and sustained us, and enabled us to reach this moment.
Saying or Singing of "Barucha HaBa", "Blessed is she who enters" when the baby is brought into the room or up to the bima. Cantor Marcie Jonas in Boston has written a beautiful version of this song that she performs on her cd "Marcie Jonas - Timeless". She also has a stunning version of the Priestly Blessing which might be a nice ending to the ceremony above.
Yivarechecha Adonai v’yishmarecha.
May God bless you and keep you.
Ya’er Adonai panav eilecha vichunecha.
May God's presence deal kindly with you and be gracious unto you.
Yis’a Adonai panav eilecha v’yashem lecha shalom.
May God's presence radiate upon you and from within you, and give you peace.
BLESSINGS FOR THE MOTHERMother Recites from the Song of Songs (2:14) and if it is a first born daughter also (6:9):
My dove in the clefts of the rocks
Hidden by the cliff
Let me see who you are,
Let me hear your voice,
Your sweet voice,
Your radiant face.
For a first born daughter One alone is my dove, my perfect one,
The darling of her mother,
The delight of her who bore her.
Daughters saw her — they acclaimed her,
Queens and consorts — they sang her praises
The following is a prayer for the mother written by Shelley List and Yael Penkower:
Master of the creation: You have made me your partner in creating a new life on this great and wonderful day. My heart is filled with joy! Let my husband and family stand with me and praise Your mercy. For You did not desert me in my wailing, nor forget me in labor: but You fashioned from this great pain a great joy and covered my cries with the birth cries of a tender infant.
May it be your will, my God and God of the fore-mothers, to guard the life of this boy/girl from sickness and accident and sustain him/her. Heal me, his/her mother, and give me strength for his/her sake; since this boy/girl trusts in me to nurture and protect him/her, I must trust in You to nurture and protect me.
Help me be diligent for the sake of my child. Fill me with patience and fairness, and let me act correctly toward him/her. Let me nourish him/her with food, with love, and words of your Torah. And may all my fears be like smoke without fire, like clouds with no rain, which scatter before your loving spirit.
RECOGNITION OF ELIJAH'S CHAIR(Kisei Eliyahu ha-Navi) and the presence of Elijah The Prophet
At every Bris, Elijah the Prophet is an honored guest. Elijah was zealous in his keeping of the mitzvah of Brit Milah and G-d declared him "champion of the convenant". Elijah is present to ensure that the mitzvah is performed and the baby has entered into the covenant. Since the naming of a girl is seen as their entry into the covenant, many people have a chair for Elijah the Prophet.