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BRIT MILAH & BABY NAMING Guide


Brit Milah for Boys

The brit is performed anytime between sunrise and sunset on the eighth day from when the child was born. The brit may be delayed for health reasons, but is performed as soon as the baby's health is stabilized. In an Orthodox or traditional ceremony, the baby is brought in by the mother who hands the baby to a designated woman who hands the baby to a designated man; they are referred to as the the messengers or kvatters). The kvatters are usually a married couple. The male kvatter brings the baby to the spot where the circumcision will occur. After the circumcision is complete, the reverse order of handing the baby takes place.

The Actual Ceremony

Some synagogues have a decorative chair for this purpose: The Chair of Elijah (Elijahu). An adult male is honored by placing the baby on the designed chair and the mohel who will perform the circumcision chants, “This is the seat of Elijah…” He asks that Elijah stand to his right and protect him, so nothing will go wrong during the circumcision. Another male lifts the infant from the chair of Elijah and hands him to the father who places the baby on the lap of the sandek, his representative, who will hold the baby during the circumcision. Once seated, the sandek's hands are sanitized, and he is instructed how to position the baby and himself during the procedure.
The father who is now standing next to the mohel picks up the surgical knife and hands it to the mohel. He state that he appoints the mohel as his messenger to perform the circumcision. The mohel recites the blessing, “Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us concerning circumcision.”
The father recites the blessing, “Blessed are You, L rd our G d, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to enter him into the Covenant of Abraham our father.” People present respond, “Just as he has entered into the Covenant, so may he enter into Torah, into marriage, and into good deeds." A second sandek or standing sandek,” holds the baby as the mohel recites the blessings over a cup of wine and dips drops of wine into the baby's mouth, the name of the child is given. A festive meal is held in order to add to the simcha (joy) of bringing a new Jewish child into the covenant. Bread is provided as with all festive meals. Wine is also served. The father of the infant gives a short talk on a topic related to circumcision. Grace After Meals is recited, including six blessings specifically for the brit for the parents, sandek, baby, mohel, Moshiach, and Elijah.

Baby Naming Ceremony for Girls

In the Ashkenazi community, traditionally following the birth, the father announces the baby girl's name in the synagogue on Shabbat, Monday, or Thursday or other occasion when the Torah is read. . Often a kiddush is held for family and friends. Some communities celebrate the birth of a girl with a new ceremony known as a Simchat Bat or a Brit Bat. The celebration typically consists of a communal welcoming, a naming done over a cup of wine with the quotation of appropriate Biblical verses, and traditional blessings. There are many other practices by different sects of Judaism.
In the Sephardi community, the mother attends the synagogue to express her thanksgiving for deliverance from danger. Song of Songs may be said, along with the naming prayer and additional psalms.
“The one Who blessed (our mothers,) Sarah and Rivkah, Rachel and Leah, and the prophet Miriam and Abigayil and Queen Esther, daughter of Abichayil — may He bless this beloved girl and let her name (in Israel) be ... [insert first name here] with good luck and in a blessed hour; and may she grow up with good health, peace and tranquility; and may her father and her mother merit to see her joy and her wedding, and male children, riches and honour; and may they be vigorous and fresh, fruitful into old age; and so may this be the will, and let it be said, Amen!”.


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