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My weekend was full of babies â€“ and beautiful ways to welcome them into the world.
Saturday started off with a baby naming ceremony for my cousinâ€™s daughter. My cousin is in an interfaith marriage, and they are raising their children Jewish. When it was time for her aliyah (the honor of being called to say the blessing over the Torah reading), the rabbi invited the whole family up, even getting a chair for the new big brother to stand on so he could see the Torah and be part of what was going on. The whole congregation seemed to share in the joy as we welcomed this family and their adorable little girl into the community.
Later that afternoon, I attended a â€śbaby blessingâ€ť party for a friend of mine who is due in July. Neither she nor her husband is Jewish, but they invited all of the guests to share a blessing, poem or song in honor of the parents-to-be and their baby. The husbandâ€™s family is from India so they actually incorporated part of a traditional Indian baby blessing ceremony into the afternoon. The women were invited to paint my friendâ€™s cheeks with sandalwood and her forehead with vermilion. We placed bracelets on her arms and the baby is supposed to be able to hear the clinking sound of the bracelets in the womb. We offered words or songs of blessing for the new parents and for a safe birth.
When I was trying to figure out what words I could offer, I looked at some of InterfaithFamilyâ€™s materials, including our Brit Bat booklet. There I found a familiar prayerâ€”the Shehekhiyanuâ€”said whenever you experience something new or do something for the first time. This was the perfect blessing for me to say in honor of all the friends and family that were gathered for the ceremony and in honor of my friendsâ€™ first born! I was glad to be able to offer something from my Jewish tradition that could resonate with everyone there.
The day was another reminder to me of the beauty of Judaism and the ways it can help us add meaning and joy to the special moments of our life.