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Additional Ideas for Ceremony

 

Return to the Guide to Birth Ceremonies for Interfaith Families.

 

It is customary to light candles in the room where the brit or simchat bat is to take place.

From Daniel Margolis, Patty Margolis, Michael Strassfeld and Sharon Strassfeld

It is custom to set aside a chair for the prophet Elijah (who is called the angel of covenant and is reputed to be the protector of little children).

From Daniel Margolis, Patty Margolis, Michael Strassfeld and Sharon Strassfeld

It is customary for everyone but the godfather (sandek) who is holding the baby to remain standing during the ceremony.

From Daniel Margolis, Patty Margolis, Michael Strassfeld and Sharon Strassfeld

Create a program for participants and spectators to follow along with. At the front of the program, include a brief list of the participants in the ceremony. The guide can also include information about, or pictures of, the child's namesake and/or a family tree.

Adapted from Debra Nussbaum Cohen

At the end of the ceremony, wrap the parents and children in a big tallis, and have all the grandparents hold the tallis around their kids and grandkids, and have them repeat the Threefold Benediction after the mohel, saying it to their kids: "May God bless you and keep you…"

Submitted by Rabbi Lev Baesh

Have the mother and father of the child write a letter to the child about the name they have chosen and who the name comes from. The letter includes stories, memories, and qualities of that person. I ask the parents to read the letter at the ceremony and to save it in their baby book to give to the child at Bat or Bar Mitzvah, or another important life cycle event.

Submitted by Rabbi Lev Baesh

I ask the parents to choose a person from both families to name the child after, giving the child a first and middle name. It is easy to find a Hebrew cognate to any English or other language based name. By naming after both families, they know that both families are respected and represented in their child.

Submitted by Rabbi Lev Baesh

At the end of the ceremony, thank the non-Jewish grandparents for their love and support as a way of recognizing their willingness to have their grandchild take part in a Jewish birth ceremony.

The Guide to Birth Ceremonies for Interfaith Families is also available in PDF or Word formats.

Hebrew for "son of the commandments." In modern Jewish practice, Jewish boys come of age at 13. When a boy comes of age, he is officially a bar mitzvah and considered an adult. The term is commonly used as a short-hand for the bar mitzvah's coming-of-age ceremony and/or celebration. The female equivalent is "bat mitzvah." Hebrew for "daughter's celebration," a modern term for a naming ceremony for baby girls. A language of West Semitic origins, culturally considered to be the language of the Jewish people. Ancient or Classical Hebrew is the language of Jewish prayer or study. Modern Hebrew was developed in the late-19th and early 20th centuries as a revival language; today it is spoken by most Israelis.
Hebrew for ?godfather,? the word is specific to the role of holding the baby during a brit milah ceremony. Yiddish for "prayer shawl," a ritual item that is worn and has knotted fringes (tzitzit) attached to the four corners. Hebrew for "circumciser" (Yiddish term is "moyel"), the person who performs a ritual circumcision. The feminine form is "mohelet." Hebrew for "my master," the term refers to a spiritual leader and teacher of Torah. Often, but not always, a rabbi is the leader of a synagogue congregation. Hebrew for "covenant," often referring to the ritual for Jewish boys when they are 8 days old ("brit milah" - "covenant of circumcision"). It is commonly known as "bris," which is the Ashkenazi or Yiddish pronunciation of "brit."
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