Natalie Portman's Directorial Debut & Paper Towns' Nat WolffBy Gerri Miller
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There is no commandment in the Hebrew Bible to welcome Jewish girls in a particular ceremony, so over the centuries a wide variety of ceremonies have been developed. In India, parents decorate their home with flower blossoms floating in water. In Turkey, and originally in Medieval Spain, guests at the Las Fadas ceremony would pass around the baby girl and say a blessing and speak of their hope for the new child.
Until the ‘70s, the only widespread ritual for welcoming girls in the U.S. was a brief ceremony where fathers, or both parents, would go to synagogue and have a blessing recited expressing hope that the girl grows up in good health, learns Torah, marries under a wedding canopy and does good deeds. (See Blessing for Entering Baby into the Covenant.)
In 1973, the first welcoming ceremony for girls was created by an innovative Jewish couple, Michael and Sharon Strassfield. Since then, countless variations and adaptations of the ritual (sometimes known as simchat bat or kabbalat bat) have sprung up, and it is now common among both liberal and Orthodox Jews to hold welcoming ceremonies for their baby daughters. There is no equivalent to a mohel for girls.
While there is no fixed form or required content for a simchat bat, a common structure has emerged, often in this sequence: