Naming Your Baby Boy – A Bris, Berit Mila – Blessing our Newborn Sons

Berit Mila

Judaism places great importance on naming your baby for each new child joining your family. It is believed that the name of a person is closely related to its essence.

When a parent gives a child a name, the parent is giving the child a connection to previous generations.

For our daughters, read Naming Baby Girls
For our Sons with No Bris on the Eighth Day

The Hebrew name is always said aloud or written along with the parents Hebrew names.

Example:
Hershel bar Yosef ve Rifka.
Bar means son of and ve means and.
Hershel, son of Yosep and Rifka.

It is customary for Jewish parents to give their children two names; a secular name and a Hebrew name for religious purposes. Those religious purposes are for naming your baby ceremonies, Hebrew School, Bar Mitzvah , Hebrew High Confirmation, Jewish Wedding.  When called to the Torah for an aliyah, the Rabbi recites the full Hebrew name aloud.  Funeral service including the carved memorial stone, Yahrzeit and Yiskor.

Ashkenazi Jewish custom is to name a new baby after a relative that has passed away. This keeps the name and memory alive, and in a metaphysical way forms a bond between the soul of the baby and the deceased relative. The Jewish custom does not name children after a living relative as those of other faiths with same name generations.

Naming Your Baby Ceremony for Boys
On the eighth day of a baby boy’s life, he will not only receive his Hebrew name, but his parents will bring their child into the divine covenant (binding agreement) between God and the Jewish people with a Berit Mila (in Hebrew), the Covenant of Circumcision; also known as the Bris.

“And G-d spoke to Abraham saying… This is my covenant which you shall keep between me and you and thy offspring after you; Every male child among you shall be circumcised.” (Genesis. 17:12)

The Bris, Berit Mila must take place for an infant boy at eight days of age. If this is performed before the child is eight days old, it is not considered valid. The reasoning behind waiting for eight days is that everything was created in seven days. When a child is eight days old, the child has surpassed the physical world and entered a world far more spiritual. Mila is a sacred religious rite and not merely a hygienic practice. The Jewish parents accept this as a normal part of life.

Traditionally, a Berit Mila or Brit Milah ceremony is to take place during the daylight hours of the eighth day and as early as possible during that day. When a child is born at dusk, the eighth day is counted from the following day.

Most Berit Mila Brit Milah ceremonies take place at home. The Jewish home offers a special significance since it is the home where the child will first learn about Judaism and its customs/rituals. Naming your baby in their first home becomes one of many memorable Jewish life cycles. It is not a requirement to have this ceremony in the home. It can take place in the home of grandparents, or a location where celebrations take place.

The Officiant For A Berit Mila
In Reform Judaism, it is not only the obligation of many mothers and fathers, but it is more widespread on choosing to have this ceremony regardless of an affiliation with a temple/synagogue.  Judaism encourages a Berit Mila, or Brit Milah. To have it done by a qualified person, a Mohel (Jewish practitioner of circumcision), a pious, observant Jew educated in the relevant Jewish law and in surgical techniques.

  • When not using a Mohel, Rabbi Andrea Frank can Officiate your Naming Ceremony for our Sons – you may contact her here
  • Read the page on the Brit Shalom Naming Ceremony here

 

The Custom of the Jewish Teachings and
Commandment from G-d in the Torah
Circumcision involves surgically removing the foreskin of the penis. A Berit Mila or Brit Milah would not be valid when the child is circumcised in the hospital by a doctor before the eighth day of the child’s life as it is connected to a religious ritual.  (Note: This is the proper teaching of the custom only.)

 

Finding a Mohel is not difficult since Reform Judaism did put together an extensive list for those needing one when a naming your baby ceremony is to take place.

Should A Rabbi Be Present?
A Mohel could in fact be a Rabbi as well as trained to be a Jewish practitioner of Circumcision. It is fine to have a Rabbi present if the family feels more comfortable having he/she to recite the blessings, naming your baby with their Hebrew name, while the Mohel concentrates on the ritual. It’s best to speak to the Mohel, they are trained to answer this type of question as well.

When Should You Contact A Mohel?
For those couples who chose to not know if they will give birth to a baby boy until the day of delivery, then it is the responsibility of the husband, now father, to phone the Mohel after the birth of his son and make arrangements as soon as possible.

It is good practice, before giving birth, to call the Mohel and make an inquiry.  Most Mohel’s have web sites with Instructions when to be contacted.  Remember, this Mohel is performing a ritual on your newborn son and you want to feel as comfortable with your choice as you did when choosing the doctor to assist you with your pregnancy and birth.

Naming Your Baby Ceremony Checklist:

  • The baby boy’s outfit in white
  • An honored family member or Godparent called the Sandek.
  • The Elijah chair; (Elijah is a significant prophet in Judaism).
  • Wine
  • Pillow
  • A festive meal follows the ceremony (don’t forget the Challah bread for the Motzi blessing)

For those parents

For Parents Choosing Not to Have a Bris, but want a Naming Your Baby Ceremony – View the Article on the Brit Shalom Ceremony

Though the custom is to have a Bris and during this ceremony, your newborn baby boy receives his Hebrew Name, it is permissible, encouraged even, to have a naming your baby ceremony. This ceremony can take place with a Rabbi and your newborn baby boy will receive his Hebrew name along with the blessings of our faith.

Parents should not feel uncomfortable for you are choosing what is best for your son either before or soon after he is born. Since it is the parents wishes to have their sons circumcised in the hospital, it does not have to be for those baby boys to not receive the blessings of our faith and receive their Hebrew names with honor.

When parents of baby boys are not affiliated with a temple/synagogue, then this naming baby boy ceremony will either take place in their home or a local establishment, along with a Rabbi on Shabbat. Depending on the Rabbi, he/she will have a traveling Torah and a portable, hand-held traditional Chuppah. A short Shabbat worship service will be conducted along with a brief devar Torah blending in the beautiful baby naming ceremony.

Picture this…

  • Rabbi Andrea Frank’s baby naming ceremony for our sons takes place under the Chuppah because he is brought into the Covenant by his parents as he is brought to the Chuppah on his wedding day.
  • Rabbi Andrea will wrap your sons in a traditional tallit and pray that he will grow in health and goodness. That his life be enriched by the blessings of Torah (study), Chuppah (a good marriage) and Maasim Tovim (good deeds).
  • A beautiful prayer in song will be sung for your son. For we are to praise G-d – for children are a blessing.

This Rabbi will be honored to assist all parents for their sons to be blessed and given a Hebrew name with blessings. Parents will receive a beautiful naming your baby certificate for their son’s first Jewish life cycle ceremony.

The Jewish home offers a special significance since it is the home where the child will first learn about Judaism and its customs/rituals. To schedule your son’s Hebrew baby naming ceremony, contact Rabbi A. Frank

Be an Informed Parent When Circumcising Your Baby Boy
The following results of studies published in OB/GYN News, a monthly publication for OB/GYN practitioners.

The studies conducted regarding the pain inflicted on the baby during this procedure have concluded that they may suffer less and have less stress if circumcised by a Mohel (Jewish practitioner of circumcision). The Mohel uses a Mogen clamp and the physician uses a Gomco clamp. Many babies didn’t cry at all when the Mogen clamp was used and over 60% cried when a Gomco clamp was used. The oxygen levels were higher when a Mogen clamp was used. This indicates that stress levels were low.

This new life is celebrated and wished all the health and happiness in life. The birth of a child is truly a miracle and should be rejoiced.

When you do not have a Rabbi in your neighboring community, Rabbi A. Frank is available to assist you.

Tell Us About Your
Baby Boy’s Naming Ceremony

Everyone loves stories involving babies, and we’d love to hear yours!

What name did you choose for your baby boy and why? How did you celebrate? What were the highlights of your ceremony?

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