The birth of a son or daughter is one of life’s most wondrous moments. Beth David is delighted to share that simchah with families celebrating their newest addition.
The birth of a boy presents the immediate need of arranging for the Brit Milah, which normally occurs on the 8th day of the baby’s life, even should that day fall on Shabbat, a Festival, Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur. Exceptions to that rule occur when the birth is a c-section, based on the traditional understanding that it may not have been intended that the baby be born that day, so the Brit is postponed to the Sunday (if born on Shabbat), or the day after the Festival. The same exception would apply when the baby is born “beyn ha-shemashot,” in the twilight period on the eve of the Sabbath or Festival, when there is doubt as to whether the baby was born on the outgoing or incoming day (i.e., on Friday or the Eve of Shabbat).
A qualified mohel will always ascertain the time of birth and offer the appropriate scheduling. Feel free to be in touch with Rabbi Scheim for mohel recommendations. (Should the mother of the baby be a convert to Judaism through Conservative auspices, it is especially important to consult with Rabbi Scheim to insure that the mohel you choose will recognize your conversion.) The Greater Toronto area is blessed with several excellent mohalim, most of whom are MD’s, which adds a measure of comfort to parents.
Britot often take place at home, but many families choose to host their ceremonies at the synagogue. Feel free to contact the Beth David office for information regarding shun-based britot, catering options, etc.
No less wonderful, of course, is the birth of a daughter, which from a ritual standpoint, is simpler than that of a son. It is customary to name a baby daughter in synagogue, when Torah is read (Shabbat morning, or afternoon/evening; Monday or Thursday morning). The parents, and new-born daughter, are called up for the aliyah, after which the traditional naming blessing is recited. Unlike a brit, there is no strict time-table as to when the naming takes place, but earlier is always preferable to later. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, we recommend that the naming take place in the first month of your daughter’s life, allowing time for both parents to be able to be present. Boys are named at the time of the brit, and are named in synagogue when medical circumstances necessitate lengthy postponement of the circumcision.
Names: Of course, one of the more challenging aspects of bringing a new life into the world is the choice of an appropriate name. Rabbi Scheim is always happy to discuss naming options with expectant parents. Even though Jewish law has little to say about names, there are prevailing customs about which most people are aware. Ashkenazi Jews tend to avoid naming after living relatives, while many Sephardic communities name babies after living relatives, especially grandparents. When choosing a name, we encourage using Hebrew names, which sometimes means translating a grandparent or great-grandparent’s name from Yiddish to Hebrew, i.e. Roiza becoming Shoshana, or Volf becoming Ze’ev. Most of all, it is recommended that one choose a name that the child will carry with pride, and ideally, put to frequent use.