Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Celebrating A Daughter

On his 8th day of life, a baby boy has his brit mila (circumcision) and is given a Jewish name. But how do Jews celebrate the birth of a girl? While there are no mandatory rituals in honor of a Jewish girl’s birth, it is customary to name her at the first Torah reading after her birth (Shabbat, Monday or Thursday).

There are additional customs of celebration, as well, depending on one’s background or community.

In traditional Ashkenazic society, there is a strong custom that the parents sponsor a special kiddush (refreshments for the congregation or community) after services on a Shabbat within one year of the girl's birth. In this way, the parents not only publicly celebrate the great gift they have been given, but also give their friends and neighbors the opportunity to offer their blessings to the child and to the family.

There is a Sephardic custom called the Zeved Ha'bat (The Gift of a Daughter), which is a combination of both a formal feast and baby naming. Over the last few decades, many non-Sephardic North American communities have also begun to celebrate what is called a Shalom Bat (Welcoming a Daughter) similar to the Zeved Ha'bat.

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