Bris Milah and Baby Naming

B’rit milah, (literally, “covenant of circumcision”), also called a bris, refers to a religious ritual through which male babies are formally welcomed into the Jewish people. According to Jewish tradition, it is a parent’s obligation to circumcise a son and offer a threefold blessing for the child: a life enriched by Torah, the wedding canopy (chuppah), and good deeds. Today, a mohel or mohelet is routinely designated by parents to fulfill this custom.  At a bris, a baby boy is brought into the covenant between God and the Jewish People, in fulfillment of the command given by God to Abraham.  Please let Am Shalom know if you would like to have your Brit Milah here at the synagogue. We can help find you a reform mohel to perform the circumcision as well.

If your child has already been circumcised, then we would recommend doing a ceremony bringing the child into the covenant and giving him a Hebrew name.

The Reform Rabbi’s Manual contains a naming ceremony for girls which has all the same blessings and reading for a girl as for a boy, minus the blessing of milah itself. Such ceremonies usually include blessings by the mother thanking God for a safe delivery, by the parents thanking God for a healthy child, and asking for help in raising the child, pledging to raise her Jewishly. Other family members may give blessings or say something, godparents may be honored with holding the baby, as in a brit milah, or may give a blessing. The child’s name is announced, with some explanation of who she was named for or what the significance is of the name. The rabbi or officiant will bless the child, as in a brit milah, and then there is a party.

More simply, the child can be brought to synagogue on Shabbat and be named by the rabbi in front of the ark during services, which is a nice way of making this personal family event also a celebration for the community and a chance for the community to welcome the newest member into the Jewish community.