Birth

Welcoming a New Son or Daughter

The birth of a child symbolizes an important link l’dor va’dor -- from one generation to the next -- both in a family’s chain of tradition as well as that of the Jewish people. In Genesis, Chapter 17 God commanded Abraham to circumcise all males on the eighth day after birth as a sign of the covenant between God and the Jewish people. Today, brit milah continues to be observed as the primary way to ritually enter a male child into our people’s ancient covenant. The ceremony is held on the eighth day and usually takes place at home or in the synagogue. Although it is a father’s obligation to circumcise his son, he may (and usually does) designate this mitzvah to a mohel—one trained to perform ritual circumcision. For more than 20 years, the Reform Jewish Movement has trained physicians to become mohalim/mohalot (www.beritmila.org). Often these doctors are specialists in the areas of obstetrics/gynecology, pediatrics, or urology.

If you'd like to arrange for a brit milah to be held at the synagogue, please contact May-Ling Agosto, (212) 535-8008, Shaaray Tefila's Congregational Liaison. Traditionally, the mohel/mohelet conducts the brit milah service; however, if you desire one of the clergy to participate in the service, please contact Rabbi Mosbacher's assistant.

Traditionally, when a girl is born, on the Shabbat following her birth, her father goes to the synagogue and is called to the Torah for an aliyah (honor of reciting the Torah blessings). Following the Torah reading, a special prayer (Mishebeirach) is offered at which time the baby’s Hebrew name is announced. Today, girls are welcomed into the Jewish covenant through a variety of naming ceremonies.

Here at Shaaray Tefila, baby girls and boys can be named at the Shabbat morning worship service. If a Bar or Bat Mitzvah is scheduled the same Shabbat as the baby naming, the service is conducted in the main sanctuary. If the baby naming is scheduled on a Shabbat without a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, the worship service is held in the chapel. The baby naming takes place during the Torah service. Accompanied by the baby and other children, the parents are called to a special parents' prayer. The Rabbi formerly welcomes the baby into the Jewish community, blesses him/her, announces his/her Hebrew name, and mentions for whom the baby has been named.

For families who desire a naming at home, there are a number of liturgies that have been written which incorporate both prayer and ritual into the service. One such ceremony involves rechitzat raglaim -- washing the baby’s feet -- reminiscent of Abraham who washed the feet of the strangers (angels) who came to predict Isaac’s birth. Please contact any of the clergy to discuss naming ceremony options for your child.

To schedule a date for your daughter's naming in the synagogue, or to inquire about a home naming ceremony, please contact Rabbi Mosbacher's assistant.

In recent years, more and more couples are finding adoption as the pathway to creating a Jewish family. In many instances the baby’s birth mother is not Jewish, and the parents may be concerned about the baby’s Jewish status. If you are considering adoption, please contact one of the rabbis to discuss the appropriate way to welcome your newest family member into the convenant of the Jewish people.