In the Chasidic and Orthodox world girls are welcomed into the world by a naming ceremony, no Bris't.


In the early 1970's, feeling a lack of ritual forms for expressing their joy, parents began to create ceremonies to welcome baby girls into the covenant of the Jewish people. What began as a tentative, experimental practice is now so much a part of Jewish life. In fact, ceremonies for baby girls are not new. Sephardic tradition is rich in customs and rituals to celebrate a daughter's birth, including a ceremony called Seder zeved habat, (celebration for the gift of a daughter). Brit habat can take place at home or at the synagogue. If held at home parents usually lead the ceremony, often with a rabbi's assistance. If held at the synagogue the rabbi tends to officiate the ceremony.

In general grandparents are usually given the most important kibbudim (honors) at brit habat ceremonies. For example, the sandek or if a woman sandeket (patron), holds the baby during part of the ceremony, and the kvatterin and kvatter (Godfather), may carry her to and from the room. Generally, parents schedule brit habat for a time when the mother is recovered enough to enjoy the event, thirty days after birth is a popular choice. This interval also has a basis in tradition because the rabbis of the Talmud believed a child was only viable after 30 days. There are literally hundreds of brit habat ceremonies in circulation. Some are short and simple, others are long and elaborate. Some use a lot of Hebrew others use very little. But despite the variety, there are a few nearly universal elements:

-The introductory section begins with the greeting B'rucha haba'a (blessed is she who enters), and kiddush (blessing for wine).

-The second part is about covenant. Washing the baby, or bathing her feet and hands, is an earthy yet gentle physical act that seams to have struck a responsive chord, especially because the Torah is rich with water imagery, much of it associated with women.

-In the third section, the baby's name is announced and her namesake(s) recall.

-The end of the ceremony is signaled by one, some, or all of the following prayers: Sheheyanu, (thanks for any new blessing), the traditional blessing for a daughter, which is recited on Friday night and the priestly benediction, which concludes various Jewish rituals and services.

Brit habat concludes with the seuda mitzvah (celebratory meal). The Jewish term for this kind of party is simcha, a word that means both joy and celebration.


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