Baby Naming

This past Shabbat was the first time I attended a baby naming in shul. It wasn’t intentional – I just happened to be there as we went to shul with my in-laws. I love this shul – Modern Orthodox, the women get to see everything, they carry the sefer torah through the women’s side at the appropriate time, etc. I am not saying MO is better just different, and it is refreshing to experience “different” from time to time, so long as one’s principles are not compromised.

One of the congregants had given birth in the past week to a baby girl. It’s actually a lovely story. Two people, with children from first marriages, had met and married, and now had a baby girl together. (Yes, that was a tear I wiped away just now.) So the mom and the baby were there in shul, as were their other six assorted children.

The father was called up to the Torah, and on his way he was handed the newborn. There was a collective sigh as the baby snuggled up to her Abba. The rabbi said a few words before the father named her, and everyone present truly felt the joy this baby’s birth had brought. Her parents gave her a name that was longer than she is – but was beautiful nevertheless. In the mix of the names was Batsheva – I thought that was lovely touch. (Bat means daughter, sheva means seven).

Once she was named the father handed the baby over to the Rabbi who gave her a bracha (a blessing) and a kiss on the forehead. Everybody sang Mazel Tov veSiman Tov and the baby was passed back to her mother. The baby was quiet through this whole thing.

In the shuls that I have attended in the past the baby girl naming has not been a big deal. The father was called up to the Torah, gave the baby her name and got some mazel tovs. This was awesome – naming a baby who was actually present. What a concept!! I feel blessed to have been a part of this, even as a bystander.

How did you name your baby girl? How were you named? Do you think there should be just as much pomp and circumstance around the birth of a girl baby, as there is with the birth of a boy baby?

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28 Comments

  1. Judit says:

    absolutely yes! i think baby girls should get the same amount of attention. thank you for sharing this story, i loved reading it.

    it always warms my heart when i see that women who came before us didn’t fight for equal rights in vain.

    i recently attended a baby naming at our congregation. both parents (one of them a rabbi, and not the one you would think :-)) went up to the torah, together with their baby girl. it was beautiful.

    i am glad you got to be there for such a wonderful event!

  2. MJ says:

    That’s basically what we insisted on doing even though no one in our shul had done so before. we were not going to treat naming our daughter like something you do as an afterthought.

    BTW: this is a random thought, but given your surname – if you are now related to Josh and Aliza, they are very cool people.

  3. Mark says:

    Some brief comments about MO shuls. It is VERY rare that an MO shul carries the Torah through the women section. I happen to like the custom and used to daven at a place in Baka (Jerusalem) that always did that. Also, the baby is rarely there when being named, and even if the baby girl is in shul, the father is rarely carrying her during his aliyah. In most MO shuls, the baby naming occurs with a misheberach for the mother and baby and a bracha from the Rabbi. In my MO shul, there is also the singing of Siman Tov U’Mazal Tov, but I haven’t seen that take place in many other places (though that may also be a recent innovation and that’s why I didn’t see it elsewhere).

    I particularly like treating the birth of a girl with a similar celebration as is done for the birth of a boy. In our case, we made kiddushim when our girls were born (and an extra big kiddush for our first, a girl), and brisim for our boys.

  4. mrsmelissasg says:

    absolutely!
    a baby is a precious gift, regardless of their gender! my girls (iyh) will be named publicly in shul and we will have a “meet the baby” open house/naming event as well. and while the brit would obviously be tied to the date, i would also want to do a public shul mishebarach/naming as well. i think it is important to welcome everyone to the community, regardless of their age or gender ;-)

  5. Hmm says:

    For a Hasmo product, I don’t think you’ve kept up with the news across the Pond. Lord Rabbi Sacks’ replacement of the old Singer Siddur contains a Zeved HaBat (welcoming a baby girl) ceremony, it’s quite beautiful. I think the Yanks’ version has it too. Zeved HaBat can be done together with the naming, or at some later point. The only question is whether this belongs in shul, and in the middle of the davening. Difficult as it is for many a parent, ideally one isn’t supposed to kiss their kids in shul during davening.

  6. Estee Lavitt says:

    We named my first daughter on a weekday at shul. I brought her with us and we invited family and close friends. Dad didn’t hold her during the Aliya (she was sleeping in her car seat) but she was present and they sang siman tov umazel tov for us. When shul was over we served a light brunch of bagels and donuts and juice.
    I thought that was beautiful and meaningful even if it was not as big as the bris we had.

  7. Linda says:

    I gave birth on Shabbat, so I was still in the hospital when my husband did the naming Monday morning, as was our daughter. But my parents and his mom were all there, and my mom called me during the naming so I could try to hear. All I got was the singing at the end, but the thought was nice :) About two and half months later, we did a joint kiddush with friends who also had a daughter not too long after us. We did it at their house, but next time we would just do it at the shul….way too much hassle shopping for and setting up a kiddush with a newborn!

  8. former Monseyite says:

    Where is there is a modern orthodox shul in Monsey!!!!

  9. When our daughters were born, my husband named them in shul and I was still in the hospital for 2/3. We sponsored or made kiddush for the shul of the time, each girl a different one.
    When my granddaughters were named, my daughter brought them to our shul (they were staying with us) and also bensched HaGomel. There was singing, too.

  10. Rabbi's Wife says:

    We had a Shisha at our house for the second girl (I was too sick to do anything with the first) on the 6th day, with food, etc and learning in her honor. Neither was out of the hospital in time to go to shul for naming. The shisha was nice, and a great way to have everyone meet the new baby!

  11. anne says:

    Don’t know the custom of Hollekreish?

    We do it 4 weeks after the birth. The girls of the community get assembled, than they all take the crib of the baby and ask “hollekreish, hollekreish, wie soll’s kindle haassen?” and then they say the name (which of course is known beforehand).

    I think it’s a yekkish/elsass thing.

  12. I feel silly commenting, because these are not my customs…and I only have a boy. I only know that traditions and customs mean so much. You women seem to have a wonderful understanding of the beauty of all children and that is what is important, at least to this silly old girl.

  13. Ariela says:

    What type of shul do you go to?

  14. Noa says:

    Hello, longtime lurker here, but I had to share how we named my daughter. She is our second child and I was intent that we would have no less a celebration for her birth as we did for our son. I had initially planned on copying an Indian/Iraqi custom called a “settee” which has a naming service on the baby’s Sixth night (even though buth hubby and I are pure Ashkenaz). However, that turned out to be the night of my sister’s wedding. Our daughter remained nameless until the following Friday morning and we held a real Zeved HaBat ceremony – portions of the text came from the galleys of Lord Sacks’ new siddur (a friend was the typesetter and gave them to me before the siddur was released) and a few things we added ourselves. We had a friend (who was previously the rabbinical intern at Rabbi Weiss’s shul in Riverdale) conduct the ceremony. We had childless friends of ours be the “kvatterim” (they gave birth 10 months later!!) and gave my new brother-in-law the honor of naming our daughter, following the traditional naming one would say at a Torah reading. We also followed the custom from the Talmud of planting a pine tree in honor of her birth (we did it into a pot at the Zeved HaBat and replanted in our yard afterwards). We each gave our daughter a bracha. And we recited a tehillim or two that were relevant.

    Afterwards, most of the people told me how they had never been to such a serious ceremony for a girl, and how they wished they had done something like that for their daughters.

    And if we ever have more daughters, we would definitely do that again. I was determined that my daughter’s naming would be a real occassion, not muttered in shul in between aliyot.

  15. Noa says:

    Oh, and in order to (perhaps) explain…I was born on Yom Kippur and named about 1/2 an hour after my birth. I always joke that my parents were so quick to give me a name they didn’t think about it…I hated the name so much that when I made aliyah I changed it legally and socially. So I hope that by waiting 10 days to name my daughter, the thought that went into her name means she’ll keep it!!

    • HSaboMilner says:

      hmm, curious to know what your given name was…but good for you for changing it to something you like! Luckily for me, my folks chose the right name. I love my Hebrew name.

  16. Z! says:

    the tradition in my neighbourhood is to have the father name the dughter in shul. If it’s on Shabbos, if there is no eruv, then mother and baby stay home. They also host a kiddush in the girl’s honour.
    I have heard that all girls need at least a kiddush made in their honour to get a shidduch. I have witnessed a few families “rectifying the situation” by giving their girls a kiddush some years after their birth.
    Some of these kiddushim are quite fab. and comparable to the grandor of a bris.

  17. Hadass Eviatar says:

    My daughter was born in mid-November, so we had her naming on the Sunday during Hanukkah. My husband and I both had aliyot, we invited our friends and family and had a lovely kiddush in her honour. ,

  18. sara maimon says:

    Yall are under a gross misimpression. Baby namings for girls are not some innovative new thing invented by liberal jewish streams. In the sephardic tradition baby namings for girls are traditional, they are known as a “zeved habat” and are held on the 30th day of life. Hey, I had one myself, 36 years ago in Lakewood.

  19. sara maimon says:

    In general, many of the stuff that is pas nisht in hareidi shuls are commonplace and the norm is sephardi shuls, like taking the torah to the women, hagomel, women saying amen loudly or commenting on the rabbis speech etc.

  20. Frank Adler says:

    The linguistic origin for the naming ceremony that has long been known by Germans (Christians as well as Jews) as “Hollekreisch” may be two-fold. Some regard it as derived from the old German fable of Frau Holle, the good fairy who safeguards the souls of infants until they have been named. Others have pointed to the French “haute-la-crèche” (raise the crib), recalling that the early Jewish settlers in the Rhineland had come there from France.

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