Baby Naming

What is a Jewish baby naming ceremony?

This is a ceremony during which the baby is given his or her Hebrew name. The chosen Hebrew name could be a name that sounds like the baby’s secular/English name, or one that begins with the same sound as the baby’s secular/English name. Often a Hebrew name is selected because the meaning of the word has significance to the family. Ashkenazic Jews (those of European ancestry) often select a name that commemorates a deceased relative of the baby in order to honor that person’s memory. Sephardic Jews (those of Spanish and Middle Eastern ancestry) often follow the custom of naming their children after living relatives.

During the ceremony, there is an opportunity for the parents of the new baby to explain their choice of name and its significance to them. Blessing are said during the ceremony acknowledging that the child has been entered into a brit, a covenant, with God. Blessings are also recited for the baby’s well-being. The traditional wish is offered – that this child may grow into a life of study of Torah, of loving relationships, and the performance of good deeds.

 

Where does a Jewish baby naming take place?

Baby namings can be held in people’s homes,or they can be held at the synagogue. A b’rit milah is usually held in the morning. A baby naming held in a synagogue can take place at a Shabbat service, either Friday evening or Saturday morning.

 

Are there any traditional greetings?

It is traditional to say mazel tov, which colloquially means “congratulations,” on the occasion of a baby naming. It is a happy time of great pride and joy. It is customary to say mazel tov to the baby’s parents, grandparents, and any other relatives present at the baby naming ceremony.