The object of a baby-naming ceremony is to officially present the child with a Hebrew name, usually honoring a loved one who has passed on. In this touching ceremony, a new Hebrew name is affectionately given to the baby in its parent’s arms, along with ecumenical ceremonial input from grandparents. Parents may offer some sentimental, loving comments and memories about the person for whom their baby is named. Choosing a name can sometimes be a dilemma, and I have many ways to make that task easier. The name might be symbolic, like “Shira”, meaning “song” in Hebrew, for a grandmother who had a beautiful voice. Or, parents might choose a name sounding like its English counterpart: “Nessy” or “Nessa” in English would become “Nes”, a name translated as “miracle”. Some admirable quality of the deceased might be exemplified in the choice of a name; for a person who had an intense joie de vivre, the namesake might be called “Chaya”, or “Life”. Finally, a Hebrew name might be chosen as a direct translation of an English one; “Jacob” would then become “Yaakov”.
Fewer Jewish families are opting for a traditional Bris for their newborn sons. There are many reasons for this. For one, medical insurance rarely covers the services of a Mohel (ritual circumciser) as he is not a physician. From the other end, few Mohels (Mohalim) are themselves insured for their services as insurance companies will generally not cover someone without medical training. Many families also feel that the experience of watching their sons being circumcised is traumatic rather than joyous. Tradition also dictates that a Bris must take place on the 8th day. As families and friends will often travel from far, having such an important event on a weekday is inconvenient. For these reasons, more couples are opting to have their sons circumcised in the hospital and then, as with daughters, scheduling a baby naming ceremony at a time in which the whole family can come together and celebrate without concern. I have been participating in more naming ceremonies for boys over the past several years and am delighted to do so.
Every ceremony is personalized, includes participation of parents, grandparents, relatives and all guests. An attractive ‘Naming Certificate’ is included as part of the ceremony