This is a simḥat bat baby-naming and welcoming ceremony, based on similar ceremonies by Dr. Devora Steinmetz and Rabbi David Silber, Rabbi Elie Kaunfer and Lisa Exler, Drs. David and Joanna Arch-Andorsky, and others. . . .
In the weeks leading up to the birth of our first child in 1997, my partner and I spent a lot of time thinking about the brit. Whether it was a boy or a girl we knew that we would have a celebration. If it was a boy we would have a brit, yet we were not happy with the ceremony as it stood. If it was a girl we needed a ceremony which was equally powerful and yet didn’t draw blood. In response to these two concerns I wrote a liturgy for what I called a chag hachnassah labrit/celebration of entering the covenant which could be easily adapted to boys and girls, and I wrote a piyyut (a liturgical poem) for a milah/a circumcision. . . .
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This is a prayer for parents to say for safe sleep for their newborn children. It is based almost entirely on the longer form of the traditional prayers before sleep. Because of gender there are two forms, for a boy and for a girl. I wrote this as part of my daughter’s naming ceremony in January 2001. I used it again in 2006 when my second daughter was born. . . .
In place of the blood of the slaughtered bulls from the covenantal ceremony in Exodus, we looked for another substance to effect the covenant ceremony. Amalya was born right after Shavuot, on which we have a tradition to eat dairy. In fact, milk itself is associated with the acceptance of Torah, as described in the following Midrash which quotes a verse from Song of Songs (4:11): “Sweetness drops from your lips, O bride; honey and milk are under your tongue and the scent of your robes is like the scent of Lebanon.” . . .
We name our daughters on their fifteenth day of life. This is based on Vayiqra 12:1-5, which describes the length of a woman’s period of impurity after childbirth. If she gives birth to a son, she is impure for seven days; if she gives birth to a daughter, she is impure for fourteen days. The passage seems to connect the baby boy’s circumcision on the eighth day to the conclusion of the mother’s seven day period of impurity. (Similarly, Vayiqra 22:27 says that a newborn animal must remain with its mother for seven days, and on the eighth day and onward it is acceptable as a sacrificial offering.) It seems, then, that for the first seven days of a little boy’s life, and the first fourteen days of a little girl’s life, the child and mother are still closely linked, and both remain separate from the larger family and community. Then, on the eighth day of her son’s life, and on the fifteenth day of her daughter’s life, the mother begins to rejoin her family and community, and the child too becomes incorporated as a member of the family and community. That is why a baby boy’s father becomes obligated to circumcise his son only on the eighth day, and why the baby boy first receives his name at his brit milah; it is then that the baby boy becomes a member of the community of Israel. On our daughter’s fifteenth day, we come together as a family and as a community to welcome this new member and to give her a name. . . .
In honor of the birth of their son born 23 Shvat 5772 ~ 15 February 2012, Rabbi Emma Kippley-Ogman and Benjamin Kamm share their Brit Shmot (Naming Covenant). The ceremony took place February 23rd, 2012 (Rosh Ḥodesh Adar ~ 30 Shvat 5772) at Congregation Kehillath Israel, Brookline, Massachusetts. . . .
For a number of reasons, some medical, some psychological, some spiritual, some communal-traditional, I support and urge male circumcision. When couples have come to me and despite my advice are adamant in refusing to do it with a boy-child, AND/OR if they ask my advice about a brit/ covenant ceremony for a girl — I urge them to follow what I’ve proposed below. . . .
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