What could be as exciting as the birth of a child? Every baby is a miracle, and as Jews, we celebrate each new arrival as both a personal blessing and as a statement of our optimism in the destiny of the Jewish people and of our hope for all humanity. Each human soul is likened to a new world of possibility. As we gaze into the eyes of a newborn, we rejoice in that potential and blessing.
Since the days of Abraham, Jewish parents have welcomed their sons into the Jewish people by means of the brit mila ceremony—ritual circumcision that occurs on the eighth day. Although there are countless medical benefits that encourage us to circumcise our sons, our commitment to this essential Jewish practice stems from the covenant God sealed with Abraham so many years ago. It is "an everlasting pact" (Genesis 17:9-13) by which we declare that we are part of the chain of generations who strive to live with God's presence in our lives.
The actual procedure is performed by a mohel, an individual specially trained in the medical and liturgical requirements of Jewish circumcision. The ceremony, which is often held in the home or the synagogue, is normally co-officiated with one or more of Beth El's clergy. During this ceremony, the boy is also given his Hebrew name by which he is known among the Jewish people. It is also the name used when he is called to the Torah on his bar mitzvah, when he is married, and when in the course of years he is eventually called back to his Maker. It is, in other words, the name of his soul.
For a list of mohelim, please contact either Rabbi Sirner or Rabbi Kosak. For contact information, click here.
As Conservative Jews who believe that all people are created with inherent worth and dignity, we cherish the birth of a daughter just as much as a son, and choose to welcome the arrival of a girl with any of a number of rituals. Some parents choose to have an aliyah to the Torah during which their daughter's Hebrew name will be recited. Others prefer a home-based ritual that may include use of a tallit, a candle, or even immersion in a mikveh. Feel free to contact one of our rabbis to determine what makes the most sense for your family.
In all cases, the girl receives her Hebrew name that will be used when she is called to the Torah on her bat mitzvah, when she is married, and when in the course of years she is eventually called back to his Maker. It is, in other words, the name of her soul.