B'rit Bat: Ceremony for Welcoming a Baby Girl
Originally, Judaism had no special home celebration to welcome female infants into the covenant. Traditionally, fathers were given an aliyah (the honor of reciting the blessing before and after a section of the weekly Torah portion was read) at the synagogue the first Shabbat after a girl was born. The child received her Hebrew name at the same time. After services, both mother and father were honored at a congregational kiddush. In Reform synagogues, a baby-naming ceremony involving both parents was celebrated most commonly 30 days after the birth. Still, the absence of a special home ritual was disturbing, especially to liberal Jews. A few congregations began to create their own ceremonies for girls, and the popularity of the idea quickly made it a widespread practice among many Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist families.
Ceremonies that celebrate the birth of a daughter and her entry into the covenant of the Jewish people are known by a variety of names, including b'rit bat and b'rit chayim. They are a wonderful opportunity to celebrate our daughters and are an important part of liberal Judaism's egalitarian approach to Jewish tradition.
Welcoming ceremonies for daughters may be celebrated in the synagogue or at home. The home, with the sense of warmth it contributes to this joyous occasion, is the most suitable place for b'rit bat.
The ceremony may be held on the eighth day or at a later time, and may include creative readings and other elements that reflect the hopes and dreams of the parents for their daughter. They ceremony may include a rabbi or cantor as the leader, or the family may opt to design and lead a service themselves.
A b'rit bat might include these components and/or others that are meaningful to the parents or other family members:
Prayers of Welcome and Thanksgiving
A blessing of welcome:
Blessed be the child whom we now welcome.
A blessing recited by the mother:
Baruch ata Adonai, Ehloheinu mehlech ha'olam, asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu l'hachnisah bi'v'rit hachayim.
We praise you, Eternal God, Sovereign of the universe: You hallow us with Your Mitzvot, and command us to bring our daughters into the Covenant of Life.
A blessing recited by the father:
Baruch ata Adonai, Ehloheinu mehlech ha'olam, asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu al kidush hachayim.
We praise you, Eternal God, Sovereign of the universe: You hallow us with Your Mitzvot, and command us to sanctify our life.
The Shehecheyanu recited together by both parents:
Baruch ata Adonai, Ehloheinu mehlech ha'olam, shehechehyanu, v'ki y'manu, v'higianu laz'man ha-zeh.
We praise You, Eternal God, Sovereign of the universe, for giving us life, for sustaining us, and for enabling us to reach this season.
The baby's parents also may recite these words:
May we lead our daughter in the way of righteousness. Teach us to guide and instruct her, that she may grow up to be loyal to Judaism and a worthy member of the Jewish community.
Now in the presence of loved ones, we give to you the name ___________________. Let it become a name honored and respected for wisdom and good deeds. __________________, we commit ourselves to the unfolding of your promise, may you walk the path of goodness, beauty, and truth. Do justly and love mercy, and be humble before the mystery of life and the grandeur of the universe into which you have been born.
May God's blessing rest on you now and always.
Y'varehch'cha Adonai v'yishm'rehcha.
May God bless you and keep you.
Yaeir Adonai pana eilehcha vichunehka.
May Good look kindly upon you, and be gracious to you.
Yisa Adonai panav eilehcha v'yaseim l'cha shalom.
May God reach out to you in tenderness, and give you peace.
Baruch ata Adonai, Ehloheinu mehlech ha'olam, borei p'ri hagafen.
We praise You, Eternal God, Sovereign of the universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine.
A few drops of wine or grape juice may be given to the child after which the cup might be share by parents and loved ones. A festive meal may follow the b'rit bat.