Many Jewish babies are given a Hebrew or Jewish name. This name will be used at life-cycle events throughout their life. When they begin their Jewish learning, each time they are called to the Torah beginning at Bar or Bat Mitzvah, on their ketubah if they get married, in prayer when an individual is ill, and at the end of our lives, our Hebrew names are used to connect us in ritual, through generations.
This is often a brief ceremony during which a baby is given their 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. A Hebrew name might be selected because the meaning of the word has significance to the family. Ashkenazic Jews (those of European ancestry) more commonly 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.
If a baby boy is being circumcised (b’rit milah), typically done on the eighth day after birth, the boy is given his Hebrew name at the same time. If not, baby namings for both boys and girls can occur at any time, although they are usually done in the first few weeks of the baby’s life.
Here at NVHC, there is an opportunity during the ceremony for the parents of the new baby to explain their choice of name and its significance to them. Blessings are said during the ceremony acknowledging that the child has been entered into a brit, a covenant, with God and community, as well as for the baby’s well-being. As a member in our community and after meeting with one of our clergy (Rabbi Holzman, Cantor Caro, or Rabbi Wainer) we can schedule a ceremony to take place at a Shabbat service, either Friday evening or Saturday morning, or during our Tot Shabbat experience as we welcome the new child into our community.