Jewish Ceremonies For Baby Girls

From Birth, A Girl Was Expected To Be Less 'Out There'

In the past, Jewish baby girls were less flamboyant in terms of the amount of ceremony their births required. From birth, a girl was expected to be less 'out there'; not unimportant, but rather, modest. The father of the new baby girl would be called up to read from the Torah scroll and there would be some cakes and wine for congregants after the service. That's all folks.

There's The Meal, There's Speeches, And A Great Deal Of Socializing.

The experience of naming a baby boy is quite different because Jewish boys are, by tradition, meant to be more active in the community in a much more visual fashion. Birth is no exception, since, according to tradition, Jewish baby boys are given a ritual circumcision when they are eight days old. A ritual circumcision, or Brit Milah (pronounced by Eastern European Jews as 'Bris' Milah or just 'Bris'), is followed by a Seudat Mitzvah, or, the Torah prescribed festive meal that by nature involves the ceremonial breaking of bread. A Bris tends to last at least a few hours, whether or not the meal is fancy. There's the meal, there's speeches, and as in any Jewish meal, a great deal of socializing.

There has been a trend, of late, for some Jewish families to hold a special ceremony upon the birth of a baby girl known as a Zeved HaBat (Gift of a Daughter), or sometimes, a Simchat Bat (Rejoicings over the Daughter). This ceremony differs from a Bris in that the circumcision of baby boys is a basic Jewish law, whereas it is nowhere ordained that parents must perform the Simchat Bat ceremony for their daughters.  Still, many parents feel that they would like to have a spiritual vehicle by which they can express their gratitude for the gift of a baby girl. The strictest observant Jews would tend not to observe such a ceremony, but more and more Jews from other streams, including the Modern Orthodox community, are favoring the Simchat Bat.

There are some differences between the Zeved Habat and the Simchat Bat. The former has its origins in Spanish and Italian Jewish custom, the latter is a modern innovation adopted in the main by Jews of Eastern European extraction. Being that the Simchat Bat is so new, there is no set form for the ceremony, though many would like to see a standard ceremony implemented.  To this purpose, many scholars are researching the ancient texts with an eye toward incorporating appropriate blessings and verses into the ceremony.

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