Simchat Bat: Jewish Baby Ceremonies
There is No Set Formula for the Ceremony
A Simchat Bat (Rejoicing Over the Daughter) is an optional ceremony that is not ordained by Jewish law or custom, but rather a new custom that some Jewish families have adopted as a welcome ceremony for the birth of a baby girl. The Simchat Bat does not replace the traditional naming of the baby, which takes place during the first week of the baby's life during synagogue services. There is no set formula for the ceremony and families take delight in creating their own texts and rituals.
The First Day of the Jewish Lunar Month Connects to Women
There are different customs regarding the timing of the ceremony. Some families opt to do the Simchat Bat at eight days in order to parallel the Jewish circumcision ceremony for a boy which takes place on the eighth day after birth. There is a tradition that after the birth of a girl, the mother attains a type of spiritual impurity, which leaves her 14 days of postpartum, so this is another suggested date for the ceremony. Still others prefer to have the ceremony when the baby is thirty days old, to parallel another Jewish ceremony, the Pidyon HaBen, or Redemption of the Firstborn Son. Thirty days is also the date on which a child becomes, according to Jewish law, viable and can be counted in a census. This idea likely stems from high infant mortality rates in biblical times. Another appropriate time to hold the ceremony might be the first day of the Jewish lunar month (Rosh Chodesh), which is a time that by tradition connects to women in specific ways.
The Simchat Bat may be held at home or in the synagogue. A ritual that is appropriate for inclusion in the ceremony is the Bircat HaGomel blessing, in which the mother says the blessing for having been rescued from a dangerous situation; in this case, birth. The blessing needs to be said in the presence of a minyan (a quorum of ten men). Some families like to say the prayers blessing God for something new, such as the Shehechyanu prayer, or the HaTov UMetiv prayer.
Some like to read Deuteronomy 29: 9-11 which speaks of entering the covenants of Sinai and the Plains of Moab. Another appropriate verse is from the Talmud, in Sota, 11b "In the merit of the righteous women who lived in that generation, our forefathers were redeemed from Egypt."