The birth of a child is a moment of great joy and celebration both for your family and our community.
For generations, we have marked this time with rituals and blessings, welcoming new life into the world and adding meaning and spirituality to this moment. There are many ways to celebrate from ancient ceremonies to new and creative paths of welcome. We hope to share in this sacred time with you and your family.Download Birth Booklet Learn More
In Judaism, and in life, names are important and significant, and giving a child their name is one of the first gifts you give them.
A Hebrew name is given by parents to their child and is used during Jewish rituals. It is expressed as the name of the child, son or daughter of their parents. For example, Yitzhak ben Avraham ve Sarah (Isaac, son of Abraham and Sarah)
There are many different traditions around choosing a Hebrew name:
Name after a relative in their honour
Sometimes parents will choose a name to honour or remember a grandparent, relative or significant person in the parent’s life. In Sephardi tradition it is considered a great honour to have a child named after you when you are alive. By contrast, Ashkenazi tradition is to only name after people who are no longer living.
Sometimes you may wish to honour your relative or special person, but would prefer a different name, or perhaps they did not have a Hebrew name. Then, you may wish to select a name beginning with the same letter as the relative you wish to honour and so celebrate them without using their exact name.
Name after a figure in the Torah or tradition you admire
Some people choose to name their child after a Biblical or historical Jewish figure who has traits which they admire and wish their child to emulate.
Name with a meaning you like
There are many Hebrew names with beautiful meanings and a Hebrew name could be chosen simply because parents like its translation.
Name connected to their English name
Sometimes parents will choose a name which has a link to their child’s English name: it may sound similar, have the same meaning or be the Hebrew equivalent of that name
Name because you like it
A name can also be chosen just because parents like it!
There are a range of customs connected to the announcement of a child’s name. Some choose not to share the name until after the circumcision, if it is a boy, or at the naming ceremony, if it is a girl. Others will share the English name and keep the Hebrew name until the ceremony. Yet others will announce the baby’s name from the moment of their birth.
Before the baby is born
We have a number of courses and programmes in which you may wish to be involved as you prepare for the arrival of your new baby.
We have a special group for expecting couples, regardless of whether this is your first, second or more child. Join Rabbi Kaiserblueth for a series of informal sessions designed as preparation for birth in a Jewish context. This is also a wonderful opportunity to meet others about to welcome a new bundle of joy. Sessions are held every month in a private home.
This is a program for those expecting a baby in their lives, whether through birth or adoption, and whether the 1st or 5th!
The concept is to foster/build relationships with people going through the same life stage that will carry forward after the class has concluded.
The Program consists of 4 sessions
Jewish Traditions & Rituals
Brit Milah, Simchat Bat, naming, and rituals to do at home with the child.
The Birth Experience
A doula or midwife is invited to speak about the process leading up to and the birth itself and to foster a dialogue.
Financial advisors are invited to foster a conversation regarding how you and your family will speak about, plan for, and implement the financial considerations of your new arrival.
Instructors will lead the participants through the basics of infant first aid and CPR.
A beautiful way to prepare for the deeply spiritual moment of bringing new life into the world is to immerse in the waters of the mikvah or the ocean, a natural mikvah. Contact Rabbi Ninio to learn more and craft your own unique ritual.
Circumcision: Brit Milah
When a boy is born in Judaism we welcome him and bring him into the covenant with the ritual of circumcision. This moment and ceremony connects him to the generations who have come before and is one of the first steps linking him to the community and his people. At the same time as the circumcision, there is a naming blessing where the child is given his Hebrew name.
Circumcision is a commandment which derives from the Torah and the story of Abraham when he makes a covenant with God. At that moment is he commanded to circumcise himself, his household and the generations of boys to follow on the eighth day after birth. We conduct the circumcision ceremony and blessings which acknowledge and celebrate the covenantal relationship.
Circumcision ceremonies occur on or after the 8th day following the birth of a boy, depending on the availability of the doctor and the health of the baby. It is common for the brit milah to be delayed because a baby is small, premature, jaundiced or other reasons recommended by the doctor. This delay is usually a few days or a week.
A doctor or surgeon will conduct the circumcision procedure. There are a number of paediatric surgeons in the community as well as doctors skilled in performing circumcisions. We have a list of surgeons, doctors and their contact information if you would like recommendations. Some of the doctors can also recite the appropriate blessings and rituals for brit milah and the congregation’s rabbis are also very happy to be present and recite the blessings. When a doctor or surgeon is not an authorised mohel one of our rabbis will be there to recite the blessings and conduct the ceremonial aspects of the brit milah.
The circumcision can take place in a number of different locations: in your home, the doctor’s surgery or at the synagogue.
It is up to you who and how many people attend the circumcision ceremony. The doctor’s surgeries often have limited space, so you may need to take that into account when inviting guests and choosing your location.
The brit milah ceremony has two parts: the circumcision and the naming. If you choose to do a more private circumcision, we can do a ceremony confirming the baby’s name and welcoming him into the community either in the synagogue or in your home. Click here to find out more about naming ceremonies (add the link to the part of the site dealing with naming ceremonies)
The first step is to choose a doctor or surgeon and location for the circumcision.
Then contact the doctor and check their availability
Finally, call the synagogue and book the rabbi to come and be with you for the ceremony.
If you need assistance with any of these decisions and choices, please contact us and we would be delighted to guide you and offer all the help you may need. (contact synagogue information or links or whatever you think we should have here)
The birth of a girl has been celebrated in many different ways throughout history. Traditionally, a girl’s father attended the synagogue for a special blessing the shabbat after she was born. There are also records of special ceremonies which took place amongst women for the birth of a girl. Today there are many options to celebrate the birth of your daughter and welcoming her into her community. The rituals range from blessings in the synagogue with family and friends to naming ceremonies created especially for your daughter, in conjunction with our rabbis or designed by you.
You can choose to name your child in the synagogue as part of our shabbat services either Friday night or Saturday morning. During the service we invite you and your family forward and we conduct a small ceremony with beautiful readings and blessings for your baby, including announcing their name to the community. On Saturday morning you can combine the naming with an Aliyah (a call up) to the Torah. Non Jewish relatives and friends are welcome to participate in the ceremony.
We can conduct a naming ceremony and welcome blessing for your baby in your home. You can invite friends and family to gather and we will recite blessings and readings. Family members and friends can be involved and together we can craft a ceremony which is unique and meaningful. When the ceremony is in your home, we have more time and can create something personal to you and your family.
The naming ceremony can take place anytime after the baby is born. Some people choose to celebrate close to the 8th day to mirror the brit milah (circumcision) timing, others prefer to wait for a few weeks after the baby is born and everyone is more settled.
Simply click here contact synagogue information or links or whatever you think we should have here)and contact the synagogue, let us know the dates, location and type of service you would prefer and we will make a booking with one of our rabbis. Or if you have questions we would love to help and guide in any way we can.
Pidyon Haben, or redeeming of the first born son, is an ancient ritual derived from the Torah, wherein every first-born male is dedicated to the service of the Temple. Pidyon Haben is the ceremony where parents redeem their sons from the Temple service. It only applies where a mother’s first born is male and not a Cohen and even then, there are certain circumstances where even a first-born male does not require this ritual to be performed.
One of our rabbis can guide you to determine if this ceremony is for you. The ritual takes place 30 days after your son is born and involves a short series of prayers and blessings. Today, this tradition is not frequently performed because of the restrictive criteria to be met in order to require pidyon haben. We would be happy to answer any questions you may have about this ritual.
Patrilineal Descent: what if my child’s mother is not Jewish?
Keeping with the pluralistic, egalitarian foundation of our community, we welcome all children who have at least one Jewish parent, no matter the gender of the Jewish parent. Provided the baby’s parents have committed to raise their child exclusively as a Jew, we would be delighted to facilitate your child’s entry into the community and covenant through the celebration of a naming ceremony and circumcision if your baby is a boy. If your child’s only Jewish parent is their father, at some point before bar/bat mitzvah, they will need to be immersed in the mikvah to formalise their Jewish status. We are happy to discuss this further and answer any questions about the Jewish status of your child.
Genetic Carrier Screening
If you are planning on having children, genetic carrier screening is an important part of your pre-pregnancy care.
Certain serious genetic conditions such as Tay-Sachs disease are more common in people of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry, and it is important to know whether you are a high-risk couple.
High-risk couples may decide to use IVF or prenatal testing to avoid having an affected child.
Regardless of your ancestry or family history, genetic carrier screening is available through Wolper Jewish Hospital, your family doctor, or your local genetic counselling service.