This is a ritual we developed, influenced by other similar rituals, to welcome a daughter into the family, community, and covenant. The ritual involves marking the baby’s chest with a letter representing God’s name in a semi-permanent dye, and anointing her ears with oil and lips with wine. What distinguishes this rituals from others most significantly, to my mind, is the visible physical mark that will last for about two weeks, paralleling the physical mark of circumcision in boys. In our culture, where non-ritual circumcision is common, the sign of the covenant marked in boys flesh is not distinguishable later in life as a Jewish identity marker. What remains, as in this ritual, is the memory of the experience of having the covenant, and God’s name marked on one’s body.
BritLit. Covenant. Judaism is defined by the covenant - the contract between the Jewish people and God. God promises to make us abundant and to give us the land of Israel; we promise to obey God's commandments. This covenant begins with Abraham and is reiterated throughout the Torah. A brit milah, literally a covenant of circumcision, is often simply called a brit or bris. Otiyot (Covenant of Letters / Signs) ברית אותיות
B’shem HashemLit. The Name, referring to the ineffable name of God; used as a substitute for any of the more sacred names of God when not speaking in prayer. Particularly used in conversation. Elohei Yisrael
V’al roshi Shechinat El
ְּבְּשֵׁם ה’ אֱ-לֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל
וְעַל רֹאשִׁי שְׁכִינַת אֵ-ל
In the name of God,
By my right, is Michael
before me, Uriel
and above my head, Shechinat El
Parents: In Vayikra Rabbah, the midrashA rabbinic method of interpreting text, often through the telling of stories. comments that the rule for animals is similar to the rule for people. Just as an animal is allowed a full seven days with its mother before becoming acceptable as a sacrifice on the eighth day, a human child is entered into the covenant only on the eighth day and not before. We have been blessed with a child and the honor of participating with God in the act of creation. We have had the last seven days to think of our daughter as our own, to begin to bond with her, and to revel in our great accomplishment. Today, on the eighth day, it is time to acknowledge God’s role in our simchah and in our daughter’s life. As she comes into relationship with God and the community, this will be one of many steps she will take toward becoming her own person separate from us. We take comfort in knowing that there are both heavenly and earthly angels protecting her as she travels through such transitional moments.
(kvater/in brings in the baby as we sing the Angel Song again)
Assembled Guests: בְּרוּכָה הַבָּאָה Brukhah Haba’ah!
An Honored Guest: This is your chair, ElijahElijah is a biblical prophet who is said never to have died. There are therefore many legends associated with Elijah. In the Talmud, unresolved arguments will be resolved when Elijah comes. He will herald the coming of the messiah. In Jewish ritual, Elijah is a liminal figure, arriving at moments of danger and transition – at a brit milah, a chair is put out for him, a cup is poured for Elijah at the Passover seder, and he is invoked at havdalah. His Hebrew name is Eliyahu., who returns to children the heart of a parent, and to parents the heart of a child. This is your chair, Elijah. Send your guardian powers to protect this child as s/he strives throughout life to keep the covenant into which we are welcoming him/her today. This is your chair, Elijah. Help all of us to spread the message that the time is coming for the victory over oppression, and that the time is ripe for the arrival of a newborn world of joy.
EliyahuElijah is a biblical prophet who is said never to have died. There are therefore many legends associated with Elijah. In the Talmud, unresolved arguments will be resolved when Elijah comes. He will herald the coming of the messiah. In Jewish ritual, Elijah is a liminal figure, arriving at moments of danger and transition – at a brit milah, a chair is put out for him, a cup is poured for Elijah at the Passover seder, and he is invoked at havdalah. His Hebrew name is Eliyahu. hanavi
Im mashi’akh ben David
עִם מָשִׁיחַ בֶּן דָוִד
Elijah the prophet
Elijah the Tishbite
Elijah the Gileadite
Soon in our days
May he come to us
With Messiah of Davidic line
(kvater/in places Baby on כסא אליהו Elijah’s chair)
Parent / MC / Honored Guest:
זֶה הַכִּסֵּא שֶׁל אֵלִיָּֽהוּ הַנָּבִיא זָכוּר לַטּוֹב
לִישׁוּעָתְךָ קִוִּֽיתִי ה’. שִׂבַּֽרְתִּי לִישׁוּעָתְךָ ה’, וּמִצְוֹתֶֽיךָ עָשִֽׂיתִי. אֵלִיָּֽהוּ מַלְאַךְ הַבְּרִית, הִנֵּה שֶׁלְּךָ לְפָנֶֽיךָ, עֲמֹד עַל יְמִינִי וְסָמְכֵֽנִי. שִׂבַּֽרְתִּי לִישׁוּעָתְךָ ה’. שָׂשׂ אָנֹכִי עַל אִמְרָתֶֽךָ, כְּמוֹצֵא שָׁלָל רָב. שָׁלוֹם רָב לְאֹהֲבֵי תוֹרָתֶֽךָ, וְאֵין לָֽמוֹ מִכְשׁוֹל. אַשְׁרֵי תִּבְחַר וּתְקָרֵב יִשְׁכֹּן חֲצֵרֶֽיךָ,
נִשְׂבְּעָה בְּטוּב בֵּיתֶֽךָ קְדֹשׁ הֵיכָלֶֽךָ.
Nis’b’ah b’tuv beitekha kedosh heikhalekha
May we be sated by the goodness of Your house, Your holy sanctuary
(kvater/in brings baby to SandekThe person given the honor of holding the child through the brit milah (ritual circumcision). This is the highest honor at a brit and is usually given to a grandfather or uncle or someone very close to the family.)
Parents: If the baby we had just welcomed into the room were a boy, you would all know what to expect at this moment. While of course we can’t physically remove a foreskin from a girl, the Bible refers to three metaphorical foreskins which seem to represent a spiritual blockage to the proper functioning of the organs to which they are attached.
In Exodus 6:30 MosesThe quintessential Jewish leader who spoke face to face with God, unlike any other prophet, and who freed the people from Egypt, led them through the desert for forty years, and received the Torah on Mt. Sinai. His Hebrew name is Moshe. protests his appointment as God’s messenger saying, “Behold I am of uncircumcised lips, and how will Pharoah listen to me?” While some commentators hold that Moses was referring to a physical speech impediment, it seems that he has little trouble with speaking. In fact he speaks seemingly endlessly at times. What he is describing seems to be a problem of the spiritual fortitude to speak on God’s behalf, or the confidence in his ability to speak so that people will listen.
Jeremiah, generations later, describes the problem of listening too as one with a metaphorical foreskin: “To whom shall I speak, give warning that they may hear. Behold their ears are foreskinned and they can not listen (6:12).” In a later chapter (9:25) Jeremiah emphasizes that the metaphorical foreskins are as troubling to the covenantal relationship as the physical: “All these nations are foreskinned, but the house of Israel have foreskinned hearts.”
Similarly, in Deuteronomy chapter 30, in the midst of a passage renewing the covenant with all of the Jewish people, God promises: “And Adonay your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your offspring, to love Adonay your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.”
While we rely on God to remove the spiritual barriers of these metaphoric foreskins, just as we rely on God to imbue the physical circumcision of a boy with meaning, we can create a physical marking of our spiritual intentions, and with God’s help initate our daughter into the covenant. In the SephardicJews of Spanish descent; sometimes used to describe Jews of North-African and Middle-Eastern descent. The term also describes the customs and practices of these Jews, often in comparison to those of Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jews. tradition, women have used henna to mark lifecycle events with a semipermanent physical reminder. The mark of henna on a bride’s hands indicates the change in status she is undergoing and protects her in this liminal state. Because there are some concerns about the safety of henna for infants, we have chosen to mark our daughter with Jagua, a temporary dye made from an Amazonian fruit which is safe for people of all ages.
The male circumcision site is sometimes understood as God’s name signed in the flesh, taking the form of a “י” on the crown of the reproductive organ. Our daughter, too will have God’s name signed in her flesh, in the form a “ש” marked over her heart in jagua and a “ד” and “י”marked on her ears with oil, reminiscent of the anointing oil of the holy Temple. Marking her with the name Shadai invokes the protective and nurturing aspects of God that we hope will be with her throughout her life. Just as the mark of circumcision has bolstered Jewish men’s sense of the holiness of their physical bodies, we hope that our daughter will internalize the mark of Shadai which we place on our her chest today, helping her to know always that there is holiness to be found within her physical being.
The ritual will be concluded by marking her lips with wine, opening them as well to the world of spiritual opportunity.
“We mark her heart in hope that her heart will be open to the world and the God behind it.”
(Mark heart with jagua ש – then cover with medical tape to protect from smudging)
“We mark her ears in hope that she will hear the still small voice of God.”
(Mark ears with oil ד – י)
“We mark her lips in hope that they will give voice to God’s presence.”
(Mark lips with wine)
Parents (between marking and taping):
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’ אֱ-לֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָֽׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו, וְצִוָּֽנוּ לְהַכְנִיסָהּ בִּבְרִיתָם שֶׁל אַבְרָהָם אָבִינוּ וְשָׂרָה אִמֵנוּ
אָמֵן. כְּשֵׁם שֶׁנִּכְנְסָה לַבְּרִית, כֵּן תִּכָּנֵס לְתוֹרָה וּלְחֻפָּה וּלְמַעֲשִׂים טוֹבִים.
Amen. Kesheym shenikhnesah labrit, kein tikaneis l’TorahThe Five Books of Moses, and the foundation of all of Jewish life and lore. The Torah is considered the heart and soul of the Jewish people, and study of the Torah is a high mitzvah. The Torah itself a scroll that is hand lettered on parchment, elaborately dressed and decorated, and stored in a decorative ark. It is chanted aloud on Mondays, Thursdays, and Shabbat, according to a yearly cycle. Sometimes "Torah" is used as a colloquial term for Jewish learning and narrative in general. u’l’huppahMarriage canopy symbolizing the couple's new home. u’l’ma’asim tovim!
As she has entered into the covenant, so may she engage in Torah, the wedding canopy, and good deeds.
(Anonther honored guest takes baby from sandek)
MC / Honored Guest:
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’ אֱ-לֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּֽפֶן.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’ אֱ-לֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדַּשׁ יְדִיד מִבֶּֽטֶן, וְחֹק בִּשְׁאֵרוֹ שָׂם, וְצֶאֱצָאָיו חָתַם בְּאוֹת בְּרִית קֹֽדֶשׁ. עַל כֵּן בִּשְׂכַר זֹאת, אֵל חַי, חֶלְקֵֽנוּ, צוּרֵֽנוּ, צַוֵּה לְהַצִּיל יְדִידוּת שְׁאֵרֵֽנוּ מִשַּֽׁחַת, לְמַֽעַן בְּרִיתוֹ אֲשֶׁר שָׂם בִּבְשָׂרֵֽנוּ. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’, כּוֹרֵת הַבְּרִית.
Praised are You, Adonay our God, Ruler of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.
Praised are You, Adonay our God, Ruler of the universe, who sanctified our beloved patriarch from the womb, and imprinted God’s law in his flesh, and sealed his descendants with the sign of the holy covenant. Therefore, in recognition of this, Living God, our Portion, our Rock, ordain that this beloved child’s flesh and spirit be protected from all harm, for the sake of the covenant which God placed in our flesh. Praised are You, Adonay who establishes the covenant
MC / Honored Guest:
אֱ-לֹהֵֽינוּ וֵא-לֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵֽינוּ, קַיֵּם אֶת הַיַּלְדָה הַזֹּאת לְאָבִיהָ וּלְאִמָּהּ, וְיִקָּרֵא שְׁמָהּ בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל (פלונית בת פלוני ופלונית). יִשְׂמַח הָאָב בְּיוֹצֵא חֲלָצָיו וְתָגֵל אִמָּהּ בִּפְרִי בִטְנָהּ, כַּכָּתוּב: יִשְׂמַח אָבִֽיךָ וְאִמֶּֽךָ, וְתָגֵל יוֹלַדְתֶּֽךָ. וְנֶאֱמַר: “בְּרִית עוֹלָֽם בֵּינִי וּבֵין֙ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל א֥וֹת הִוא לְעֹלָם” וְנֶאֱמַר: “זֹאת אוֹת־הַבְּרִית אֲשֶׁר־אֲנ֣י נֹתֵן בֵּינִי֙ וּבֵינֵיכֶם” וְנֶאֱמַר: “וְהָיָה֙ לְא֣וֹת בְּרִית בֵּינִי וּבֵֽינֵיכֶֽם” הוֹדוּ לַה’ כִּי טוֹב, כִּי לְעוֹלָם חַסְדּוֹ.
הוֹדוּ לַה’ כִּי טוֹב, כִּי לְעוֹלָם חַסְדּוֹ. Hodu Ladonay ki tov, ki l’olam hasdo
MC / Honored Guest:
הוֹדוּ לַה’ כִּי טוֹב, כִּי לְעוֹלָם חַסְדּוֹ.
הוֹדוּ לַה’ כִּי טוֹב, כִּי לְעוֹלָם חַסְדּוֹ. Hodu Ladonay ki tov, ki l’olam hasdo
MC / Honored Guest:
(פלוני בת פלוני ופלונית) זוֹ הַקְּטָנָה גְּדוֹלָה תִּהְיֶה, כְּשֵׁם שֶׁנִּכְנְסָה לַבְּרִית, כֵּן תִּכָּנֵס לְתוֹרָה וּלְחֻפָּה וּלְמַעֲשִׂים טוֹבִים.
(MC / Honored Guests, Parents and Baby drink wine)
Zo hak’tanah g’dolah tihyeh – זוֹ הַקְּטָנָה גְּדוֹלָה תִּהְיֶה – May this little one become great
MC / Honored Guest: Our God and God of our ancestors, sustain this child with the help of her parents, and let her be known among the people of Israel as (plonit daughter of ploni and plonit, or plonit plonit ploni-ploni). May the father rejoice in the product of his loins and the mother delight in the fruit of her womb as it is written, “May your father an mother rejoice and she who gave birth to you exult”(proverbs 23:25). And it is written: “An eternal covenant between Me and the people of Israel, an everlasting symbol.” (Exodus, 31: 16-17) And it is written: “This is the mark of the covenant that I place between Me and you.” (Genesis 9:12) And it is written: “And it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you.” (Genesis 17:11) Praise Adonay, for God is good, God’s love is everlasting. Praise Adonai, for God is good, God’s love is everlasting. (Psalms 118) May Plonit daughter of Ploni and Plonit, this little one, become great. As she has entered into the covenant, so may she engage in Torah, the wedding canopy, and good deeds.
Parent(s): Give naming speech
MC / Honored Guest:
מִי שֶׁבֵּרַך אִמּוֹתֵינוּ שָׂרָה רִבְקָה רָחֵל וְלֵאָה וּמִרְיָם הַנְּבִיאָה וַאֲבִיגַיִל וְאֶסְתֵּר הַמַלְכָּה בַּת אֲבִיחַיִל הוּא יְבָרֵךְ אֶת הַנַעֲרָה הַנְעִימָה הַזֹאת בְּמַזָּל טוֹב וּבִשְׁעַת בְּרָכָה. וִיגַדְּלָהּ בִּבְרִיאוּת שָׁלוֹם וּמְנוּחָה לְתוֹרָה וּלְחֻפָּה וּלְמַעֲשִׂים טוֹבִים. וִיזַכֶּה אֶת אָבִיהָ וְאֶת אִמָּהּ לִרְאוֹת בְּשִׂמְחָתָהּ בְּבָנִים וּבָנוֹת עֹשֶׁר וְכָבוֹד דְּשֵׁנִים וְרַעֲנַנִּים יְנוּבוּן בְּשֵׂיבָה וְכֵן יְהִי רָצוֹן וְנֹאמַר אָמֵן.
May God who blessed our mothers SarahThe first matriarch, wife of Abraham, and mother of Isaac, whom she birthed at the age of 90. Sarah, in Rabbinic tradition, is considered holy, beautiful, and hospitable. Many prayers, particularly the Amidah (the central silent prayer), refer to God as Magen Avraham – protector of Abraham. Many Jews now add: pokehd or ezrat Sarah – guardian or helper of Sarah., Rivkah, RachelLavan's younger daughter and Jacob's beloved wife second wife (after he is initially tricked into marrying her older sister, Leah). Rachel grieves throughout her life that she is barren while Leah is so fertile. Ultimately, Rachel gives birth to Joseph and dies in childbirth with Benjamin. Rachel is remembered as compassionate (she is said to still weep for her children), and infertile women often invoke Rachel as a kind of intercessor and visit her tomb on the road to Bethlehem., and LeahThe third of the Jewish matriarchs, Lead is the eldest of Lavan's daughters and one of the wives of Jacob. She is the daughter whom Lavan tricks Jacob into marrying instead of his younger daughter Rachel, whom Jacob has requested to marry. Leah is mother to six of the the twelve tribes and to one daughter, Dinah., MiriamMiriam is the sister of Moses and Aaron. As Moses' and Aaron's sister she, according to midrash, prophesies Moses' role and helps secure it by watching over the young baby, seeing to it that Pharaoh's daughter takes him and that the baby is returned to his mother for nursing. During the Israelites' trek through the desert, a magical well given on her behalf travels with the Israelites, providing water, healing, and sustenance. the prophet, AvigailOne of David's wives and a prophetess, known for her cleverness and beauty. She has the longest continous monologue of any woman in Hebrew scripture. Her Hebrew name is Avigail., and Queen EstherHeroine of the Purim story and Megillat (the scroll of) Esther. She is married to the king by her cousin Mordecai and ultimately saves her people from execution., bless this lovely girl at this favorable and blessed hour. May she grow in health, peace, and tranquility and be raised to a life of Torah, the wedding canopy, and good deeds. May her parents merit to see her joyful, blessed with children, prosperity, and honor, bringing fulfillment and refreshment to their old age. May this be God’s will. Amen.
רִבּוֹנוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם, יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְפָנֶיךָ, שֶׁתְּהֵא חֲשׁוּבָה וּמְרֻצָה וּמְקֻבֶּלֶת לְפָנֶיךָ, כְּאִלוּ הִקְרַבְנוּהָ לִפְנֵי כִסֵא כְבוֹדֶךָ. וְאַתָּה, בְּרַחֲמֶיךָ הָרַבִּים, שְׁלַח עַל יְדֵי מַלְאָכֶיךַ הַקְדוֹשִׁים נְשָׁמָה קְדוֹשָׁה וּטְהוֹרָה לְבִתֵּינוּ הַנִחְתְּמָה עַתָּה בְּשִׁמְךָ הַגָדוֹל וְהַקָדוֹשׁ, וְשֶׁיִהְיֶה לִבָּהּ פָּתוּחַ כְּפִתְחוֹ שֶׁל אוּלָם, בְּתוֹרָתְךָ הַקְדוֹשָׁה, לִלְמֹד וּלְלַמֵד, לִשְׁמֹר וְלַעֲשׂוֹת. וְתֶן לָהּ אֲרִיכוּת יָמִים וְשָׁנִים, חַיִים שֶׁל יִרְאַת חֵטְא, חַיִים שֶׁל עֹשֶׁר וְכָבוֹד, חַיִים שֶׁתְּמַלֵא מִשְׁאֲלוֹת לִבָּהּ לְטוֹבָה. אָמֵן, וְכֵן יְהִי רָצוֹן.
Master of the Universe, may it be Your will that she be worthy, favored, and acceptable before You, as if we had offered her before the throne of Your glory. May You, in Your abundant mercy, send through your holy angels a holy and pure soul to our daughter who has just been inscribed with Your great name, and may her heart be as open to Your holy Torah as the entrance to the Sanctuary, to learn and to teach, to observe and to fulfill. Bestow upon her length of days and years, a sin-fearing life, a life of abundance and honor, a life in which her heartfelt wishes are filled for the good. Amen, and so may it be Your will.
MC / Honored Guest:
יְבָרֶכְךָ ה’ וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ.
יָאֵר ה’ פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ וִיחֻנֶךָּ.
יִשָׂא ה’ פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם.
May God bless you and protect you.
May God’s face shine on you and be gracious to you.
May God lift the divine presence to you and bring you wholeness and peace
Hamal’akh hagoel oti
Y’varekh et han’arim
V’yikarei vahem sh’mi
AvrahamAbraham is the first patriarch and the father of the Jewish people. He is the husband of Sarah and the father of Isaac and Ishmael. God's covenant - that we will be a great people and inherit the land of Israel - begins with Abraham and is marked by his circumcision, the first in Jewish history. His Hebrew name is Avraham. v’Yitzkhak
הַמַלְאָךְ הַגֹאֵל אֹתִי
וְיִקָרֵא בָהֵם שְׁמִי
May the angel who has redeemed me
From all harm
Bless the children
may they be called by my name
And the names of my fathers
AbrahamAbraham is the first patriarch and the father of the Jewish people. He is the husband of Sarah and the father of Isaac and Ishmael. God's covenant - that we will be a great people and inherit the land of Israel - begins with Abraham and is marked by his circumcision, the first in Jewish history. His Hebrew name is Avraham. and IsaacAbraham and Sarah's much-longed-for son and the second Jewish patriarch. Isaac is nearly sacrificed by his father at God's command (Genesis 22). He is married to Rebecca and is the father of Esau and Jacob. His Hebrew name is Yitzchak.
And may they multiply like fish
Upon the earth
(Parents / MC invite guests to festive meal)