Brit Shemot: Baby Naming Ceremony

Brit Shemot: ברית שמות

To be performed on the 8th day or another day.

This ritual can follow a circumcision or stand alone.

Opening song

Family or officiant selects one of the following songs or another meaningful song or niggun
 

Psalm 150

כל הנשמה תהלל יה

הללו יה

Kol ha’neshamah te’hallel yah

Halleuyah

With every breath we praise the Source of Life

בשם ה’ אלוהי ישראל

מימיני מיכאל

ומישמולי גבריאל

ומילפני אוריאל

ומאחורי רפאל

ועל ראשי שכינת אל

B’shem ha’shem elohei yisrael

Mi’mini Mikha’el

U’mis’moli Gavri’el

U’mil’fanai Uri’el

U’meakhorai Refa’el

Ve’al roshi (x2) Shekhinat El

In the name of the Divine,

On my right is Mikha’el   [Angel of mercy]

And on my left Gavri’el   [Angel of strength]

Before me Uri’el                [Angel of light]

And behind me Refa’el   [Angel of healing]

And upon my head, the Divine presence.
 

Baby is carried in by family members and handed to sandek sitting beside Elijah’s chair.
 

Leader:

Repeat after me:

ברוך הבא or ברוכה הבאה

Brukha haba’ah or barukh haba

Welcome Little One!

Our tradition teaches that the birth of a child brings with it a new possibility for redemption, for transformative justice, for peace and wholeness. This hope is embodied in that little life nestled in loving arms and sitting beside Elijah’s chair.   

זה הכסא של אליהו הנביא זכור לטוב

לשועתך קויתי יי

This is the chair of Elijah the prophet, whom we remember well.

We pray that this child be an instrument of Divine salvation.
 

This little one has come to us from a long journey. We greet him/her with love and welcome by washing his/her hands and feet, as it is written:

יקח נא מעט מים ורחצו רגליכם

נשאב מים מבאר מרים הנביאה

Let some water be brought so you may wash your feet. (Genesis 18:4)

We draw up the waters of Miriam’s well.
 

The child’s hands and feet are washed.
 

Covenant of Naming:

And Jacob wrestled with the angel until day break. The angel begs to be let go. Jacob refuses and demands a blessing. In response, the angel renames him. Vayomar lo yaakov yeamer od shimkha —Your name shall no longer be Jacob, Ki im Yisrael — But rather you shall be Israel (Genesis 32:29). And so begets a people. This is a story of names, both hidden and revealed. Names that bring us into relationship with God. Names that call our truest selves into being. Names tell something of our character and our journey. We learn from Jacob that names have the power to transform how we are seen and how we see ourselves. We learn from Jacob that to be blessed is to be given a new name.

Our tradition teaches that each of us has three names. The name our parents call us. The name we are called by God. And the names we call ourselves. Today we will hear the first of many names and nicknames this little one will be known by and in so doing bind the life of this little one with the ancient covenant of the Jewish people.  

Leader:

ברוך אתה ה’ אלהינו מלך העולם להכניסה/ו בברית

Barukh atah adonai, eloheinu melekh ha’olam, l’hakhnisah/o bivrit.

Blessed are You, Source of all Life, who welcomes this little one into the covenant.
 

Eloheinu velohei avoteinu v’imoteinu god of all of our ancestors kayem et hayeled/hayeldah hazeh l’horim sustain this child. Let her/him be known among the people of Israel, Vayikare shemo/shema b’yisrael _________________l’veit/ben/bat  _____________________ v’ _____________________ and let his/her name be called around these parts __________ child of ________ and ________.  May the new parents rejoice in the growth of their seedling. Ki imkha m’kor hayyim b’orkha nireh or. For with you, Holy One, is the Source of Life and by your light we shall see light.  

(Repeat after me)

Hodu ladonai ki tov, ki l’olam chasda.
 

Parents explain name and bless their child:

Parents can choose to use the language of blessing below

“We wish for you, ______, what we wish for all children. We wish for you to be a person of character, strong but not tough, gentle but not weak. We wish for you to be righteous, but not self-righteous, honest but not unforgiving. Whenever you journey, may your steps be firm, and may you walk in just paths and not be afraid. Whenever you speak, may your words be words of wisdom. May your hands build and your heart preserve what is good and beautiful in our world. May the voices of generations of our people move through you, and may the God of our ancestors be your God as well. May you know that there is a people, a rich heritage to which you belong, and from that sacred place you are connected to all who dwell on earth. May the stories of our people be upon your heart and the grace of the Torah rhythm dance in your soul.”

—Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso
 

Everyone:

(repeat after me)

זה הקטן גדול יהיה or זאת הקטנה גדולה תהיה

Ze hakatan, gadol yehiye or Zot haketanah, gedolah tehiye

May this little one be great!

Leader:

It is traditional for a birth parent to recite Birkat HaGomel following the birth of a child. This is a blessing of gratitude, specifically following a life-threatening situation. For some, childbirth is just that. But for others of us, the gratitude stems from a place of overwhelming joy and connection. Rebbe Nahman teaches that the whole entire world is a very narrow bridge, and the important thing is not to make ourselves afraid. With this blessing, the birth parent expresses gratitude both for having survived childbirth and even more so, for the the ongoing journey of freeing ourselves from the fear and shame of our own bodies.
 

The birth parent recites:

ברוך אתה ה’ אלהינו מלך העולם

 הגומל לחיבים טובות שגמלני כל טוב  

Barukh atah adonai, eloheinu melekh ha’olam, hagomel l’hayyavim tovot sh’gemalani kol tuv

Blessed are you, Source of Life, who bestows kindness in spite of our failings,

for bestowing every kindness upon me.

All respond:

מי שגמלך כל טוב הוא יגמלך כל טוב סלה

Mi sheh’gmalekh kol tov, hu yig’malekh kol tov selah.

May the one who has bestowed upon you every kindness bestow upon you every kindness forever.
 

Officiant blesses parents:  

May God who blessed all of our ancestors, bless you (insert names) as you accept the sacred responsibility of parenthood.

May you give your child the love and support to be who s/he will be.

May your love be strengthened as you help each other to grow into this role of parent to this child.
 

May you allow yourselves to be surprised to who this child will be.

May you remain open to who each of you will become as you grow and change knowing that this new life has much to teach you.

May you feel seen and supported by your families and communities.

May you be blessed with creativity, flexibility, and patience.

May the Source of Blessing bless you in this awesome journey.
 

—English adapted from Rabbi Alissa Wise
 

יברכך ה’ וישמרך

יאר ה’ פניו אליך ויחנך

ישה ה’ פניו אליך וישם לך שלום

May the Holy One bless you and keep you.
May the Holy One shine light upon you and be gracious to you.
May the Holy One turn towards you and give you peace.

Closing Song:

אור חדש על ציון תאיר

ונזכה כולנו במהרה לאורו

Or hadash al tzion tair

v’nizke hulanu bimheirah l’oro

May a new light shine on Zion

And soon may we all be worthy of its radiance

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