If you are expecting a child, whether through birth or adoption, the clergy can assist you with ritual and pastoral needs.
Welcoming a Son
Eight days after the birth of a son (barring any medical need), parents enter their son into the covenant between the Jewish people and God through the ritual of brit milah, a religious circumcision. This practice traditionally began with Abraham.
The brit milah is a positive commandment of the Torah, and is carried out even if the eighth day falls on Shabbat, a Festival, or even Yom Kippur. The brit milah (also known as a bris), is performed by a mohel (religious specialist in circumcision) in the home or the synagogue. The ceremony consists of a blessing recited by the mohel upon performing the milah, blessings recited by a parent or parents, and a blessing in which the boy is given his Hebrew name. Many families share a festive sudat mitzvah (sacred meal following a mitzvah or joyous event) after the ceremony.
Following the brit milah, it is customary to invite the family to the synagogue for an aliyah to be called tothe Torah), during which time the baby is introduced to the greater community and offered a blessing.
Welcoming a Daughter
Traditionally, in Ashkenazi communities, daughters were welcomed into the community at the synagogue. A father was honored with an aliyah, a prayer was said for the health of the mother and daughter, and the girl was named. At B'nai Jacob, mothers and fathers are called to the Torah for an aliyah with the baby girl. Mothers may also choose to recite birkat hagomel, the blessing said upon coming through a dangerous experience.
Today, there are covenant and naming ceremonies that may be performed in the synagogue or the home that the clergy can assist you with. We encourage families to draw on the wealth of innovative ritual and liturgy available in designing a ceremony that is personally meaningful. There is no prescribed time for holding a covenant ceremony for a daughter; many families choose a time that is most convenient to gather relatives and friends. We suggest that you not wait too long, for this ritual is intended to both name the child and welcome her into the covenant of the Jewish people.