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Judaism Rituals: Infants

When it comes to the rituals, traditions, and beliefs of Judaism, adherents include daily prayer and Sabbath services in their religious practices. Throughout their lives, a handful of occasions and life events bring families together and acknowledge the growth of individuals. In this article, you will encounter some of the special ceremonies that a person of the Jewish faith follows from the time they are born until their death.

Naming Ceremonies

After a Jewish child is born, the father of the baby is called upon to recite the ‘aliyah’ and ask for blessings that the child and mother are healthy. This takes place at the synagogue on the first Sabbath. If the baby is a girl, she is given a name at this time. However, if the baby is a boy, he will not receive his name until the eighth day after birth, which is when the rite of circumcision is performed.

In traditional circles, a Jewish child is given both a Hebrew name and secular name. His or her Hebrew name is used during religious rituals, such as entering a marriage contact , also known as the ‘ketubah.’ The secular name is used for civil birth records and everyday use. For boys, the Hebrew name is given in the form of “[child’s name] bar [father’s name]” or for girls ,  “[child’s name] bat [father’s name].” There are differing approaches to completing a naming ceremony and for the choosing of the name. For example, Ashkenazi Jews follow a tradition of naming their offspring after a relative that has recently passed away.

The Rite of Circumcision

A significant practice of Judaism is the rite of circumcision, also known as ‘brit milah.’ Performed on the eighth day of a baby boy’s life, the ritual is often done in the morning at the parent’s house. For girls, there is no comparable ritual and there is no such thing as a ‘female circumcision’ in Judaism. It is Genesis 17:10-14 that mentions circumcision. The rite is associated with the willingness to participate in Israel’s covenant with God. Both the father and child must participate. Fathers oversee the circumcision of their sons and grown men who have not undergone the process are expected to do the same.

If a man does not participate in the rite of circumcision, they suffer what is known as ‘kareit.’ It doesn’t matter how observant they are in all other aspects of the religion , the rite is important to the religion. The ritual is so significant that it is performed on the Sabbath and even on holidays , even though it is prohibited to draw blood on these occasions.

However, if a child is not healthy when it comes time to perform the rite, it can be postponed for a later date and cannot take place until seven days has past after a doctor has given the child a clean bill of health.