Mazal Tov! Expecting a child, whether through birth or adoption, can be both a source of tremendous joy and of tremendous anxiety, but you are not alone. PSJC is here to support you as you welcome a new addition to your family. If a meal train for the first few weeks would be helpful, please let us know (firstname.lastname@example.org), and we will help to make that happen.
We are also very happy to welcome your new child into the covenant of the Jewish people in general and the PSJC community in particular with Brit Milah, Baby Naming Ceremonies and Pidyon haBen. We are also here to support families dealing with the challenges of Infertility.
Brit Milah (Bris)
Brit Milah has been a central part of welcoming a baby boy into the covenant for thousands of years. According to tradition, since Abraham circumcised himself and then his sons, this ritual has served as a sign of the covenant between God and the Jewish people. Isaac was the first to be circumcised at 8 days old, and since then, Brit Milah occurs on (or sometimes right after) the eighth day of a baby boy’s life, unless there are medical circumstances that demand that it be postponed. Please be in touch with Rabbi Carter to discuss when the bris should occur. We also have lists of mohalim (individuals trained to do ritual circumcision) with whom we often work, and who might be able to help with this important ritual.
During the Brit Milah, the baby is welcomed into the Covenant and the circumcision is performed. Then the baby is given his Hebrew name. If you would like help thinking about your child’s Hebrew name, feel free to contact Rabbi Carter. Brit Milah is generally followed by a Seudat Mitzvah, a meal of celebration.
Brit Milah may be done in people’s homes or in the synagogue. Please contact the office if you would like to perform the Brit Milah at PSJC.
During Covid, the availability of space is very much determined by safety concerns, and while we all wish we could be physically present to celebrate, we have had many Britot (circumcisions) Zoomed out from people’s home where essentially immediate family and the mohel were present. Again, Rabbi Carter is more than happy to discuss various creative options during the time of this pandemic.
It is our pleasure to greet your child into the broader community one Shabbat following the Brit (or "Bris"). Little is better than welcoming a new child into our community, and so, we hope that you will also bring him to the Torah and allow us to offer him a blessing from the community and to celebrate with a nice Kiddush when we are able to be together in person. Again, just speak with the rabbi to start that process along.
At PSJC, Baby Namings are a way of welcoming our daughters into the Covenant, and typically parents choose one of two options:
The baby is welcomed at the Torah during a Shabbat morning service. This is a 10-15 minute ceremony in the midst of the communal service in which the family receives an aliyah, relatives are given an opportunity to offer a blessing to the child if desired, the child receives her Hebrew name, parents share a bit about the name they have chosen for their child and offer her a blessing. We then all have an opportunity to celebrate with a little singing and a Kiddush in the child’s honor.
Another option is to work with the rabbi to create a separate ceremony that holds onto three components: entering the covenant, receiving a name, and blessings for the child (and of course the sharing of a Meal of Celebration). This can be done at home or at the synagogue.
Pidyon HaBen and Pidyon HaBat
This is a special ceremony traditionally reserved for first-born sons, though at PSJC we have introduced Pidyon HaBat for daughters as well. According to Biblical tradition, all “firsts” belong to God, and as such, it was assumed that the first born sons of the Children of Israel would serve in the Temple. However, in lieu of work in the Temple, the Bible states: “Every firstborn of man among your sons, you shall redeem” (Exodus 13:3). In other words, these children do not have to work in the Temple. Instead, the custom developed for parents to “redeem” their firstborn by giving a few coins to a kohen (one of priestly descent). This is traditionally done on the 30th day after birth. If this is something that you are interested in exploring, please be in touch with Rabbi Carter, as the details for who traditionally is eligible are somewhat involved.
We know that there are many in our community who struggle with infertility, and we know what a remarkably challenging experience that can be. Rabbi Carter is available for confidential conversations. We also have members of our community who have themselves struggled with infertility and are available to speak with you if you would like.