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Mazaltov.co.uk  - Baby Births
Baby birth is of course a major event for the Jews and is always followed by a celebration no matter if it is a boy or a girl. When it comes to baby names, naming rituals and holding baby showers, the Jewish communities have a slightly different tradition than other religious communities.

After childbirth, the father is called up to bless the reading of the Torah in the synagogue. If the baby is a girl, she is given a name at that time. But if it is a boy, he is named during the Brit Milah or circumcision ceremony which is usually performed on the eighth day after birth. The boy’s name is traditionally kept secret until the ritual circumcision. But regardless if the baby is a boy or a girl, a blessing is recited in the synagogue for the mother’s and child’s health when the father takes an aliyah.

While Brit Milah is observed by all Jewish communities including the most secular Jews, celebration and name-giving ceremonies for newborn girls vary from one community to another. While celebration of baby girl birth among the Ashkenazi Jews is often limited to the father announcing the birth and naming the girl in the synagogue, the Sephardi Jews typically celebrate birth of a baby girl by holding the so-called Zeved Habat celebration during which various blessings and verses are recited, and the girl is publicly named. With an aim to welcome a newly born baby girl equally to a boy, many Jewish parents are observing the traditional celebrations such as the mentioned Zeved Habat but many also decide for relatively new ceremonies such as Simchat Bat or Brit Bat which, however, are based on the Jewish tradition.

There are no rules when it comes to naming the child. The name has no direct relation with the religion and it does not have to be Hebrew at all. Thus it is not uncommon for the Jewish parents who live in the Western countries to give their babies English names. Ashkenazi Jews often name their children after a recently deceased relative with an aim to honour that relative. Naming a child after a living relative or a parent is unusual among the Ashkenazi Jews but it is not uncommon among the Sephardi Jews.

Baby showers before the child’s birth were traditionally avoided by the Jewish communities. In most cases, the expectant parents did not even discuss the baby’s name or purchase baby clothing, crib, etc. before birth. Until the progress of medicine in the 19th and especially 20th century, miscarriages and stillbirths were relatively common. Therefore it is not difficult to understand why some Jewish parents still avoid drawing too much attention to their unborn child including avoiding baby showers before birth. 

The attitude towards baby showers among the Jewish communities, however, is changing and many Jewish couples like to have a baby shower before the actual birth. In fact, some may even be offended if their family or friends do not throw a baby shower although the others prefer to follow the Jewish tradition. As much as baby showers are concerned, it is best to consult the expectant parents and respect their wishes.