We’ve already talked about the importance and tradition of the brit milah. When you are planning a shower for a baby boy, the process is fairly simple. You can simply follow the recommendations of the mohel and organize things accordingly. For that matter, you can even turn to him for Jewish baby naming ideas.
In the case of a brit bat, a Simchat Batt (or a zeved habat), the naming ceremony for a baby girl, you and the rabbi will be mostly responsible for organizing the ceremony.
This process might look a bit overwhelming, but a brit bat and the Simchat Bat can be a lot easier with the right planning and knowledge.
Before jumping into the details, make sure you are on the same page with your partner and close family regarding the brit bat. Are you going to have a huge party or would you like to have the zeved habat with a small circle of family and friends? Would you like to have the ceremony in the synagogue, or can you arrange it for your home?
You will also want to focus a bit on the religious aspects of the ceremony. The Simchat Bat, or the daughter’s celebration, is the most common term for this ceremony. However, it can also be called a brit bat when considering the ceremony from a covenantal aspect. Lastly, the Sephardim call the ceremony the “gift or a daughter” or a zeved habat.
When you have discussed the religious aspects of the event with your family, the next important thing to determine is the timing for the brit bat. As you may know, the brit milah will be typically held on the eighth day of his life, even if that day falls on Yom Kippur or Shabbat. In the case of a baby girl, the timing is more flexible. The Simchat Bat can be held on the eighth day, but you can also time it for the 14th day. Additionally, you can also have a zeved habat after 30 days of her life and even after 80 days.
Most families will usually wait for the first appropriate and convenient Shabbat for the brit bat. As a matter of fact, some will even time it for a Sunday, making sure that the extended family may join the ceremony too.
Organizing the Event’s Setting
After deciding where and when you will have the big day, you will need to think about the tasks that pertain to the location. If you have the brit bat in a synagogue, the ritual will probably take place in the sanctuary, and you will have catering options in the hall of the synagogue.
On the other hand, if you are thinking about having the brit bat at home, then you will probably have to improvise and use the living room for the ceremony and the dining room for catering. If you are choosing this option, make sure that there will be enough seating. While most guests will probably stand during the ceremony, older friends and family will most likely want to sit. Afterward, make sure that everybody will have a chair during the feast.
Think About the Brit Bat Itself
Would you like the ceremony to be modern, or are you thinking about taking a more traditional route? Are you alright with newer, more innovative rituals, or would you like to hear the traditional blessings and prayers? What would be the context of the central ritual? Do you want the event to focus on your baby girl’s arrival into your family, or do you want the ceremony to focus on her role as another building block of Jewish peoplehood and rich history?
You can always turn to your rabbi for guidance to discuss these questions. Additionally, mohels may also be able to give you valuable advice. Lastly, if you live in a larger and more active Jewish community, you can ask around to brainstorm ideas and learn about other examples.
Other Simchat Bat Considerations
Just as in the case of a brit milah, if you want to do the brit bat according to the traditions, there will be a few Jewish ritual objects you will have to incorporate.
Make sure you assemble these things before the ceremony. For example, if you are planning to wrap the baby in a prayer shawl (a tallit), you may need to borrow one from a relative if you don’t have yours. The same goes for a wedding canopy that’s suspended over the rest of the family during the event. Either dig up yours from your storage or get one from your synagogue. As a matter of fact, you may also be able to use the tallit for that purpose.
The same goes for candles if you plan on lighting them. Have them at the ready, along with the matches and the candleholders. If you also want to have challah bread and have the pertaining blessing performed, it’s also advisable to get the challah cover and a knife ready too.
Lastly, you will also want to decorate your place adequately with festive decorations (if you are having the ceremony at home). You can also involve your baby daughter’s siblings and cousins in the process by getting them to draw and hang up signs of welcome.
Consider Having a Brit Bat Program at the Ready for Your Guests
A printed program guide can be a great way to make the welcoming ceremony more streamlined for everybody in the family. It aids everyone in following the ceremony, and it can also serve as an outstanding keepsake later in your daughter’s life.
You don’t really need the program to be anything over-the-top stylish or fancy. It can be something rather simple you can make on your computer and later copy. If you don’t have Hebrew on your computer, you can always copy/and paste the prayers from prayerbooks.
Also, you can include a family tree in the program, which you can either draw by hand or digitally.
You will want to include your baby girl’s name on the cover if you are okay with revealing it before the event. If you are more on the traditional side, you may leave the name out, but you will want to have the title of the welcoming ceremony, the location, and the date.
Remember, the program is a useful tool in the ceremony, but it’s not something that should take center stage in the organizing process. If you want to spend time designing it, you can. However, if you want something professionally done or simply don’t have the time to do it yourself, you can always hire someone to do it for you.
Rejoice for Your Daughter
Lastly, never forget that the main idea behind this ceremony is to welcome your newborn baby girl into this world and the Jewish covenant. The joy of having her enter your life and the community should be your number one priority, so try not to get overly caught up in the planning and organizing processes.
Planning out everything in time can surely lessen the stress. Additionally, you can always reach out to Dr. Krinsky for valuable advice regarding any religious ceremony.