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Zeved habat (Sephardic) or Simchat bat (Ashkenazi) are terms for the ritual for naming infant Jewish girls. These rituals are parallel to the brit milah ceremony for Jewish boys, albeit without the circumcision.

  • Zeved habat (also written Zebed habat) (Hebrew: זֶבֶד הַבָּת) is the name of the traditional Sephardic Jewish naming ceremony.
  • In Ashkenazi Judaism, there has been a variety of simple namegiving ceremonies for girls, many of which were a simple announcement by the father of the newborn daughter in synagogue. In the last century both Modern Orthodox and non-Orthodox Ashkenazi Jews have revived interest in these little known traditional ceremonies for welcoming baby girls, and have developed innovative ceremonies. These ceremonies are often known under the newly coined terms Simchat Bat or a Brit Bat.

History of baby naming for girls

Israeli Masorti (Conservative) Rabbi David Golinkin writes that "Amazingly enough, there is no explicit source in the Mishnah or both Talmuds which teaches us when boys or girls were named." (When Should Baby Girls Be Named?)

By the medieval period, there apparently was a time period after which a baby girl or baby boy should be named, the period for girl is called the Shavua Habat while the name of the period for the boy is called the Shavua Haben. In a discussion of which event a person should go to, if invited to two such events at the same time, Nahmanides writes:

"and in another version of [Massekhet Semahot] it is taught: Shavua Habat [= the week of the daughter] and Shavua Haben – Shavua Haben comes first."
In other words, if you have to choose between going to Shavua Haben or Shavua Habat, the former takes precedence. It is clear from this source that Shavua Haben is not a brit milah, because girls do not have a brit milah!
(When Should Baby Girls Be Named?)

In early medieval German Jewish communities a baby naming ceremony was developed for both girls and boys called a Hollekreisch.

It took place on the first Shabbat when the mother went to the synagogue, which was on the fourth Shabbat or on the thirteenth day after the birth. It took place after Shabbat lunch. Boys recited the Hollekreisch for boys and girls for girls. The newborn children were dressed up; baby boys were dressed in a tallit and the book of Vayikra (Leviticus) was placed in the crib. Then, they would lift up the crib and shout in German:
Hollekreisch ! How shall the baby be called? Ploni Ploni Ploni (i.e. his or her name three times).
This is repeated three times and then nuts, sweets and fruits were given to the boys and girls.
Originally, this was the German custom for both boys and girls. In time, they stopped performing the ceremony for boys, since they were named in any case at the brit, and they observed it only for girls. Rabbi Yaakov Emden (d. 1776) says there was not a fixed custom to recite the verses for girls. Girls received a Hebrew name or a secular name at the Hollekreisch.
(When Should Baby Girls Be Named?)

Sephardic ceremony: Zeved habat

The Zeved habat ceremony is usually celebrated within the first month of the girl's birth and may be celebrated privately in the synagogue or in a party at home. The ceremony will often be lead by the ḥakhám (Rabbi) or the hazzan (Cantor).

The main elements of the ceremony are the mother's thanksgiving for deliverance (Birkat gomel); the recital of Song of Songs 2:14 (and, in the case of the first daughter born to the mother, Song of Songs 6:9); and the namegiving prayer itself in the form of Mi sheberakh (imoteinu) (see below). Additional elements may include Psalm 128 and the Priestly Blessing (Birkat kohanim).

Text of Mi shebberach for naming of daughter

מִי שֶׁבֵּרַךְ (אִמּוֹתֵינוּ) שָׂרָה וְרִבְקָה. רָחֵל וְלֵאָה. וּמִרְיָם הַנְּבִיאָה וַאֲבִיגַיִל. וְאֶסְתֵּר הַמַּלְכָּה בַּת אֲבִיחַיִל. הוּא יְבָרֵךְ אֶת הַיַּלְדָּה הַנְּעִימָה הַזּאת. וְיִקָּרֵא שְׁמָהּ (בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל) פלונית. בְּמַזַּל טוֹב וּבְשַׁעַת בְּרָכָה. וִיגַדְּלֶהָ בִּבְרִיאוּת שָׁלוֹם וּמְנוּחָה. וִיזַכֶּה לְאָבִיהָ וּלְאִמָּהּ לִרְאוֹת בְּשִׂמְחָתָהּ וּבְחֻפָּתָהּ. בְּבָנִים זְכָרִים. עשֶׁר וְכָבוֹד. דְּשֵׁנִים וְרַעֲנַנִּים יְנוּבוּן בְּשֵׂיבָה. וְכֵן יְהִי רָצוֹן וְנאמַר אָמֵן׃

“The one Who blessed our mothers, Sarah and Rivkah, Rachel and Leah, and the prophet Miriam and Abigayil and Queen Esther, daughter of Abichayil — may they bless this beloved girl and let her name be Chava with good luck and in a blessed hour; and may she grow up with good health, peace and tranquility; and may her father and her mother see her joy, riches and honour; and may they be healthy into old age; and may this be the will, and say ye, Amen!”.

Iraqi Jewish ceremonies

On the sixth night after birth, for both girls and boys, Iraqi Jews hold a Shisha festival. It is then that girls receive their name, while the boy does not receive his name until the brit milah.

Ashkenazi ceremonies

In traditional Ashkenazi Judaism, the father is called to the Torah either at the next time it is read in synagogue or, for some, on the first Shabbat after the daughter is born, and the name of the daughter is announced which is observed by all groups within Haredi Judaism and Hasidic Jews. Some form private or communal celebration, known as a kiddush ("sanctification") is then held for family and friends either at home or at the synagogue. It is considered an important gesture that many believe will enhance the future mazel ("good fortune") of the newly-named baby girl. People wish the parents: "Tizku legadlah LeTorah (UleBen Torah) LeChupah UleMa'asim Tovim" ("May you merit to raise her to grow up to [learn] Torah ([and to marry a] son of Torah), to Marry and to [practice] Good Deeds [the Mitzvot]").

Recent innovations

In recent years many Ashkenazi Jews have developed a ceremony for girls which is now known as the Simchat Bat (Celebration for the daughter) or Brit Bat (loosely, welcoming the new daughter into the covenant.) While still evolving, this ceremony has gained acceptance in Jewish communities of most, but not all denominations. Different forms of this ceremony exist in Modern Orthodox Judaism, Conservative Judaism, and Reform Judaism. This newer ceremony is not practiced by Haredi Judaism.

The celebration typically consists of a communal welcoming, a naming done over a cup of wine with the quotation of appropriate biblical verses, and traditional blessings.

Conservative Judaism

"Moreh Derekh", the Rabbi's manual of the Conservative Judaism movement's Rabbinical Assembly, presents a ceremony based on traditional Jewish forms, with a number of options that parents may choose to perform: (A) Lighting seven candles (symbolizing the seven days of creation) and holding the baby towards them, (B) Wrapping the baby in the four corners of a tallit (Jewish prayer shawl), or (C) Lifting the baby and touching her hands to a Torah scroll.


Zeved habat

  • Herbert C. Dobrinsky: A treasury of Sephardic laws and customs: the ritual practices of Syrian, Moroccan, Judeo-Spanish and Spanish and Portuguese Jews of North America. Revised edition. Hoboken, NJ (Ktav); New York, NY (Yeshiva Univ. Press), 1988. (Pages 3-29.)
  • Book of prayer of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews' Congregation, London. Volume One: Daily and occasional prayers. Oxford (Oxford Univ. Press, Vivian Ridler), 5725 - 1965. (Page 180.)

Ashkenazi customs

  • "Namegiving", in A guide to Jewish religious practice, by Isaac Klein. New York (JTS), 1979. (Page 429.)
  • "Berit Benot Yisrael", in Hadesh Yameinu = Renew our days: A book of Jewish prayer and meditation, Ronald Aigen. Montreal (Cong. Dorshei Emet), 1996. pages 228-233
  • Mothers and Children: Jewish Family Life in Medieval Europe Elisheva Baumgarten, Princeton University Press

See also

  • Honorifics in Judaism

External links

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Zeved habat. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.