Boys: The Brit Mila
The naming ceremony and circumcision of a male infant is called the Brit Milah (or Bris). It is the welcoming of a male child into Jewish life and is attended by the parents, godparents and friends.
The Bris usually takes place at home eight days after the child is born. Traditionally, there was just one godparent who had to be a Jewish male, and was known as a Sandek. More liberal parents may opt for two Sandeks, one of who may be a woman, and in some cases the requirement of Jewish ancestry is waived. One of the Sandeks holds the baby during the procedure.
Traditionally, the ceremony involves two chairs. One for the Sandek and one for Elijah the Prophet. A specially trained individual, called a Mohel (or Moyhil), performs the circumcision. A drop of wine may be given to the baby if he starts crying. The baby's Hebrew name is then announced for the first time.
Some parents do not have their son circumcised and instead opt for a naming ceremony, as below.
Girls: Baby Naming
The traditional equivalent for Jewish girls is a naming ceremony that is held at the synagogue on the first Saturday (Shabbat) after birth.
An extract from the Torah is read, usually by the baby's father, and her Hebrew name is announced. Traditionally, sweets are thrown to wish the baby and her parents a sweet life.
The naming ceremony for a girl may follow a different and less traditional structure. A more modern celebration is called Brit Ha-Hayim (covenant of life).
Guests and Celebrations
Guests should take a small present for the baby along with them.
There is normally a small celebration following the ceremonies.