The Birth Of A Child In Jewish Culture

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As in all cultures, the birth of a child is an occasion for joyous celebration in Judaism. Indeed, the first commandment in the Torah is to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28). The first part of the Jewish rite of passage is the birth of the child, each gender would have specific things that they do to make the children right in the eyes of God.

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The birth of the son ritual entails the boy to be circumcised. Male circumcision is known and practiced by many peoples. In Judaism it is a religious requirement, based on a divine command: This is my covenant which you shall keep; every male among you shall be circumcised, and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin. (Genesis 17:10 – 11).

It is the first life-cycle ritual that is mentioned in the Torah. It signifies a commitment by the Jewish people to the divine being, recorded as a physical sign on the body. The circumcision is carried out on the eighth day after birth, or later if medical reasons make postponement advisable. The operation takes place in the midst of family and friends, symbolizing the community’s welcome to the new-born child. Prayers and benedictions are recited, a Hebrew name is bestowed on the child, and all present express the wish that he may progress from one sacred moment of his life to another, particularly to marriage and good deeds. (Jewish rites of Passage 1 ). The birth of the daughter ritual is much different than that of the son’s ritual which is more physical than anything else. The birth of a Jewish daughter is celebrated by the father being called to the reading of the Torah in the synagogue on the first Sabbath (or Monday or Thursday – when the Torah is read) after the birth. A blessing is pronounced, and the baby’s name is announced. Further ceremonials on the birth of a daughter have developed in recent years. These rituals have been given a variety of different names, such as Simchat Bat (Rejoicing of the Daughter) or Brit B’not Yisrael (The Covenant of the Daughters of Israel). A service and celebration of the event takes place in the home. (Jewish rites of Passage1.)

As the Jewish kids get older the boys and girls celebrate their coming of age differently than most other religions and rites of passage of the coming of age for the teenagers to be. ‘Bar Mitzvah’ literally mean ‘son of the mitzvot’ (commandments). When a Jewish boy reaches the age of 13, whether he ‘celebrates’ it or not, he is now bound to live by the commandments of the Torah. From that date, he will wear tefillin on a daily basis, participate in synagogue services and take his place in the Jewish community.

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