Interfaith Clergy Network
Jewish Lifecycle Services

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Naming, blessing and Covenant Ceremonies

The blessing of newborns and adopted children, and the significance of the names by which the child will be called, have always been exceedingly important to Jewish families dating back to biblical times. "A person's name is the essence of his or her being", according to Menachem ben Meier, and historically all faiths and cultures have placed great value on the care taken to select an appropriate name. It is common practice to derive or to use a name of a beloved deceased relative as a fitting memorial, though there is no religious requirement to follow this custom. Cantor Neil Berris is delighted to assist your family in creating a meaningful, and very personal celebration to underscore the joy of welcoming a new life into your home!

Before the naming ceremony Cantor Berris will consult with you at your home, via telephone or video call (Skype or FaceTime) to plan the following details:

  • Developing a "Family Tree" for the child's parents to facilitate the participation of close relations if desired.
  • Selection of "Godparents" who will take an active role in the ceremony
  • Researching the given and Jewish names of loved ones whom the parents may wish to consider as name sources for their child.
  • Reviewing the outline of the ceremony and the various blessings which will be recited
  • Specific family customs or ritual articles which may be included

There are many important teachings derived from biblical and scholarly sources related to the importance of a good and respected name ("Shem Tov"). These may provide some inspiration as you consider and discuss your choices:

  • "Every person has three names: one parents give them, one others call them, and one they acquire themselves" (Kohelet Rabah)
  • "A good name is preferable to wealth" (Proverbs 22:1)
  • "A good name is better than fine oil" (Ecclesiastes 7:1)
  • "The name of a person can determine his/her destiny" (Talmud B'rachot 7b) 

 It is fitting that the naming ceremony be held within the first three months after your child's birth, or shortly after an adopted child joins your family. However, there is no specific time period in which this celebration must be accomplished. Cantor Berris is also pleased to be present at a ritual/medical circumcision (Brit Milah) or conversion ceremony, when it is traditional to bestow a Jewish name in conjunction with these rituals. When circumcision has already been performed in the hospital, Cantor Berris will assist your family in planning a beautiful "Covenant Ceremony (Brit Shalom)" to welcome your son into the Jewish community as he is given his Hebrew name.