Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Baby Naming

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A couple recently contacted me via email to ask me for help in preparing for their daugher's upcoming baby naming.

When my own daughter, Zehara Yehudit, was born, I found myself dissatisfied with the standard text for a girl's naming (we Sephardim call it a Zeved Habat.) In general, when called upon to name a newborn girl in my current synagogue, I freely amend the phraseology in the Siddur that I find objectionable. I followed the same practice when I served the Sephardic community in Riverdale, NY. There is nothing problematic about this, since the format of a baby naming is a matter of custom and not Jewish law.

I am certain that the lackluster and, in my opinion, blatantly sexist wording of the traditional Zeved Habat prayer reflects the general preference Jewish people (especially Sephardim) have for boys. Not to mention the fact that the birth of a male child is always followed by a Berit Millah and is therefore perceived by the community as a more significant event than the birth of a female.

As a result, just over two years ago, I took it upon myself to compose a prayer that is based on traditional sources but is more consistent with my personal view of the spiritual significance of the birth of a new daughter. I hope the thoughts and sentiments it contains resonate with my readership as well.

To download the Zeved Habat prayer, click here. Feedback will be much appreciated.