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Rabbi Zachary Hepner

It’s a Girl!

Dear Parents (to be)…

The first joyful task to be performed is that of giving your daughter a Jewish (Hebrew, Yiddish or Ladino) name. It is said that in ancient times one of the reasons the Jews were redeemed from Egypt was because they did not give up their Hebrew names. Ashkenazic Jews (usually of Eastern or Central European descent) traditionally name their daughters after someone who has passed on, thereby honoring the memory of the departed; Sephardic Jews (usually of Western European or Middle Eastern descent) traditionally name their daughters after living grandparents.

How does one name a girl in the Jewish tradition? When a baby girl is born and she is brought back to the parents in the bassinet in the pink blanket, the parents may simply say: Child, your Jewish name is Chana Rivka (or whatever name they have chosen for their daughter. This is just an example.) That is all that is required. You have given your daughter her Jewish name.

The most common tradition is to name a baby girl on the next available day when the Torah is read. We read the Torah on Monday and Thursday mornings, Shabbat mornings and afternoons, festivals and holy days. The father (or grandfather) is called to the Torah, special prayers and blessings are recited on behalf of the mother and newborn baby, and the name that the parents have chosen is formally announced to the community. (Remember, she was already officially named in the hospital following her birth.)

Many new traditions have evolved in recent years providing other ways to celebrate the birth of a daughter. Parents may wish to have a special gathering at a later date to afford the new mother and baby the opportunity to share in the celebration. On Shabbat, a Kiddush or luncheon may be held in the synagogue following services. In addition to the meal, the new parents may offer a few words describing their feelings about the birth of their daughter, perhaps including an explanation of the baby’s Jewish name(s). No event such as this is complete without a D’var Torah, a brief exposition relating to the portion of the week or other relevant Jewish themes.

The Zeved Ha-Bat (Gift of a Daughter) ceremony consists of a few verses from the “Song of Songs”, the naming prayer and “Psalm 128”. Alternatively, one might celebrate the birth of a girl with a Simchat Bat (Joy of a Daughter) ceremony. A service is created involving the family and other important participants using blessings, prayers, poetry and song to honor the baby girl. A Simchat Bat or Zeved Ha-Bat may take place at any time before your daughter’s first birthday.

Sample Program

Simchat Bat

  • Baby Girl’s English Name
  • Baby Girl’s Hebrew Name
  • English Birthdate
  • Hebrew Birthdate


  • Rabbi Hepner
  • Psalm 128
  • Grandparents
  • Shehechiyanu Blessing
  • Father
  • Birkat Hagomel
  • Mother
  • The Naming
  • Rabbi Hepner
  • Explanation of the Name
  • Father and Mother
  • Blessing over the Wine – Hagafen
  • Great Grandparent
  • Blessing over the Bread – Hamotzi
  • Great-Uncle

Congratulations and Mazel Tov!

  • The Simchat Bat for [name] took place on [English Birthdate] corresponding to the [Hebrew Birthdate].