Below is an ascii and html copy of the pamphlet we put together for Leora's naming. All the Hebrew has been omitted. At the end is a bit of an explanation of what we did and why.
Outline of the service (not part of the original)
(Hebrew omitted) All: Behold, God is my salvation. I trust and am not afraid, for the LORD Eternal is my strength and song, and He is become my liberation. Therefore with joy shall you draw water from the wells of salvation. Thine, O LORD, is salvation; Thy blessing be on Thy people. Selah. LORD of hosts, be with us, God of Jacob, be our high refuge. Selah. LORD of hosts, happy the man who trusts in Thee. LORD, save us, may the King answer us on the day when we call. The Jews had light and gladness, joy and honor. So may it be with us. I will lift the cup of salvation and proclaim the name of the LORD. Lift the cup of wine. Blessed art thou, LORD our God, ruler of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine. Do not drink the wine yet. (Hebrew omitted) Blessed art thou, LORD our God, ruler of the universe, who creates fragrant spices. Smell the spices. Hold your fingers up against the light of the havdalah candle. (Hebrew omitted) Blessed art thou, LORD our God, ruler of the universe, who creates the lights of fire. (Hebrew omitted) Blessed art thou, LORD our God, ruler of the universe, who makes a distinction between sacred and secular, light and darkness, Israel and other peoples, the seventh day and the six days of the week. Blessed art thou, LORD our God, ruler of the universe, who makes a distinction between sacred and secular. Drink some wine. Extinguish the candle in the wine.
If the moon is not visible, read the following and skip the Birkat HaLevanah. May Almighty God bless thee, make thee fruitful and multiply thee, that thou become a gathering of peoples. And may he give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee and to thy seed with thee, that thou mayest inherit the land of thy dwelling which God gave unto Abraham. Mayest thou have blessing from The God of thy father, who shall help thee, And by the Almighty, who shall bless thee, With blessings of heaven above, Blessings of the deep that coucheth beneath, Blessings of the breasts, and of the womb. The blessings of thy father Are mighty beyond the blessings of my progenitors Unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills; They shall be on the head of Joseph, And on the crown of the head of the prince among his brethren. Blessed shalt thou be in the city and blessed shalt thou be in the field. Blessd shalt thou be when thou comest in and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out. Blessed shall be thy basket and thy kneading trough. May the LORD open unto thee His goodly treasury, the heavens, to give thee rain in its season for thy land, and to bless all the work of thy hand.
Go outdoors and look at the moon. All: Blessed art Thou, LORD our God, Ruler of the universe. By thy word Thou didst create the heavens, and by Thy whisper all their host. Thou hast subjected them to their periodic laws, so that they should be constant in their functioning, rejoicing in gladness to fulfill the will of their creator. As true as is their Maker, so faithful is His work. He ordained that the moon should each month be renewed, shining as a glorious diadem, to men bearing the burdens of life a symbol of hope that they also may be reborn to new life, to proclaim the glory of their Creator's dominion. (Hebrew omitted) Blessed art thou, LORD who renews the months. Leader: May the new moon herald an auspicious month for us and all Israel. Blessed be its omnipotent Creator. Reach out toward the moon. All: Were we with our utmost effort to spring toward the moon, we could not touch it. So, if men have evil intentions towards us, may they not come nigh unto us. "May restraining fear befall them. Before Thy saving power may they be still as a stone." Yes, still as a stone may they be before Thy saving power. Leader: David King of Israel ever lives, as it is written, "His throne shall be permanent like the sun before Me, it shall be established for ever as the moon and as a faithful witness in heaven." All: "Create a pure heart for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me." Psalm 121. A Song of Ascents I turn my eyes to the mountains; from where will my help come? My help comes from the LORD, maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot give way; your guardian will not slumber; See, the Guardian of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps! The LORD is your guardian, the LORD is your protection at your right hand. By day the sun will not strike you, nor the moon by night. The LORD will guard you from all harm; He will guard your life. The LORD will guard your going and coming now and forever. Psalm 150 Hallelujah. Praise God in His sanctuary; praise Him in the sky, His stronghold. Praise Him for His mighty acts; praise him for His exceeding greatness. Praise Him with blasts of the horn; praise Him with harp and lyre. Praise him with timbrel and dance; praise Him with lute and pipe. Praise Him with resounding cymbals; praise him with loud-clashing cymbals. Let all that breathes praise the LORD. Hallelujah. In the school of Rabbi Ishmael it was taught: had Israel merited no other privilege than greeting the presence of their heavenly Father once a month (by reciting the benediction over the new moon), they would be contented! Abbaye said: Therefore (since it is a greeting of God's presence), we must recite it standing.
(Hebrew omitted) Blessed art Thou, LORD our God, ruler of the universe. Thou grantest blessings on the undeserving, for on me thou hast Thou bestowed good favor. All: God, blessed and exalted above all blessings and praise, has bestowed on thee His goodly favor, love and grace. May He in His love ever guard thee henceforth and grant thee all good.
New parents: "My dove in the rocky clefts, In the covert of terrace high, Let me see your countenance, Let me hear your voice, For sweet is your voice And your countenance lovely." "One alone is my dove, my perfect, my only one, love of her mother, light of her mother's eyes. Every maiden calls her happy, queens praise her, and all the king's women." (Hebrew omitted) Leader: May he who blessed our mothers Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah, Miriam the prophetess, Abigail, and Esther the queen, bless also this darling babe. At this favorable moment of blessing may her name be called (Hebrew omitted) daughter of (Hebrew omitted). May He bless her to grow up in peace, health and happiness. May He give to her parents the joy of seeing her happily married, a radiant mother of children, rich in honor and joy to a ripe old age. May this be the will of God, and let us say Amen. (Hebrew omitted) Leader: The LORD bless you and keep you. The LORD make His countenance shine upon you and be gracious unto you, The LORD lift up His countenance toward you And give you peace. (Hebrew omitted) Blessed are you, LORD our God, ruler of the universe, who has granted us life and sustenance and permitted us to reach this season. Psalm 128. A Song of Ascents. Happy are all who fear the LORD, who follow His ways. You shall enjoy the fruits of your labors; you shall be happy and you shall prosper. Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children, like olive saplings around your table. So shall the man who fears the LORD be blessed. May the LORD bless you from Zion; may you share the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life, and live to see your children's children. May it be well with Israel! Exchange greetings. Shalom Aleichem! Aleichem Shalom!
Birnbaum, Philip, tranns. Daily Prayer Book [Ha-Siddur Ha-Shalem]. New York: Hebrew Publishing Company, 1949. Talmud Sanhedrin 42a Bloch, Ariel and Bloch, Chana, trans. The Song of Songs. New York: Random House, 1995. Song of Songs 6:9 Jewish Publication Society. The Book of Psalms: A New Translation According to the Traditional Hebrew Text. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1972. Psalms 121, 128, and 150 Jewish Publication Society. The Holy Scriptures According to the Masoretic Text: A New Translation. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America: 1955. Genesis 49:25-26 Orenstein, Debra, ed. Lifecycles: Jewish Women on Life Passages and Personal Milestones, Vol. 1. Woodstock, Vermont: Jewish Lights Publishing, 1994. Zeved HaBat Pool, David De Sola, ed. and trans. Book of Prayers According to the Custom of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews, Second Edition. New York: Union of Sephardic Congregations, 1992. Seder Zeved HaBat; Birkat HaLevanah; Birkat HaGomel United Jewish Appeal. Book of Songs and Blessings, Revised Edition. New York: United Jewish Appeal: 1982. Havdalah; Blessing of the Kohanim; Shehecheyanu
This ceremony was devised for the naming of our firstborn daughter, Leora Rose Priest-Dorman. "Arise, shine, for your light has dawned, God's radiance shines upon you!" (Isaiah 60:1)
Through the planning of this ceremony we were striving toward a consistent spiritual and emotional parity with the circumcision ceremony that we did not feel the traditional Ashkenazi girl's naming could offer. Yet rather than devise something out of whole cloth, or adapt one of the many recently created ceremonies for naming a girl child, we hoped to find somewhere in the vast corpus of Jewish liturgy a ceremony whose weight of history and tradition somehow felt right for us.
In our search we were especially influenced by Laura Geller's essay, "Brit Milah and Brit Banot," in Rabbi Orenstein's edited volume on Jewish life passages. Her penetrating analysis of the structure and symbolism of brit milah, followed by several suggestions for appropriate equivalent ceremonies and the timing of a girl's naming, shaped our thinking on the matter more than any other source we consulted. Through her essay we became aware of the Sephardic girl's naming ritual, Seder Zeved HaBat, which met our needs for a ceremony solidly grounded in Jewish history that also expressed the sense of joy and wonder we felt at being parents of a girl-child. In timing the Zeved HaBat for the occasion of Birkat HaLevanah, we felt we had achieved the perfect balance of traditional Jewish ritual with the almost universal human equation of women and the cycles of the moon. The fact that Birkat HaLevanah for the month of Elul fell on her thirty-first day of life contributed to the appropriateness of this timing, as it permitted us to be mindful of the traditional Jewish belief that children were not viable until they had lived thirty days.
We are thankful you could share our joy in this celebration.
Greg and Carolyn Priest-Dorman
Poughkeepsie, New York
May you live to see your world fulfilled,
may your destiny be for worlds still to come,
and may you trust in generations past and yet to be.
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