The arrival of a baby brings joy to the whole community. Please notify the office of the happy event so we can wish you Mazal Tov in our newsletters.

We encourage members to have a Baby Blessing in the Synagogue. These are very special to us and we customise the order of service, involving the family fully in its content. The Blessing would normally take place on a Shabbat morning towards the end of the Torah service. Please contact the Synagogue office to plan the event.

Why not invite the whole community to celebrate and sponsor a Kiddush? The office will provide you with details.

If you have a baby boy, the Rabbi will be pleased to recommend a Mohel to perform a Brit Milah. If you would like the ceremony to take place in the Synagogue, we will do all we can to accommodate you.

 

Brit Milah

All Jewish baby boys are circumcised by a trained person with a medical background, known as a mohel.

The ceremony takes place on the 8th day after the baby’s birth, even if that is a Shabbat or a religious festival. But the mohel will visit in advance to make sure the baby is well – new babies often have jaundice or other minor problems.

If the mohel is at all concerned for the baby’s health, he will delay the circumcision until he is satisfied that the baby is well enough. In that case, it will not be held on a Shabbat or festival. That only happens if it is actually the “eighth day” since the birth.

The ceremony is known as “brit milah” . It is a joyous one and family and friends are invited to attend. It usually takes place in the home of the parents or grandparents, but we are always happy to make arrangements for it to take place here in the synagogue. It is traditional to offer the guests drinks and snacks after the ceremony.

The baby is carried in on a pillow. He may cry for a minute or two, having been touched by a cold instrument in a sensitive place. But new babies cry anyway.

As soon as the mohel has completed his task, which takes only a minute or so, the baby is held up for all to see that he is well. He is given his English and Hebrew names, and then passed straight back to his mother to be fed and then have a doze. The mohel will visit the baby again within a couple of days to change the tiny little dressing and make sure the baby is well and continuing to thrive.

We have a list of mohelim we can recommend and are delighted that the Masorti Beth Din (religious court) is now also training female mohelim.

The mohel will require payment for visiting the baby in advance, for his or her services on the day and for visiting the baby again afterwards, but that is a private arrangement between you and the mohel.

First point of contact, Rabbi Jeremy Gordon rabbi@newlondon.org.uk

 

Pidyen Ha’ben 

In Jewish tradition there is a charming ceremony known as Pidyen Ha’Ben (redemption of the first born) wherein the father of a first born Israelite redeems his newborn son from a Cohen when the child is thirty days old, either in the home of the parents or grandparents, or here in the synagogue.

The proud parents bring their son in on a pillow and pass him to a Cohen (a man who is a descendant of the priestly tribe). The father symbolically purchases his son from the priest for the princely sum of five shekels. In that way the baby doesn’t need to serve as a priest, as the first born was obliged to do in many ancient societies.

Here’s the opportunity for profit for the Cohen. But the custom is that the Cohen returns the money to the father, or he can donate it to charity.

With an average of 25 new babies born into our New London family each year, you would think that Pidyen Ha’Ben is a common occurrence.

However, the parameters are such that is actually quite rare. Some years we have none at all – so it is a special blessing for your son if we are able to hold the ceremony.

Pidyen Ha’Ben only takes place if the baby boy is not the son of a Cohen, and is the first born child of the mother, born naturally who has not been previously pregnant.

If you do not have a friend or family member who is a Cohen, we can usually invite someone suitable to attend and assist you. And we can lend you the ceremonial coins.

For the ceremony to be valid, it is necessary to part with some money as well as the token ceremonial coins, and this is usually done in the form of a donation to the synagogue for the loan of the coins and assistance with the arrangements. The Cohen will not charge for his time or services.

First point of contact, Rabbi Jeremy Gordon.