Simchat Banot

Found In: Welcoming & Raising Children, Covenant & Naming Rituals

Tags: welcoming, shehekheyanu, naming, Elijah, covenant

By Sally Friedman and David Gmach | Complete Ceremony

WELCOMING THE GUESTS

Sally:

We want to welcome all of you, our family and friends, to this simchat b'not—a ceremony at which we will enter our 2 daughters into the Jewish community. Our tradition teaches that all members of all generations entered into a unique relationship with God at Sinai. This relationship, known as the brit or covenant, joins God and the Jewish people in the task of perfecting the world. Today, our 2 daughters become partners in that Covenant. They pass over a threshold and we mark their passage from their mothers' womb, into the welcoming arms of their father and brother, and now into the arms of K'lal Yisrael.

We believe that the miracle of their births—and believe us, having identical twins is quite a miracle—is of great importance to the Jewish community, for Judaism's future rests on the firm foundation of both its men and women. Before today, our daughters were not fully recognized members of the community. In naming them today, they receive their membership into the Covenant, linking them to Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob, Rachel, and Leah.

WELCOMING THE BABIES

David and Sally:

 

B'rucha haba'ah b'shem Adonai
B'rucha at ba'ir, uv'ruchah at basadeh.
B'ruchah at b'voach, uv'ruchah at b'tzaytatch.

All together:

Welcome little ones!
Blessed may you be all your days, all your life;
Blessed may you be wherever you are,
In all of your comings and in all of your goings.

PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING

David and Sally:

Our God and God of our ancestors, we thank you for the precious gift of new life and for the blessing of parenthood which allows us to share in the mitzvah of creation. We have shared love and pain and joy in bringing our daughters into life, and have been privileged to participate in the marvel and beauty of creation with You, God, the Partner in the creation of every human being.

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha'olam, yotzer ha'adam.
Praised are You, Lord our god, Ruler of the universe, who has created humankind.

Vicki Friedman (a/k/a/ "Mamma Vicki"):

We pray that Hannah Yael and Maya Peri draw inspiration from the examples of their foremothers;
From Eve the hope to choose life and sustain it after Paradise was lost
From Noah's wife the nurturing qualities and patience to be a steward for earth's creatures;
From Sarah the faith to follow a dream into wilderness and to believe the impossible is possible;
From Rebecca the wisdom to weave new custom into the old;
From Leah endurance and perseverance in the face of loneliness;
From Rachel the compassion and love for her sister that spared Leah pain and anguish;
From Dina the ability to take risks to break out of confinement to seek friendship with other women;
From the midwives Shifrah and Puah the courage to defy death to rescue the next generation;
From Miriam the ability to be outspoken in her views even when they are unpopular;
From Deborah the self-esteem that enabled her to rally and lead resistance and to take pride in her achievements;
And from Ya'el the courage to do what she knows she must do.

COVENANT CEREMONY

All:

We come together to welcome these children into the Covenant of Abraham, our father, and Sarah, our mother. God said: "I will maintain My covenant between Me and you and your offspring to come as an everlasting Covenant throughout the ages, to be good to you and your offspring to come." In becoming welcomed members of the Jewish people, these girls become a link in the Covenant of the people of Israel.

David and Sally:

The tallit is an embracing symbol of the Covenant between God and the Jewish people, and we are reminded of the mitzvot by the tzitzit on its corners. Today, we and Ilan envelop our daughters into the folds of the tallit as a symbol of their entry into Covenant with God and K'lal Yisrael.

The naming of a person is also a way of entering them into the covenant of our forebearers. When Avram entered into the "brit" (covenant), he became known as Avraham; Sari his wife became Sarah. So the tradition of giving each new member of the brit a covenant-name arose.

We formally assign Hannah the title of a Hebrew name:

Dina:

May the one who blessed our ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah bless this gentle child. Eternal Creator, we ask Your blessings for David and Sally as they express their commitment to Judaism by bringing their daughter into the Covenant of our people. Sustain this child, and let her be known in the House of Israel as: Hannah Yael Gmach.

We formally assign Maya the title of a Hebrew name:

May the one who blessed our ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah bless this gentle child. Eternal Creator, we ask Your blessings for David and Sally as they express their commitment to Judaism by bringing their daughter into the Covenant of our people. Sustain this child, and let her be known in the House of Israel as: Maya Peri Gmach.

REMARKS: David, Sally, Grandpa Joe, Ilan

WE CONCLUDE TOGETHER:

Dear Hannah and Maya:
We are your parents, brother, grandparents, aunts and uncles, relatives, and friends.
We have come together to celebrate the life that God has given you.
We are in awe that the two—yes, two—of you are here to enrich our lives.
We welcome you to our family and community with great love and joy.
By being here today, we commit to giving each of you our love, affection, friendship, understanding, and warmth.
We stand ready to enrich your minds and brighten your spirits.
We will do our best to tell you apart—though we may not always succeed.
We will babysit whenever asked and be happy to change 2 diapers at once, feed 2 mouths, run in 2 directions, and, most importantly, hug 2 delicious girls.
Because you 2 are such gifts from God, we now say:

 

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech Ha-olam,
She-heh-cheyanu v'kee-y'manu v'higee-anu la-z'man he'zeh

We praise You, or Eternal god, Ruler of the Universe, for granting us the gift of life, for sustaining us in strength, and for enabling us to celebrate this wonderful occasion together. Amen.

THE MAYA AND HANNAH SHOW (sung to the theme song of the Patty Duke show)

Meet Maya, who's rolled most everywhere,
From Prospect Park to Union Square

But Hannah loves to lie about
The two of them can coo and shout
What a crazy pair!

But they're sisters
Identical sisters all the way
One pair of matching bookends
Different as night and day.

They suck their thumbs, one left, one right
A political split? We guess they might!
These lovely chicks are set to grow
Beside their brother in a row
What a lovely sight!

Yes, they're sisters
Identical sisters and you'll find
They laugh alike, they walk alike
At times they even talk alike.

You can lose your mind
When sisters are two of a kind.

Used with the permission of the authors