Brit Milah, or circumcision, is performed on a Jewish male eight days after he is born. (as long as the child has been declared healthy)
This ceremony, by which a boy enters the Covenant of Israel, goes back to Abraham, who, through circumcision, made a covenant with G-d, where he vowed to teach his descendents to serve G-d with devotion. In return, G-d promised to safeguard the Jewish people.
Today, by performing the act of circumcision, Jews perpetuate the covenant and make their children a part of that eternal promise. The procedure is performed by a mohel, who has mastered the Jewish laws regarding circumcision and received extensive training. At a Brit, the mohel removes the baby's foreskin and draws some blood, after which the baby is given his Jewish name.
Mohelim in Sydney:
- Rabbi Niasoff - 0414 262 006
- Dr Lewin - 0418 218 716
- Dr Robinson - 9387 8700
The naming of a Jewish child is considered a most profound spiritual moment, for at the beginning of life we give a name and at the end of life a "good name" is all we take with us. In Hebrew a name reveals essential characteristics. It is important to choose a name that will have a positive effect, since every time it is used the person is reminded of its meaning. When naming a Jewish baby it is a statement of what we hope the child will become and recognition of the child's heritage. Many people name their child after relatives or may choose a name based on the Jewish holiday coinciding with the birth. A girl's name is officially given in synagogue shortly after the birth when the father is called up to the Torah.
For more information about naming customs or Hebrew names, go to http://judaism.about.com/library/3_lifecycles/names/bl_names.htm
Jews often wait until a boy's third birthday before giving him his first haircut. This is called "Upsherin" - a Yiddish word that means "cutting off."
Why three years? This is related to the mitzvah of Orlah. The Torah says if you plant a tree, all fruits which grow during the first three years are "orlah" - off-limits. Just as Orlah fruit is untouched so too we leave a child's hair uncut for the first three years.
A tree needs the four basic elements in order to survive - soil, water, air, and fire (sun), children require the same basic elements as trees and need to be firmly rooted. For the haircut itself, it is customary for friends and family to take a snip. The first cut is done at the front of the head, where the boy will later place his Tefillin upon becoming Barmitzvah. After snipping, people give the boy a blessing for success.