Baby CeremoniesGuide for Guests
Welcome ceremonies for Jewish babies can vary a lot from community to community and from family to family, so it’s hard to say exactly what a guest should expect. A bris or brit bat might take place in a synagogue, or another public space like a community center, or it can be held at the new baby’s home.
When a bris is at a synagogue, it often immediately follows morning prayer services. These services last about 30 minutes on a weekday, and significantly longer on Shabbat (again, this varies from synagogue to synagogue). In some communities it might be appropriate for guests who are unfamiliar with Jewish prayer to arrive near the end of services, just in time for the bris ceremony itself. This is something guests can ask their hosts to clarify in advance.
If a bris or brit bat is not planned as part of a prayer service, it is appropriate to arrive on time. It is likely that the ceremony will take place first, followed by a festive meal.
In most cases it’s nice to bring a gift. This can be a standard baby present such as clothes, toys, books, or money. Gifts can be Jewishly-themed or not. Some families might appreciate a donation to charity in honor of their baby. There is also a tradition of planting a tree in Israel in honor of a birth.
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