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Zeved Habat


Since the medieval period, Sephardic Jews have held ceremonies in honor of the birth of baby daughters. At Shearith Israel, the ceremony for naming a baby girl is known as Zeved Habat—the gift of a daughter.


For many years, the Zeved Habat has been observed as a simple baby naming. The baby’s father is called to the Torah on a Shabbat morning following the baby’s birth. At the conclusion of the Aliyah, the Hazzan recites a special blessing, beginning with verses from the Song of Songs, and then announces the baby’s Hebrew name chosen by the parents. It is customary for the family to sponsor a kiddush after services in honor of the new baby, and to share their happiness with the community.


In recent years, the Zeved Habat has been observed in more elaborate ways, depending on the wishes of the family. These ceremonies have taken place at home or in the synagogue, and have involved the recitation of Psalms and blessings, short talks by the parents, and words of congratulations by the Rabbi.


Parents of baby daughters should feel free to consult with the Rabbi to discuss the ceremony that would be most meaningful and joyous to them.


Synagogue tradition associates this Hanukkah lamp with the First Mill Street Synagogue of 1730.

First Mill Street Synagogue

The little synagogue on Mill Street was the first structure designed and built to be a synagogue in continental North America.