Eight days after a boy is born, Jews circumcise him, at which time they give him his name. But what happens for little girls?
Newborn females receive their names during a ceremony linked to the public reading of the Torah on either Monday, Thursday or Shabbat. During the reading, or kri’ah, in Orthodox shuls the father is called to the Torah for an aliyah and a special “Mi Sheberach” blessing is said, which includes the giving of the baby’s name. In other shuls, both parents often come up for the honor. The prayer also requests health for the mother and that the daughter grows to be a great Jewish woman, wise and understanding.
While the baby naming ceremony does not require a festive meal as does the brit milah ceremony, many families host a post-service Kiddush to share the joy with their extended family and friends.
The differences in ceremony does not subjugate Jewish women. We know women hold a special place in Judaism and they are recognized for their role throughout Torah. Women are praised for keeping their faith in Egypt and bearing children despite Pharaoh’s decree to murder all Jewish male babies, for example. Also, women are noted for not participating in the sin of the golden calf in the desert. And, perhaps most importantly, in Deuteronomy 7:3-4, God decreed that Jewish identity is passed through the mother.