Every single culture celebrates the arrival of a new soul in this world. For the parents, the indescribable joy of welcoming a new family member leads to some form of celebration, especially in a religious context. For the Jewish community, the addition of a new member calls for a two-fold celebration: a circumcision ceremony for the baby boy and a Simchat Bat, or a naming ceremony, for the baby girl.

Has your family recently been blessed with a baby girl? That’s splendid news, and we couldn’t be happier for you! It’s time for your baby girl to enjoy her first Jewish ceremony, the Simchat Bat, during which she will be endowed not only with a name but with her identity as a Jewish person.

Rabbi Avraham Rappaport, a second-generation expert mohel currently active in the MD/DC/VA area, is here to explain to us the significance of names in the Jewish culture, the biblical sources that describe the name’s central role in any Jewish person’s identity, and a few rules to help parents choose the most meaningful names for their baby girls!

Simchat Bat and the Significance of Jewish Names

Seldom do we think about the origins of our names, let alone their significance. For many of us, names are meaningless collections of letters. However, this belief couldn’t be farther away from the truth. Especially in the Hebrew language, a holy language, each letter has a meaning and numerical value; when combined in the name-creation process, letters uncover a whole new meaning!    

Simchat Bat and Biblical Sources

The substance of the naming process is backed by numerous biblical sources. The first one, Genesis 2:19, describes how Adam, in a thoughtful process, named all of the creatures found in the Garden of Eden: 

“Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.” (Genesis 2:19

Subsequently, the four wives of Jacob, who would give birth to the founders of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, adorned their children with names that accurately described the circumstances of their births. For example, Simeon’s name speaks plainly about her mother’s misery, while Simeon’s name is a testament to God’s favor towards his mother:

“Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, ‘It is because the Lord has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.'” (Genesis 29:32)

“She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, ‘Because the Lord heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too.’ So she named him Simeon.” (Genesis 29:33)

Simchat Bat and Naming Rules

As the biblical text tells us, since it encapsulates the baby’s identity and birth circumstances, the name cannot be chosen at random. On the contrary, specific rules govern the name choosing process during the Simchat Bat ceremony. Rabbi Rappaport has put together a comprehensive list of rules to guide parents towards the most meaningful names for their baby girls:

  • A mother and daughter should not have the same Hebrew name but they can draw their names from the same people with different variants of the name.
  • Siblings should avoid bearing the same name.
  • A baby girl can have anywhere between one and three Jewish names, but more than three names are not recommended.
  • There’s no need for correspondence between the English and Hebrew/Jewish names. The English name can always be changed, whereas the Hebrew/Jewish name, once announced at the Simchat Bat, becomes permanent and generally should not be changed.
  • Baby girls are often or usually named after a loved one, frequently after a deceased parent, grandparent, or great-grandparent. By choosing the same name as a more distant relative, parents both ensure the idea of continuity with the family line and establish a personal relationship with the former name bearer. Parents try, through the name, to inculcate in the child some of the character traits that the loved one had, such as honesty, perseverance, or a loving personality.
  • Choosing a name is oftentimes the most moving part of a Simchat Bat ceremony because the name is accompanied by a whole life story. Rabbi Rappaport has conducted Simchat Bat ceremonies where baby girls received their names from relatives with inspiring lives of even Holocaust survivors. Such moments would bring tears to everyone, regardless of religion.   

Examples of Baby Girl Meaningful Names

Are you at a loss on which name you should pick for your baby girl? Here we have several examples of beautiful, meaningful names for you to choose from:

  • Abby: Avigayil (father’s joy), Aviva (spring) 
  • Alison, Allison, Allysa, Allisa: Elisha (Alisha – God is salvation), Elianna (my God has answered) 
  • Ann, Anne, Anna: Chana (grace) 
  • Emma: Emma, Emunah (faith) 
  • Emily: Amalia (work of the Lord) 
  • Julie, Julia, Jillian: Yehudit (praised), Yisraela (Israel), Ya’el (mountain goat) 
  • Natalie: Netanya (G-d has given) 
  • Samantha, Samara: Sarah (princess), Smadar (berry), Shemuela

Choosing Rabbi Rappaport for a Perfect Simchat Bat Experience

Rabbi Rappaport is more than ready to organize the perfect Simchat Bat ceremony for your newborn daughter! His profound understanding of Hebrew names and their meanings makes Rabbi Rappaport the perfect candidate for your baby girl’s perfect Simchat Bat experience. To add another reason why there’s no more qualified mohel in the MD/DC/VA area, Rabbi Rappaport does not take personal fees for the ceremony! Instead, he will ask the parents to make a charitable donation to a charity of his choice; this way, the Jewish parents perform a mitzvah and receive a tax deduction for the donation. So don’t hesitate to contact Rabbi Rappaport and allow him to help your newborn baby girl enjoy her first Jewish ceremony!

Let Rabbi Rappaport do the job if you plan to organize a ritual Simchat Bat for yourself or your child. Contact him anytime on his cell at: 443-790-6541. You can also send him an email at rabbi@mdmohel.com or visit his website. He will be happy to support you in making sure you have a perfect experience!