Sample Secular Jewish Baby Naming Ceremony

Naming Ceremony for Molly
Malka Shifra bat Rashi ve-Rivka Michaela
מלכּה שפֿרה בת רשי ובת רפֿקה מחלה
April 12, 2015 / 23 Nissan, 5775

Song: You’ve Got a Friend by Carole King

When you’re down and troubled,
And you need some love and care,
And nothing, nothing is going right
Close your eyes and think of me,
And soon I will be there
To brighten up even your darkest night.

You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I’ll come running to see you again
Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you have to do is call
And I’ll be there
You’ve got a friend

If the sky above you grows dark and full of clouds
And that old north wind begins to blow
Keep your head together and call my name out loud
Soon you’ll hear me knocking at your door

You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I’ll come running, running, yeah, yeah, to see you again
Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you have to do is call
And I’ll be there
And I’ll be there, yes I will.

Now, ain’t it good to know that you’ve got a friend
When people can be so cold?
They’ll hurt you, yes, and desert you
And take your soul if you let them,
Oh, but don’t you let them

You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I’ll come running, running, yeah, yeah, yeah, to see you again.
Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you have to do is call
And I’ll be there, yes I will.
You’ve got a friend

Hershl: What a special day this is in so many ways. Let us count the ways. It is three weeks into Nature’s Spring, the time of hope which every culture celebrates in diverse but similar ways. It is osru khag — the day after the Passover festival and the eighth day of the Omer, the 50-day interval between the beginning of the barley harvest and of the wheat harvest in ancient Israel. And it is a week into the 50-day Pentecost in Christian tradition.

It is fitting that we name this child in the spirit of all these Spring Festivals. Humanity’s hopes and aspirations in this season find personal reflection in the spirits of her parents, her families and friends.

It is fitting, too, that we welcome the newest member of our Secular Jewish Community as her mother and father declare her name.

It is fitting, because the ancient tradition of our people welcomed newborn children by celebrating a bris or brit. Bris means a covenant, a commitment.

In the old tradition, that celebration was limited to boy children. Our community, as part of our commitment to the equality of all people, extends that tradition to all children, girls as well as boys.

The welcome begins with the naming of this child. Our names are the beginning of our identities, the beginning of our being persons. Knowing who we are, as individuals, can help us relate to our families. Secure in our families, we can begin to understand that we are part of our own, specific peoples. And when we know ourselves in our families and in our heritage, then we can truly comprehend ourselves as part of humanity and our place in the ecology of our fragile Earth.

So this child whom we welcome today is many times welcome.

We welcome her to life…we welcome her to herself…to her family: to her mom, Rebekka Mia, to her dad, Ross Michael, and to her zeydes Grandpa Paul and Pops Herb, her bubes Mimi Joy and Grandma Leslie.

And she is welcomed by the Sholem Community, as a part and as a representative of the Jewish people. We also welcome her to all of humanity and to our Earth…and to her part in making our planet and its society a better, more beautiful place for all children.

That is our covenant with this child, the bris we have with her. It is the same commitment that inspired our own bubes and zeydes: the determination to do all we can to achieve a besere un shenere velt —a better and more beautiful world.

Rebekka and Ross, you may now name this child as she will be called in the tradition of her people and as she will be known in the larger world of our society. As you call her names, will the grandparents please light the candles as symbols of the light you will provide for her in years to come with your love and your understanding.


Rebekka: We welcome you into this world with open arms and loving hearts.

We dedicate our spirit, patience, and curiosity to sculpting the person you are always in the process of becoming.

We pledge our lives to your life, our gifts to your gifts, our sorrows to your sorrows; they are now and forever inextricably intertwined.

On this day we name you Molly Rosalie Helford, after your cousin Molly Picon, your great, great, aunts Molly Helford and Molly Lepavski, and your great grandmother Ida Rosalie Kahanov. On this day we also name you Malka Shifra bat Rashi ve-bat Rivka Michaela, after your great grandmother Miriam Weinstein and your great aunt Shifra Silberman.

Koved zeyer likhtikn ondenk – all honor to their bright memory.
Zichronan livracha – may their memories be for a blessing.

May you make this name after your own deeds and desires, inspired by all the greatness, kindness, and wonder that has come before you.

Hershl: My dear ur-eynikl — my great-grandchild — your parents have done me the great honor of bestowing the title of elter-zeyde — great-grandfather — on me. The song of welcome you will now hear is one you will hear at all the peysakh sidorim — Passover seders — as you grow older. But, tayere Malke, it won’t be only about you, but about the other Dear Queen at the table. The tradition is that the hostess of the seyder is a queen.

Song: Tayere Malke

Tayere malke,
Gezunt zolstu zayn:
Gis on dem bekher,
Dem bekher mit vayn.
Bim bam ba bim bam…

Fun dem dozikn bekher
Vos glantst azoy sheyn
Hot getrunken mayn zeyde,
Mayn zeyde aleyn…Bim bam…

To friends and to friendship,
Much better than wealth:
Fill up the goblets –
We’ll drink to your health! Bim Bam…

This very same goblet
That glows so and shines
Belonged to my zeyde,
That zeyde of mine.

Hershl: Ross and Rebekka, now you may speak your words of welcome to Molly, your hopes and dreams for her.
Ross: We welcome you into our family with the words of our wedding contract – our ksuve/ketubah – which we wrote with the intention that they would always apply to any member of our family who spoke them, and with the promise that they would bind us together by reminding us of what matters most.

Rebekka: These are the things that are important:

Ross: We are friends
We are a family
We help each other grow

Rebekka: We listen to each other
We love each other

Ross and Rebekka: We are individuals
Who live together
In peace

Rebekka: We greet you with the wisdom of Kahlil Gibran, whose seminal work The Prophet captured so perfectly our responsibility to you as your parents.

On Children:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Ross: I would like to share with you a quote from my favorite writer, Kurt Vonnegut, from his novel God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater. When I first read it in high school, I found it so profound and moving, I imagined what it might be like to speak those words one day to my own baby. And, perhaps ironic at a secular naming ceremony, it has an invocation to the supernatural—as well as a single strategically-placed swear word. It goes like this:

Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth.
It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter.
It’s round and wet and crowded.
At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here.
There’s only one rule that I know of, babies —
“God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”

Hershl: Before we share the khale and wine, the fruits of human ingenuity and rejoicing, let the grandparents present three symbolic gifts to the celebrant.

Grandparents: Molly, we welcome you with three traditional gifts of welcome in many cultures:

  • The gift of the khale – the braided bread of our people – so that you may never know hunger.
  • The gift of salt – the life blood of humanity – so that you may forever be free from want.
  • And the gift of roses – because as you must have sustenance, so, too, must you have beauty.

As your grandparents, we wish all this for you and more, on the day of your naming.
Hershl: To celebrate the naming of Molly, we will now share the khale, the egg bread that is a symbol of celebration and the bounty of Earth, and the wine, symbol of celebration by all humans who discovered the organic chemistry of grapes. For those who may not or who do not wish to drink the wine, there is grape juice — unfermented.

Gebentsht zoln zayn dee hent mit mazolyes
vos flantsn un hodeven un shnaydn un klaybn
un miln un knetn un bakn dos broyt.
gebentsht zoln zayn dee hent mit mazolyes
vos flantsn un hodoven, shnaydn un tretn un geesn dem vayn.
gebentsht zoln zayn dee mentshlekhe hent mit mazolyes.

We bless this bread and wine of human celebration.
We bless the human generations that learned the arts of planting and cultivating, reaping and threshing, milling and kneading and baking bread.
We bless the minds and hands that created grape-growing and winemaking. We bless the roughened hands that tended the vines and picked the grapes of this wine. We grasp those hands in symbolic solidarity: ¡Hasta la victoria siempre!
We bless this bread and wine and look forward to the day when all humanity will share in the bounties of an unpolluted earth, freed from the bonds of hatred and war—as we rededicate our lives to pursuit of the dream that we share with our people’s Prophets: —a besere, shenere velt—a better, more beautiful world.

Song: Teach your Children by Graham Nash

You who are on the road
Must have a code that you can live by
And so become yourself
Because the past is just a good-bye.
Teach your children well,
Their father’s hell did slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picks, the one you’ll know by.
Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you will cry,
So just look at them and sigh
And know they love you.
And you, of tender years,
Can’t know the fears that your elders grew by,
And so please help them with your youth,
They seek the truth before they can die.
Teach your parents well,
Their children’s hell will slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picks, the one you’ll know by.
Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you will cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.

All: Borukh habo! Welcome! Mazeltov!




Celebrated at Los Angeles, California
April 12, 2015

by Hershl Hartman, Vegvayzer/Madrikh/Leader
Rebekka Helford, Vegvayzer/Madrikha/Leader
and Ross Helford, Vegvayzer/Madrikh/Leader


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