Question: If a baby boy becomes Jewish as his bris, when does a baby girl become Jewish?
I read that a baby boy becomes Jewish at his bris; until then he has no name, and hence no identity to be Jewish. But since there is officially no Bris or naming ceremony for girls, when do baby girls become Jewish?
Answer: Dear Kerry,
A Jewish boy is Jewish at birth to a Jewish mother. At his bris (ritual circumcision ceremony), during which he receives his Jewish name, he enters into the covenant of Abraham. But he is Jewish at birth. He can also be Jewish by conversion, and he traditionally is offered the opportunity to confirm his choice to be a Jew at the age of Bar Mitzvah.
Likewise, a Jewish girl is also Jewish at birth to a Jewish mother, or when she is converted.
Jewish daughters traditionally receive their Jewish names when a parent (father only in more orthodox congregrations) has the honor of being called to the Torah. Immediately following the aliyah, one of the officiants or the Torah Reader recites a MiSheBerakh, a blessing for the mother and child, similar to that recited at the brit milah, during which the Jewish girl receives her Hebrew name.
Since the boy's brit milah is often held in a home, today many families are supplementing the synagogue ceremony and having baby naming ceremonies at home. At this ceremony, the families often share the baby's names and the reasons it was chosen.