My friends Shani and Ilan wanted to celebrate the birth of their second daughter, their fourth child. This ceremony was particularly pertinent because it took place on the baby’s 31 day of life, 31 days after Ilan’s father had passed away. Yes, the beautiful blessing was born the same hour that Ilan’s father left this world.
My husband and I came early, as I had a work meeting and was not able to stay for long. When we arrived we were stunned by the beautiful sight of lime covered tables with the cutest blow up animals as centerpieces. This was a cheerful sight, but food was not on display yet, and there was no music. It was clear to us the food and festive spirit was not going to be the focus of the occasion.
This hunch was confirmed when, as the hall filled up with visitors, Ilan invited the guests to come to the center of the room and form a circle. We did so, and Ilan explained that he had asked his Rabbi whether he could have a celebration party for his baby daughter in the traditional year of mourning. The Rabbi suggested that he could, but it should be immediately after the initial 30 days of mourning.
Ilan then explained that the baby will be brought through the circle of visitors to the lap of her grandmother, Ilan’s mother, by Ilan and Shani. The baby was passed by Shani’s mother on a pink pillow to Shani, and the women visitors were encouraged to put jewelry on the pillow as a symbol of the righteous women in the desert who volunteered their jewelry to build the holy sanctuary. (Don’t worry, the jewelry was returned!) Holding candles Shani and Ilan carried their baby girl to her paternal grandmother, who placed the pillow with the content baby on her lap. Shani and Ilan sprinkled salt around the baby to represent the preciousness and eternity.
Unfortunately at that point I had to run, I heard that Ilan spoke beautifully, that there was the singing of lovely Jewish melodies and the food was great. Although I was there for only a short time, the message that I got from Shani and Ilan’s Simchat Bat, was that the food and lighthearted spirits was secondary to the meaning and content of the occasion.
Mazal Tov Shani and Ilan on the birth of your precious baby girl, may you have much nachas from her, and may she and you be blessed with all things good and happy!
Were you at an especially meaningful Simchat Bat ceremony? I’d love to hear about it!