Brit milah, or in short “bris,” is the circumcision ceremony we perform on eight-day old babies. Circumcising the baby on the eighth day is so important that this ritual may be performed even on Shabbat and Yom Kippur, if necessary. Only if the baby’s life is in jeopardy, for example due to illness, may the time of the bris be changed. The bris, which started as a covenant between Abraham and God, ties the new-born eternally with God. It is customary to have the bris ceremony in front of family and friends and to have a festive meal.
Before the actual circumcision, the baby is given a pacifier or cotton pad dipped in a wine-filled Kiddush cup, in order to numb the ensuing pain. Additionally, a big part of the bris is reciting a prayer and naming the baby in front of family and friends for the first time. Since the naming of the baby is such an important part of the bris, a popular gift that guests like to bring is a Hebrew birth plate.
There are several types of Hebrew birth plates, such as wood, sterling silver, stained glass and more. If you wish to get a Hebrew birth plate, and you have a lot of money to invest, you can purchase a gold birth plate on which you can have different details you want engraved. If you are artistic and you want to add a more personal and sentimental value to your new nephew, brother or cousin’s birth plate, you can make one yourself! A lot of people, rather than buying a traditional sterling silver or painted wood Hebrew plate, embroider the baby’s name on a piece of velvet or silk and then frame it. In addition to the baby’s Hebrew name, there are a number of things that you can embroider on a birth plate, such as his English name, his Hebrew date of birth date, and holy passages. There are many passages from the Bible that are appropriate for the occasion, such “And I will establish My covenant between Me and thee,” which goes back to the original circumcision covenant God made with Abraham.
Another popular gift is a bris pillow. There are beautiful bris pillows on which you can embroider anything you want, usually the same things that apply to the Hebrew birth plate. A bris pillow sham can be made of anything, such as linen, silk and more, and their main advantage is that they can eventually be also framed, which will preserve them for many years. This will enable the pillow to one day become a family heirloom, which will surely be appreciated by the baby when he is old enough.