Since the moment he was born, my son’s life has been one milestone after another: graduating from the isolette to a crib in the NICU, getting his feeding tube taken out, coming home. Last weekend, we celebrated the biggest milestone of Judah’s life thus far: the first day of the rest of his Jewish life.
Photo by Akira Suwa; used with permission.
The Jewish tradition of brit milah dates back thousands of years. Six years ago, I converted to Judaism, deeply attracted to its teachings, values and principles. It was my intent to live a Jewish life and, as a Jewish mother, to bear witness to my son’s bris was an incredibly moving experience.
From the private moments as I nursed him before the ceremony to his grand debut to a crowd of over 50 friends, family and loved ones, Judah’s bris was a magical moment right up there with his birth and my wedding. It’s a moment I’ll never forget for as long as I live. As I walked into the room holding my son in my arms, I was overwhelmed by all of the love for this tiny little boy, a child we’ve been waiting for many years after our long struggle with infertility.
I passed Judah from my arms to those of his kvatterin (godmothers) Aunt Rachel to our friend Nicole and her husband Andy, the kvatter (godfather) and then finally to the loving arms of his sandek, an honored role given to his paternal grandfather (affectionately known as Pop-Pop). All the while, my Papa shot hundreds of pictures, capturing every special moment on film.
I read a prayer written by Naomi Levy that began, “Welcome, welcome to this breathtaking world. We have been waiting for you. Waiting to see your beautiful face, to hear the sound of your cry, to kiss you, hold you, rock you. You are the fruit of our love, of our hearts, of our souls.” My husband and I recited prayers and blessings that have been recited across generations and continents. The mohel was swift and warm, explaining each part of the ceremony as he went along.
Judah was given his Hebrew name: Yosef ben Arieh ha-Levi v’Miriam. He was named in honor of Larry’s grandfather, Joseph, of blessed memory.
Afterward, Judah finally got to meet his cousins Willow and Laela, and was passed around so many family and friends who’ve been waiting to meet him just as long as Larry and I have. We all noshed while he napped, Larry and I taking turns holding him as we ate delicious plates of bagels and smoked fish.
I feel so honored to have been present for such a special, holy moment in my son’s life and I’m humbled to be called his mother.