Contact Info

General enquiries:

For general enquiries, please contact the Northwood Synagogue office on:

Tel: 01923 820004
Fax: 01923 820020



21-23 Murray Road

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Mazal Tov! Welcome to the world little boy or girl! Northwood US has a variety of ways to welcome your newborn into the world.


Brit Milah (Circumcision)

The mitzvah of Brit Milah, the circumcision of every Jewish baby boy, is one of the cornerstones of our faith. The commandment was first given to Abraham in Genesis 17, where he was told, “every male among you shall be circumcised…and it shall be a sign of a covenant”. Essentially, the brit milah is an outward physical sign of the everlasting connection between God and the Jewish people. Of course, this begs the question of why God did not simply create man already circumcised. The answer encapsulates a lesson that might serve us all well for life – circumcision teaches us that just as a human being has the power to perfect the physical aspects of his body, so too is it within human ability to perfect the soul through spiritual correction.

The Ceremony

The Brit Milah is often held in the presence of a minyan but in cases where this is difficult it is not strictly necessary. The service itself can take place in a synagogue or in a private home.

When the day of the brit dawns, the ceremony should be scheduled to take place as early as possible, usually straight after morning services, to indicate the parents’ eagerness to perform the mitzvah. However, if holding the ceremony in the afternoon will accord it with greater honour – for example if the Rabbi or grandparents can’t make it until then – it can be postponed until later in the day, before sunset.

Once everything is prepared, the service begins with the baby’s mother passing the little one to the kvaterin (godmother). Often, the baby is carried along on top of a special satin, or embroidered white pillow. The kvaterin then passes the baby to her husband, the kvater (godfather), who carries him into the room where the brit is to take place.

Here, two chairs will have been set out in preparation. The first one is for the sandek, who holds the baby on his knees during the circumcision. This is considered to be the highest honour accorded at the ceremony. Consequently, the job is usually reserved the new grandfather or an important Rabbi.

The second chair is known as the kisei shel Eliyahu (Elijah’s chair). According to tradition, the prophet Elijah comes to every circumcision to testify to the commitment of the Jewish people to this great mitzvah.

After the mohel has made the bracha and performed the brit and the father has responded with the bracha appertaining to him, two more blessings are recited over a cup of wine and the baby is given his Hebrew name.

Finally, a seudat mitzvah is served. The usual custom at such festive meals is to serve meat, but given that roast chicken doesn’t go down too well as a breakfast dish, fish and other dairy delicacies can be served instead.

For the full service see pages 779 – 784 in the Singers Prayer Book or pages 208 – 215 in the Artscroll Siddur.
For a list of registered mohelim, please visit


It is United Synagogue custom for the father of the baby girl to get an aliyah leTorah (to be ‘called up’) in shul on the first Shabbat or first Yom Tov after the birth of his daughter, whichever comes first. He will then be able to formally give his daughter her Jewish name.

The mother also should take the first opportunity to go to shul and say the Prayer of Thanksgiving after Recovery from Childbirth, which can be found in the Singer’s Siddur pages 799 - 802.

The latest edition of the Authorised Daily Prayer Book, published in December 2006, now also contains a ‘Zeved Bat’ ceremony, the ‘Home Service on the Birth of a Daughter’.

It is extremely important to welcome a girl with as much enjoyment as a boy and a kiddush in honour of the new baby should be organised in the first few months of her life.