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So you’re expecting a child? B’shaah Tovah!*

Whether you are thinking about having a baby or adopting a child, are already expecting, or just welcomed a new child, we are here for you every step of the way. Please be in touch with Rabbi Michael Knopf at any point in your journey. 

We also know that the journey to parenthood is different for everyone. Some struggle with infertility, unplanned pregnancy, miscarriage, stillbirth, and more. Please know that we are here for you. If you need any pastoral or communal support, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our clergy.

We periodically offer a program called La-mazal Tov!  for expecting parents to connect and learn together. Please be in touch with Rabbi Knopf if you are interested in participating.

When your baby is born

Mazal tov! Our clergy would love to see you and meet your new addition, whether in the hospital or once you’re back at home, as soon as you are comfortable having visitors.  Please contact Rabbi Michael Knopf to schedule a visit.

Baby Girls

Different communities formally welcome girls into the Jewish people in a variety of ways.  At Temple Beth-El, we typically conduct a ceremony known as a b’rit bat, a ritual that welcomes the baby girl into the Jewish covenant. Some people call this ceremony a simhat bat (celebrating a daughter) or, more simply, a baby naming. This ceremony can take place at any point following the baby’s birth, but we encourage families to hold their b’rit bat within the first month.

We encourage families to celebrate their b’rit bat on Shabbat morning during our Torah service, and to enhance our congregation’s kiddush lunch for the celebratory meal that traditionally follows the ceremony.  However, some families prefer holding a private baby naming ceremony and celebration for family and friends, whether in their own (or a family member’s) home, or in our chapel, sanctuary, or social hall. In any case, please contact a clergy member to make these arrangements.

Baby Boys 

The birth of a boy is traditionally celebrated with a b’rit milah (sometimes called a bris), or ritual circumcision. The b’rit milah is held on the 8th day following birth (except in unusual situations), and serves to formally welcome the baby boy into the Jewish people.

A b’rit milah is performed by a specially trained individual called a mohel or mohelet (sometimes pronounced “moyel”). Please note that while many doctors are qualified to perform medical circumcisions, most doctors do not have the specialized training necessary to perform a b’rit milah. It is important to find a mohel or mohelet for this ceremony who has the proper credentials. Unfortunately, there are currently no professional mohalim or mohalot in Richmond, but there are several mohalim in our region with whom we are happy to connect you (many of whom are also physicians). Please contact Rabbi Knopf for recommendations. 

The most important part of scheduling your b’rit milah is securing your mohel or mohelet. Once the baby is born, you will schedule a date and time for the b’rit milah with your mohel or mohelet. Our clergy would be honored to participate in the ceremony as well. Please be in touch with a clergy member to discuss their role/s in the ceremony.

Many have their son’s b’rit milah and the celebratory meal that traditionally follows in their own (or a family member’s) home, though some choose to use our chapel, sanctuary, or social hall. Contact Norma Fiedler at if you’d like to use a space at the synagogue. 

Are you waiting to find out the assigned sex of your baby? 

If you’re planning for a surprise in the delivery room, just give us a heads-up so we know your celebration is on the horizon. We have done many such celebrations and can do so on very little notice!

Spiritual Preparation for Parenthood

Some new parents choose to immerse in the Mikveh to mark their passage into parenthood. For new fathers, this immersion can happen at any time. For new mothers, it should happen after postpartum bleeding has finished. Please contact Rabbi Knopf and/or Cantor Rosenblatt with any questions about these practices. To schedule time in our Mikveh, please contact Norma Fiedler.

For New Parents 

Having children is a great blessing, but the lived experience of being a parent doesn’t always feel that way! Navigating your new family configuration, finding the right balance for work and family responsibilities, working through a changing relationship with a spouse or partner, struggling with postpartum depression, and other challenges can affect both new mothers and fathers. If you need someone to talk to, please contact a clergy member to set up a confidential appointment.

We are also proud to offer some wonderful programs for tots and their grown-ups: Our lively, joyful, and musical Tot Shabbat (monthly on Shabbat mornings), and our Chaverim Katanim Tot Family Playgroup (some Sunday mornings), featuring music, stories, crafts and movement, are wonderful ways for young children and their grown-ups to connect with each other and Judaism. Please be in touch with our Director of Youth Learning, Ramona Brand, for more information.

We also love having children of all ages and stages (and their grown-ups!) join us for our weekly Shabbat services.  We hope you’ll take this as a personal invitation to join us for services any (or every!) week.

Let our Temple Beth-El community help and support your growing family! Contact, whether before or after your child is welcomed into your family. We’ll be in touch to discuss how we can be there for you!

 *Literally,  “in good time,"  the traditional response when someone is expecting a child, rather than mazal tov, which typically means “congratulations.”   B’shaah tovah is preferred because it implies the anticipation of future joy, whereas mazal tov celebrates something that has already happened.

Sat, April 20 2024 12 Nisan 5784