Image: A pregnant woman by the sea. Photo by pexels/pixabay.
When I wrote about Hasidah and Jewish infertility support recently, I realized I’d never written about Jewish pregnancy. There are a few Jewish customs which may seem odd to those outside our community.
A few things to know:
What to say: Do not say “mazal tov” or “congratulations” until the baby is safely born! Instead say, “B’sha’ah tovah” (b-shah-AH toe-VAH) to the parents until that time. It means, “In a good hour” which means, “May everything go well.” You can also say, “Wonderful! I’m happy for you.”
About gifts: Many Jewish families do not collect things for the baby in the home of the parents-to-be. While some will tell you this is about “tempting the evil eye” or some such, it has practical implications as well, since there are no guarantees about pregnancy. Ask what the family is doing about gifts, and follow their lead.
About the name: It is an old Jewish tradition to keep the name of an infant private until the bris or naming (usually at eight days.) If they seem coy about telling you the names they’ve picked out, it’s because they are observing that custom.
Good books about Judaism and new babies:
Anita Diamant, The New Jewish Baby Book also How to Raise a Jewish Child
Rabbi Paul Kipnes and Michelle November MSSW, Jewish Spiritual Parenting