A Covenant for My Son

As he has been brought into the covenant, so may he enter into Torah, huppah, and ma’asim tovim.

I’ve been remiss in my blogging lately as I spent some extra time bonding with Little Man, taking him on his first important outings (i.e. the bookstore, the New England Aquarium, the jewelry store…) and throwing him a bris party.

What’s a bris? The covenant, or bris, is the oldest continuous Jewish rite.  The brit milah is scheduled eight days after birth (as that is when Abraham circumcised Isaac). And, yes, I said circumcised. So the eighth day of life was not so much fun for Little Man-- though, believe me, it was much harder on Mommy. We had a mohel perform the brit milah with only immediate family present at our home so that all of us could really enjoy welcoming Carston into our wonderful community of friends and family a few weeks later.

At his bris party, which essentially was a baby-naming celebration since the actual circumcision had been completed, we highlighted our hopes for Carston Cook Levey Friedman.  His Hebrew name is Shlomo (or Solomon) Chaim. "Shlomo/Solomon" honors John's Uncle Stuart, who passed away in childhood; the name also means peace, and is more commonly associated with wisdom, both things we wish for him and for the world. "Chaim," which means life, connects him to all his Jewish ancestors and to an artistic tradition (think "Fiddler on the Roof" and Chaim Potok).

I was particularly moved when our rabbi discussed the meaning of leaving a chair out for Elijah, who is said to visit every bris in the hopes that this child could be the Messiah. More practically though Elijah's chair symbolizes everyone's great hopes for every child-- who knows, the cure for cancer could lie within our Little Man! My father carried Carston into the room and sat in Elijah's chair.  You can see him in this picture, which also shows me lighting candles.

I like to say that Carston is our child of light since, like most children, he is obsessed with any kind of light (whether electric or sunlight) and naturally turns toward it. As I lit the candles (which John and I bought nearly two years ago during a trip to Israel, having NO idea we would ever use them for this purpose) John's father read the below blessing for a newborn child:

There is a new light in our hearts and in our home.

These candles celebrate the birth of our child.

Out of the creative darkness of the womb he has come.

These candles celebrate his emergence into light.

Blessed is the woman who bears a child, for she knows how love covers pain.

Blessed is the man who fathers a child, for he makes a bridge between earth and heaven.

Child of light, you know not yet the love and joy overflowing from our hearts. 

Believe me, as these pictures capture, love and joy overflow from our hearts whenever we look at him.

As part of the covenant we committed our son to a life of learning, love, and good deeds. I love that these are three of the main pillars of my own life already.

The first part of this statement--learning/Torah-- really resonates with us, as we are book people. Nearly every room in our home is filled with books and our lives are dedicated to knowledge and learning.  Of course, we hope the same for Carston.  To honor this I made up a wee bookmark (for a wee Little Man) as our party favor.

I also ordered a book cake, with a rabbit on it of course (the Friedmans are OBSESSED with rabbits because John had pet rabbits as a child).

This is my new favorite picture, which captures two of my greatest loves-- my son and books.

In addition to learning we hope our son finds love, with whomever he desires, and that that love is recognized by all. Finally, we hope that he serves others and lives a righteous life, committed to justice.  John and I read the following Parents' Prayer to capture these three elements.

We dedicate our child to Torah,

To a never-ending fascination with study and learning

With a book, he will never be alone.

We dedicate our child to huppah,

To never-ending growth as a human being capable of giving and receiving love.

With a loving mate, he will never be alone.

We dedicate our child to maasim tovim,

To a never-ending concern for family and community, justice and charity.

If he cares for others, he will never be alone.

We pray for wisdom to help our child achieve these things.

To fulfill the needs of his mind and body,

To be strong when he needs us to be strong,

To be gentle when he needs us to be gentle,

But always there when he needs us.

The birth of a child is a miracle of renewal.

We stand together this day, contemplating a miracle.

We stood surrounded by the great love of so many friends and family from so many parts of our lives. It was a fascinating group full of neat connections and we all shared in this simcha together.

The Hebrew word for joy is simcha, which is also the word for party. Little Man clearly brings us much joy and gives us a reason to party. As you can see, he is looking forward to even more parties in his future...

* All photographs courtesy of Mark Manne Photography