Jewish birth or adoption is a time of great celebration. Both a natural birth, or coming into a Jewish family through adoption, is cause for joy. Not only does the family get together to celebrate, but in some traditions the whole community is invited and everyone joins in the simcha (happiness, joy, or celebration) of a having a new life in their midst. The newborn, or adopted child, becomes the center of attention for everyone in the community, not just the family.

This is the time when a name is picked, and big preparations for the Brit Milah get started (if a boy), or a Brit Bat is secured (if a girl).

There are different ways baby names are picked.  Usually, parents pick a name to honor a relative, perhaps a parent or grandparent, or any other close relative they may want to honor, although it is not uncommon to name a baby after a renown Jewish personality in history, especially Biblical names. It is not a custom, however, for Ashkenazi Jews to name a baby after a living relative, so the naming would be after a deceased relative they want to honor posthumously, whereas Sephardic Jews consider it an honor to name a baby after a relative who is still alive.

Naming a baby is no easy task for Jewish parents as they must decide if their child will be called by his or her Hebrew name all the time, even outside the Jewish community (Hello, Shlomo, how are you?), or if they want to give their child a name that sounds the same in their native language or Hebrew (Daniel, could you please pass the salt?), or maybe they will give the child a Hebrew name and have everyone wonder where the name came from (Oh, yes, I know who Maya is.). Most, however, name their children with a secular name for everyday use, and give them a Hebrew name to use within the Jewish community (Where is Richard? – Who? – Binyamin, where is he?).

All Jews, regardless (born, adopted, or converted), will receive a Hebrew name for the purpose of using it during Life Cycles, Jewish celebrations, and legalities (aliyot, marriage, personalized prayers, death, etc.).