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September 15, 1989 - Image 117

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-09-15

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raised from the water, the following bless-
ing is recited by one of the rabbis or by a
family member:
Baruch ata Adonai Eloheynu Melech
Ha-olam asher kid'shanu, be-mitzvotav
vitsivanu al ha'tevilah.
Praised are you, Adonai, God of all crea-
tion who sanctifies us With your command-
ments and commands us concerning
The schehehiyanu is then recited.
For boys, a mikvah appointment is
scheduled sometime after the circumcision
has healed. Remember, though that brit
milah or mikvah are delayed if there is any
suspicion of a health risk.
For girls, mikvah is the only ritual re-
quirement. Baby girls are named following
mikvah, either immediately after immer-
sion or sometime later in a ceremony at a
synagogue or at home.
While circumcision is performed at the
earliest possible date, there is some dif-

ference of opinion regarding mikvah. It is
not uncommon to take newborns to the
mikvah. One father counsels blowing into
the baby's face as she is dunked, which he
claims makes the child hold her breath for
the few seconds of immersion. However, ac-
cording to other sources, immersion is not
done until the baby is three years old and
some rabbis even recommend reserving
mikvah for much later. Indeed, some
parents and rabbis suggest that mikvah
take place when the child is preparing for
his or her bar or bat mitzvah, so it becomes
an intentional rite of passage for a young
person preparing to receive and accept the
responsibilities of the Ibrah.
This approach dovetails with Talmudic
law regarding converted children, for which
the process is not completed until the child
reaches maturity (traditionally, 13 years
old for boys, 12 for girls). At this time, the
child has the right to renounce—or
affirm—his or her Jewish identity. Legal-
ly, the right to renounce expires when a


child reaches adulthood; however, since
renunciation is based on the child's
knowledge of her origins, if the adoptions
has been kept a secret, she cannot decide,
and thus her Jewish status is not settled.
There are serious objections to this prac-
tice, on both halachic and psychological
grounds. Without mikvah an adopted child
is not legally Jewish. And a formal
reminder at the age of 12 or 13 that he is
not really Jewish can cause real distress.
This is often a time when identity issues
are coming to the fore; adoption creates
enough cause for ambiguity that convers-
tion should not be added to it. A simple
declaration of one's Jewish identity at bar
or bat mitzvah is sufficient acknowledg-
ment of the Talmudic right to renounce.
Whatever you decide to do about
mikvah, there is widespread support
among adoption professionals, Jewish and
non-Jewish, for full disclosure about your
child's origins from the beginning. In the
case of international or interracial adop-



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