As the modern world angles towards equality for women, one sometimes gets a sense the the Jewish world - especially the Orthodox world - is heading in the opposite direction. Consider the fact that the Israeli Supreme Court is still considering seperate busing for men and women in the ultra orthodox neighborhoods.

Talmudic texts clearly favor the birth of sons over the birth of daughters, but more recently, Jewish tradition has demonstrated its multiplicity of approaches. In this context, I was happy to read about the recent judgment by Judge Kimba Wood, the Souther District Judge of the New Yowk District Court.  A lawyer names Bennett Epstein asked for a trial postponement because he was expecting a grandchild.  Here''s what he wrote to the judge:


“Should the child be a girl, not much will happen in the way of public celebration. Some may even be disappointed, but will do their best to conceal this by saying, “as long as it’s a healthy baby.” . . . However, should the baby be a boy, then [there will be a] joyous celebration . . . known as the bris. . . . My presence at the bris is not strictly commanded, although my absence will never be forgotten by those that matter.”
 
Over the last three years, I have tried – in multiple ways- to convince the Jewish world that there are meaningful  and traditional ways to celebrate the birth of a daughter.  Having four daughters myself, I think that we as a family have tried to practice what I preach. Most recently, ITIM put up a website (in English and Hebrew) that allows parents to build a ceremony for the birth of their daughters.  You can find it here

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Judge Wood took Mr. Epstein’s claim seriously, at least according to the Wall street Journal. In her response, Judge Wood accepted his request, but took the liberty of adding a line or two. Here’s what she wrote.


“Mr. Epstein will be permitted to attend the bris, in the joyous event that a son is born. But the Court would like to balance the scales. If a daughter is born, there will be a public celebration in Court, with readings from poetry celebrating girls and women.”
 
I say: Kol Hakavod, Kimba!  Althought the idea of supporting a simchat bat is hundreds of years old - you can read about its history on the ITIM website, it is nice to know that a federal judge in New York supports the idea as well.

May there be many more celebrations!



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