For the 10th year running, Rabbi Yitzchok Schochet ran an annual Chanukah Birchas Habonim event at his shul – the Mill Hill Synagogue in NW London.
More than 40 babies born in the past year were in attendance with their parents and grandparents for a special “baby blessing.”
The blessings includes the recitation of several Tefilois and Tehilim of shevach vhoido’oh, Menorah lighting (a torch handed from one father to the next and likewise by the women) with which the menorah is then lit.
At the end, the parents receiving a special poster with the Shema and their child’s name and birchas Cohanim.
“This is the tenth year of running this special ceremony and I can tell you it takes the toll of new babies born into the community during that time to just over 400,” Rabbi Schochet told the crowd.
Each child received a special momento and was then followed by a large scale Chanukah party, with more than 400 hundred children and their parents in attendance.
Explaining the significance of the event the Chabad rabbi added: “Look into the beautiful eyes of your tender child. What do you see? You see innocence, you see contentment, you see the beauty of G-d’s handiwork. But more than that, if you look deep enough, you see the essence of their soul. That soul, only a few short months ago was up above by the Divine side.
“Inasmuch as there is an umbilical chord that gets cut upon birth of your child, that spiritual chord through which the soul receives its holy nourishment and vitality – that never gets severed. When we bless our children we identify that chord – that spiritual energy and we tap into the very depths of their souls.
“This is why Chanukah is the most opportune time to celebrate and to bless our children. Chanukah is the miracle of lights. Is there any greater miracle than those precious children that we hold in our hands? Is there anything that brings greater light into our lives than those cherished bundles of joy? Moreover, Chanukah is from the root word chinuch which means to educate. Whatever our ambitions for our children, it remains our paramount responsibility that we instil within them right sort of Jewish education if we are to succeed in raising them with proper Jewish ideals and an appreciation of their precious identity.”
Schochet told COLlive that several Chabad Shluchim consulted with him about running a similar scheme since the program was first mentioned last year on COLlive.com.