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Danny Schoemmann mentions a ceremony called a chol-kreisch in this answer for giving the secular name of a child. Is this custom still observed, and if so, how is it practiced?

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A description of the ceremony is given in מדריך למנהג אשכנז המובהק.

My translation:

On that Shabbos when the mother of the new born goes to synagogue, a "Chol Kreisch"is made for the child. On the day of the miloh the child acquired his Jewish name by which he will be called to the Torah and on this Shabbos he is given his secular name. For example Yitzchok (will be called) Itzik; Eliezer, Leizer; Alexander, Sender; Mordechai, Mottel; Yechezkel, Chizki. There are those who do not give a secular name but repeat the Jewish name to make known that this is the name by which the child will be known in his secular life.

This is the order of the chol kreisch. After the Shabbos meal, children under barmitzvah come to the house of the new born. The baby is clothed in the same clothes that he wore to his circumcision and the cot is decorated and the child is covered with a tallis with tzitzis and a Chumash Vayikro is placed near him. The children sit round the table or stand round the cot and say the pesukim for chol kreisch as printed in the Avodas Yisroel and Sefas Emes siddurim. After saying the pessukim the children lift the cot and say aloud “Chol Kreisch, Chol Kreisch. What will the child be called Ploni, Ploni, Ploni” and they repeat this three times. Before the children leave they are given a bag of fruit, nuts and nosh. Girls also have a chol kreisch but they do not say the pessukim nor put the chumash in the cot.

Kahal Adas Yeshurun, Jerusalem reports (5 Oct '10)

Our Rov, Harav Yehudoh Gans Shlito, made a Chol Kreisch for his newborn son (Yosef) on שמחת תורה saying all the Pesukim as they appear in the Rodelheim Siddur, and he stated at this event, that it is a very old Minhog, which is brought already in the Seifer Chassidim.

The Nussach in question is the following:

Chol Kreisch Pesukim as they appear in the Rodelheim Siddur

  • Guess they did not agree with the Maharam Shik – sam Jan 4 '15 at 17:05
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    I guess they put a talis on a baby girl, too. – msh210 Jan 4 '15 at 21:44
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    @Danny Schoemann Thank you for adding the pesukim. – Avrohom Yitzchok Jan 5 '15 at 8:47
  • So if I don't have a goyishe name, Am I not complete Jew? – havarka Jan 7 '15 at 17:50
  • @havarka please consider the answer where it says, "There are those who do not give a secular name but repeat the Jewish name to make known that this is the name by which the child will be known in his secular life." – Avrohom Yitzchok Jan 7 '15 at 18:15
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My family origins are in Alsace and various places in Germany, which are places where the minhag was practiced historically. I have a 10 month old son, and I made a chol kreisch for him. I did it as it says in the Rodelheim siddur.

I'm not sure why it seems odd to give the child a "street name". The names that were given in much older times were so common and so accepted that they are now part of what everyone considers "Jewish" names. The names that we today think of as "double-barreled names" are combinations of the shem kodesh and the "street name". In "old time" Germany and France, a child named Shlomo was given the name Zalman at his chol kreisch. He was called Zalman (the exact same as the German secular name Salman or Salomon) on the street and at home, and was called to the Torah as Shlomo. The same is true of Zev, who would be called Volf by most people (with the nickname Velvel at home perhaps); Dov, who would be called Behr; Eliezer, who would be called Lipman; Elyakim, who would be called Goetzel; Meshulam, who would be called Zalman; Shraga or Uri, who would be called Feist or Feit or Feis; Yehoshua, who would be called Falk; Aryeh or Yehudah would be called Loeb/Leib; and on and on. Some of these names have fallen out of usage (such as Falk and Feist), and are today found only among Jews with closer ancestry from Germany. Others, like Zalman and Behr, are very commonly used.

These "street names" seem to have entered the "full" shem kodesh whenever Jews gave the names in lands where the "street name" no longer made sense, since German wasn't spoken in those places, such as Russia or Poland. Even still, while some people may be called to the Torah as Yehudah Leib, for instance, others will be called it only as a nickname. I have two friends named Leibish, one is called "Aryeh Leibish" fully, and the other is named Aryeh Yehudah, and goes by Leibish. While many might call it a "Jewish name", the fact is that Leibish originated as the German version of Hebrew names connected to "lion".

The Chasam Sofer has a tshuvah that says you should not call the person to the Torah by both their shem kodesh and "street name", like Shlomo Zalman, but only by their shem kodesh. The problem with that today is, since certain areas of Europe were no longer aware that both names weren't the shem kodesh, the "street name" entered the shem kodesh, and for many people is inseparable.

When I did my son's chol kreisch, I didn't say the name as it appears on his birth certificate, but the name that we call him, which is the "nickname" for his name. This is a bit funny, as he is named after my wife's side, and has a double barreled name that includes the old German-Yiddish "street name" in his shem kodesh.

  • Welcome to Mi Yodeya, Baruch, I hope you enjoy this site. FWIW, the German "street names" would also make sense in Yiddish, which was the language of the Polish and Russian Jews. Furthermore, the Chofetz Chaim was also opposed to using the double-barrel versions of names and there are still those Ost-Jüden who are noheig to give separate names. – Noach MiFrankfurt Jul 10 '15 at 14:16
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    Yes, they may make sense in Yiddish to some extent, but some of them aren't a Yiddish/German translation of the Hebrew name, but are taken from German secular names. In any event, in my community (which is a Yiddish-speaking community), people generally have no sense of these Yiddish names being sourced to German secular names and being used to ease interaction. In many cases where men only have a "Yiddish" name because their grandfather or father had the other name. So, today we have people named Leib ben Yehudah, which is quite laughable. – Baruch M Jul 10 '15 at 19:27

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