Some of the most powerful moments of our lives are moments of transition: birth, watching a child become a teenager, graduation, and marriage. Add to these sweet and joyful moments those that are accompanied by sadness – divorce, and the death of a loved one, for example. There are many other kinds of life experiences where ritual can also be a helpful way to help us celebrate, mourn or move forward. There are Jewish rituals for after a miscarriage, for being in remission from cancer, for gender transitioning, for coming out, and more.
We turn to ritual at these times because they help us to become fully present to these moments by acknowledging the holiness in them. Ritual can help us connect the special moments in our lives to the powerful Source of Life that is so much greater than us. They enable families to celebrate in the fullness of being part of a community. And they help us to take the time that we need to mourn and acknowledge our losses.
Rabbi Gurevitz and Rabbi Eiduson want to help you mark these special moments. Here are just a few of the primary life cycles we celebrate at Congregation B’nai Shalom. We encourage you to contact us to learn more about these or others that you are seeking.
It is traditional for a boy’s birth and naming to take place at a Brit Milah, or Bris (circumcision), on his eighth day. We can provide contacts for local mohelim – physicians who have received additional training in the ritual words that accompany the circumcision. Rabbi Gurevitz and Rabbi Eiduson make themselves available, whenever requested, to join the mohel or mohelet to lead part of the ritual. Families who, for a variety of reasons, are seeking a naming ceremony only for their son, are also welcome to contact Rabbi Gurevitz or Rabbi Eiduson.
A baby naming for a girl does not need to be completed by a particular date. We usually arrange these with the family to take place either as part of a congregational service at the synagogue or, sometimes, in a service in the family home.
With both a Brit Milah and a naming, the Jewish ritual does more than just welcome the baby into the world. The parents are entering their child into a covenant with God and the Jewish people. This is a commitment to raise their child in the Jewish faith and provide them with a Jewish education.
Bar and Bat Mitzvah
We celebrate the coming of age of a young man or woman at or after their thirteenth birthday. A minimum of four years of Jewish education is required, although we work individually with children with special needs to ensure that all children can celebrate this important life cycle moment. The ceremony marks the arrival at the ‘age of mitzvot’ – the age at which an individual in the Jewish community has learned how to live according to Jewish ethics and principles and is given greater responsibility for continuing their learning and practice. We also offer an adult bar or bat mitzvah for anyone who did not have the opportunity to celebrate at the age of the 13.
You can find more information on bar and bat mitzvah on this page
The choice to celebrate a loving partnership with a Jewish wedding ceremony highlights the deeper meaning of a marriage and elevates the spiritual connection between two people by acknowledging the holiness of this connection. Rabbi Gurevitz and Rabbi Eiduson are available for Jewish weddings, and officiate at interfaith weddings and same sex weddings. Please contact them to learn more.
There is perhaps no time that the power of a Jewish community to provide comfort and support is felt than when a loved one dies. Congregation B’nai Shalom is committed to being that support to all members of the congregation, providing clergy to officiate at funerals, and a community to gather round and help during Shiva – the days following the funeral – when it is traditional to take 7 days to refrain from work and normal activities, and to have friends gather at the home for some or all of those days. Members of Congregation B’nai Shalom should contact Rabbi Gurevitz at the time of their loss.