We view Temple Chayai Shalom as an extended family. When our individual member families have a life cycle event to celebrate or mourn, our temple family wants to help make the observance of these milestones as meaningful as possible.
Birth of a Child
Traditionally, ceremonies to welcome a baby into the covenant of Judaism include Brit Milah (circumcision covenant) for boys and Simchat Bat (joy of a daughter) or Brit Bat (daughter covenant) for girls. Brit Milah is typically held at home, officiated by a mohel, whom our rabbi can help find, and our rabbi is happy to participate as well if desired. “Baby naming” ceremonies (Simchat Bat and Brit Bat, as well as Brit ceremonies for boys who were previously circumcised without Jewish ritual) may be held at the temple during Shabbat services, when our temple family is eager to share in the welcome, or at another location at another time. At these ceremonies, the child is given a Jewish name as a sign of having been entered into the covenant of Judaism. Please contact our rabbi directly for more information.
(As a Reform congregation, we recognize as Jewish a child who has at least one Jewish parent, who identifies as being Jewish, and who is being raised solely in the Jewish religion. Other denominations of Judaism may only recognize as Jewish a child whose mother was Jewish at the time of the baby’s birth, unless the child is officially converted. If that distinction raises concerns for your family, we strongly encourage you to have a conversation with our rabbi about whether an official conversion would be beneficial.)
Because Judaism values lifelong learning, the time when a child starts formal Jewish education is worthy of celebration! Consecration marks a student’s first year in our Religious School program, which most often is in second grade, but older beginning students participate as well. We welcome them during a holiday service in the fall with special blessings and ceremony.
A Jewish child becomes Bar/Bat Mitzvah (responsible for the commandments) automatically upon turning 13. Soon thereafter, the student has the opportunity to lead the congregation in a service, read from the Torah, teach the congregation a meaningful lesson from the portion, and be welcomed by the community as a responsible young leader of the congregation. With great joy, our rabbi and our tutors help to prepare the young adult to assume these new privileges, and eagerly celebrate with the family on that day.
(As a Reform congregation, committed to egalitarianism, we celebrate becoming Bar/Bat Mitzvah for both boys and girls at age 13. Students need to have completed 5 years of our Religious School and be enrolled at least through the end of 7th grade, or be enrolled in Hebrew Day School and participate in our educational programs. For further information about becoming Bar/Bat Mitzvah, please consult our handbook.)
While becoming Bar/Bat Mitzvah is a major milestone, it is only the first step into Jewish adulthood. Because 13-year-olds continue to grow and develop, their Jewish learning must also grow and develop if Judaism is to remain relevant to them, especially during the teenage years. We offer many different ways to help young adults explore their Jewish identity. Students who continue in our programs may enroll in our Confirmation class, which our rabbi loves to teach, in 10th grade. This year of more mature reflection on the meaning Judaism has for them culminates in the ceremony of Confirmation, held at services on Shavuot in the late spring, which the students lead. Unlike Bar/Bat Mitzvah, which is usually marked as an individual family, Confirmation focuses on the group. Consequently, our entire temple family takes great pride and joy in this powerful celebration.
Our rabbi is delighted to officiate when couples consecrate their relationship! He enjoys meeting with them several times in the months leading up to the wedding ceremony, getting to know them and helping to craft a ritual that will be meaningful to and reflective of that particular couple. Weddings may be performed in our sanctuary or elsewhere. Please contact our rabbi directly for more information.
Our rabbi welcomes the opportunity to help people who are not Jewish explore whether Judaism may be the right choice for them. Through private meetings and group classes, he helps to guide this investigation, usually for at least a year. When the process culminates in a choice to become Jewish, he joyfully officiates at a conversion ceremony. These ceremonies may be held during Shabbat services, when our extended congregational family happily joins in the welcome, or at another time or place. Please contact our rabbi for more information.
Illness and Death
Our rabbi makes it a point to try to visit family members who are ill. He is also available to help families who are coping with a death in the family. Traditionally, following a funeral, the family sits “shivah” for a period of mourning. Temple members are ready to help at these times. Please let our rabbi know immediately when an illness or death occurs.