Life Cycle

Welcoming a Baby

Judaism has a long-standing tradition of welcoming our newest members to the community at birth or adoption. Traditionally, we welcome boys through the ritual of b’rit milah, the covenant of circumcision, which occurs on the eighth day of the boy’s life. The twentieth century brought about the advent of equality and naming rituals were created for girls, which some families have chosen for their sons as well. Naming ceremonies usually occur within the first month after the child’s birth or adoption.

We celebrate these occasions at our Shabbat services and cherish the chance to wish a hearty “mazal tov!” (good wishes!) to the family. Rabbi Saks is available in the months leading up to the arrival of your child to create a meaningful naming ritual for your family. You can contact the office to set up a time to meet with him. It’s one of the best parts of his job!

Weddings

The Jewish ceremony of marriage is called kiddushin, which means holiness. The linking of two lives together is a sacred moment in Jewish tradition, which occurs in the presence of witnesses who make the union of the loving couple valid in Jewish law. Under the chuppah (a wedding canopy), a couple makes a pledge of commitment to one another in accordance with the traditions of Judaism, symbolized through the exchange of rings.

As a Reform congregation, Bet Ha’am believes that the union of two loving people of any gender is worthy of celebration. Our beautiful sanctuary is an ideal location for this integral moment in the life of a couple, and we welcome the opportunity to provide a sacred space in which to celebrate your union. If you are planning a Jewish wedding, please contact Rabbi Saks to inquire about having your ceremony at Bet Ha’am. In the meantime, mazel tov, congratulations!

Conversion

Judaism is a rich tradition of rituals, practices, and beliefs. While our tradition tells us that we are to be a light to the nations, Judaism prohibits us from actively seeking converts to Judaism. Still, many people find their path to spiritual fulfillment through the traditions of Judaism. Judaism is a religion first of deed and secondarily of creed, meaning that it is our actions that lead to belief rather than the other way around. Conversion to Judaism is thus often an intense and extensive process.

Bet Ha’am offers the opportunity for you to explore Judaism more deeply, whether or not you are interested in conversion, or even if you were born Jewish and want to add to your Jewish knowledge base. If you are exploring Judaism and perhaps considering conversion, first know that our worship services, our adult learning opportunities, our holiday celebrations, and so much more are open to you. Please contact us if you’d like to learn more.

Death and Dying

Rituals create stability and structure in our lives, bringing meaning to the highest moments and comfort to the darkest times in our lives. The Jewish rituals that guide us through death and dying and mourning ease us back into some semblance of normalcy in our lives. As we move from arranging a funeral to burying our loved one to shiva (the intense seven-day mourning period) to sh’loshim (the less intense thirty-day mourning period) to observing yahrzeit (the anniversary of a death) and yizkor (the four times a year memorial service), Judaism helps us find a balance in our lives between moving forward and remembering our loved ones.

Rabbi Saks and the Bet Ha’am community are here for you every step of the way. If you are contemplating your own death and need to speak with the rabbi, his door is open. If you are making advanced arrangements for your own funeral or the funeral of a loved one, we can connect you with those in the community to help make those plans. If you have experienced a loss, we will help you through the process. Our Caring Committee will assist you during the period of shiva and the weeks and months that follow. Please contact us if you need help during this difficult time.

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