"Be fruitful and multiply" is the first commandment. In the Jewish tradition, having children is not only a primary religious obligation; it is considered the crown of human experience and the source of the greatest possible happiness. The arrival of a new Jewish baby has always been greeted with happiness, ceremony, and a wealth of customs.
Mazel Tov! You're having a baby. You have decided to have a Brit ceremony. Brit, is the Hebrew word for covenant. The covenant of circumcision is the oldest continuous Jewish rite, a ritual that unites Jews throughout the ages. Taking place on the 8th day following the birth of a baby boy, this ancient ceremony announces the parents' commitment to taking on the responsibilities and joys of raising a child according to the terms of the contract between God and the Jews. Brit bat, the act of welcoming infant daughters to this historic relationship, does the same with words and rituals.
To schedule a Brit ceremony, contact Rabbi Shira Joseph or Cantor Steven Weiss. There are many options available to you:
- Your Home
- Congregation Sha'aray Shalom - During a worship service on Friday night or Saturday morning
The clergy will help you decide on the appropriate time and place for your special ceremony. An excellent book to help you get started, is The New Jewish Baby Book by Anita Diamant.
"Bar and Bat Mitzvah is what a young person becomes, simply by becoming thirteen. It is not an event or ceremony. It is not a verb, as in "The rabbi bar mitzvahed my son." Bar and Bat mitzvah literally translates as, "Son or daughter of the commandment." What it really means is "Old enough to be responsible for the mitzvot. " Mitzvot are the commandments that a .Jew does in order to not only live a .Jewish life, but also to sanctify life. ..
- Rabbi Jeffrey K. Salkin, Putting God on the Guest List
Bar or Bat Mitzvah means “Son or Daughter of the Commandment”. When Jewish children reach the age of 13, they are old enough to understand the commandments and be responsible for fulfilling them. A child, upon becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah is included as an adult in the religious life of our people and is now responsible for his or her moral decisions.
- Being called to read from the Torah and recite the blessings over the Torah.
- Offering the d’rash (speech,), which showed his Talmudic understanding.
- Wearing Tefillin and Tallit for the first time.
- Being present while a special prayer was recited by his father.
In modern times in liberal congregations, women are entitled to access the same mitzvot, as are men. Therefore, led by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, the founder of the Reconstructionist movement, the Bat Mitzvah was created.
At Congregation Sha’aray Shalom, the process of becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah includes learning to read Hebrew from the prayer book, the Torah, and from the Prophets, leading the congregation in a Sabbath service, giving a speech as well as performing a Mitzvah project. It also means the family has made a commitment to our heritage and to our congregation and that the student has attended Religious School and is familiar with our Jewish traditions. By deed and word, the student states a commitment to continue on through Confirmation. Becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah assumes the student is ready to declare his or her loyalty to Judaism and to be counted as a member of the Jewish people.
During the festival of Simchat Torah we celebrate as a community the beginning of formal Jewish education of our youngest Temple members who have entered Kindergarten as well as new students to our synagogue community. The evening of celebration begins with a dinner for the entire family. The celebration continues on the bimah as the students receive their very own Torah scroll.
"The Holy One, Blessed be God, loves gerim (converts) greatly" - Midrash
At Congregation Sha'aray Shalom, gerut follows a period of preparation of about a year in length. During this period, the prospective Jew-by-Choice studies Judaism, participates in the life of the synagogue and the Jewish community, and develops and deepens his or her personal commitment to, and relationship with, God, Torah and the Jewish people.
We look forward to working with you as you explore Jewish life. For more information on conversion, please contact the clergy.
Funeral Services, Minyans, and Unveilings
"May God comfort you among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem."
When death is imminent, families and Friends need comfort, support, care, and guidance, which our Temple community can provide. The time of bereavement is difficult. Personal rabbinic guidance and written materials are available to help families organize their plans and prepare.
At the time of death please notify the Temple immediately at 781.749.8103. After hours you may speak with either Rabbi Joseph or Cantor Weiss at home. Funeral services, minyans, and unveilings are scheduled directly with the clergy.
"The rabbis who codified Jewish law, made it so easy for couples to marry that the minimal requirements for carrying out a kosher Jewish wedding can be summed up in a few words: the bride accepts an object worth more than a dime from the groom, the groom recites a ritual formula of acquisition and consecration, and these two actions must be witnessed. That constitutes a Jewish wedding; the rest of the traditions associated with .Jewish weddings - the chupah, the seven wedding blessings, the breaking of a glass, even the presence of a rabbi and cantor- are customs. Custom changes over time and differs from one nation to the next. Some Jewish wedding customs have been discarded and forgotten, and some persist with even greater symbolic and emotional power that the religious prescriptions." -Anita Diamant, The New Jewish Wedding
At Congregation Sha'aray Shalom we can help make your wedding the once-in-a-lifetime simcha it should be. You can choose to have everything from the rehearsal dinner, to the ceremony, and the reception here at Temple. Or, perhaps you just want to be blessed by the rabbi or cantor prior to taking your vows.
Weddings Q & A
Q: What is the first thing I do to schedule my wedding at Congregation Sha'aray Shalom or at a reception hall?
A: Contact the rabbi and the cantor to confirm the date and time of your wedding.
Q: Will the clergy officiate at my ceremony in which my partner is not Jewish?
A: The clergy are open to discussing officiating at Jewish weddings in which the non-Jew agrees to have a Jewish wedding and a Jewish home. Contact the rabbi and the cantor to further discuss these sensitive issues.
Q: Will the clergy officiate at my ceremony in which my partner and I are gay?
A: The requirements for officiating at a wedding are the same for all wedding couples.
Q: Is there a charge for my wedding?
A: There is no charge for the worship space for our members or children of our members. Fees apply for any reception space you choose to utilize. It is appropriate to give Tzedakah in honor of this simcha.
Q: How do I schedule an aufruf or a blessing of the bride and groom?
A: Let the clergy know you would like to be blessed during one of the Shabbat services preceding your wedding. They will schedule it at a time which works for both you and the synagogue. Traditionally, the aufruf is just prior to the wedding date although this is flexible. To recognize the blessing it is appropriate to contribute towards the Oneg Shabbat following services.
Q: Where can I get more information about the Jewish wedding ceremony?
A: Anita Diamant's book, The New Jewish Wedding, is available at Judaic Treasures and the Weisberg Library. The Life Cycles office maintains a source list of vendors with everything from where you can order' a Ketubah to who call do your wedding day hair and makeup.