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Brit Ceremonies

Rabbi David Wolpe, in his book Why Be Jewish, taught that the Jewish people came out of Egypt bearing a message and a mission. The message was the highest truth - of one God who cares for human beings and who is passionately concerned about what we do. The mission was to bring the world to recognize that highest truth.

When we have a new addition to our families, we want to impart this message and mission to our children, little by little. In the Jewish community, that begins with a brit ceremony. Many of us are familiar with a brit milah (often just referred to as a bris) - the Covenant of Circumcision for our sons. For our daughters, many people talk about a "baby naming." For Congregation Har HaShem, we believe in entering our daughters into our Covenant/Brit in similar ways to our sons through a Brit Chaim (Covenant of Life).

Our rabbi and cantorial soloist are ready to work with you to enter your children into our Covenant with God and the Jewish People. For some, it is in the sanctuary at our synagogue on Shabbat. For others, it is in their homes.

When we do this, we "enter" these children into our brit, give them a Hebrew name, share blessings of good health and hopes for fulfilling lives, and we add their link to a chain of tradition that goes on for millennia.

Consecration

Consecration Ceremony 2017Consecration is the ceremony in which we formally welcome our youngest students and those new to our congregation into our learning community. Students are matched with 8th grade buddies to begin conversations about what it means to embrace a Jewish life of learning and be part of this community to grow one's Judaism. Parents have their own conversation with Rabbi Greene about supporting and guiding their children on this journey. Students receive a special mini-Torah on the occasion of their Consecration.

B'nai Mitzvah

B’nai Mitzvah is an important milestone in a family and young person’s life. It is in the public ritual of bar or bat mitzvah that a child expresses how his or her learning and experiences have shaped the young Jew who s/he is becoming. As we prepare our young people for this transition, we are guided by a vision of Jewish life that is inspiring, informed by knowledge of the Jewish tradition, responsible to individual needs, and enriched by community.

Har HaShem also highly values the diverse learning needs of our students and works with students' strengths to design a ritual that will enable them to shine through a significant accomplishment. There are many paths to becoming a bar or bat mitzvah at Har HaShem, all of which enable our families to individualize their experience while celebrating together as part of a community that lasts beyond the ritual moment. We invite you to explore our many learning programs.

As we seek to instill in our students a deep and profound connection to the Jewish tradition and the Jewish people, we hope to:

  • Inspire young people by helping them find a meaningful connection to Jewish spirituality, tradition and ritual.
  • Guide young people to use Jewish values, rooted in Torah, to make significant decisions in their lives.
  • Transmit to young people significant knowledge of the Jewish spiritual tradition and Jewish sacred texts.
  • Foster each young person's discovery of his/her unique path for engaging with and expressing Jewish ideas and teachings.
  • Help parents to deepen their own knowledge and practice of Judaism.
  • Generate connections and community amongst both students and parents.
  • Formally extend the Jewish learning journey beyond the bar/bat mitzvah year.

Confirmation

Confirmation Class 2017Congregation Har HaShem's 10th graders learn about God, Torah and Israel with Rabbi Greene. They build a foundation of Jewish knowledge and identity through study of classic and contemporary Jewish sources addressing contemporary issues relevant to their lives: relationships, peer pressure, connection to God, their power to heal a broken world, and much more.

The year includes a four-day trip to the  Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington, D.C., where they study contemporary issues in a Reform Jewish context and lobby to our legislators on Capitol Hill.

The students create and lead a ceremony at the end of the year to celebrate their learning and commitment. 

Mourning Practices

We want to support you and your family. Please let us know when someone you care about has died. Our clergy will guide you as you begin to mourn.

Shiva

Shiva (Hebrew for seven) is a seven day period of mourning beginning the evening of the burial. Reform Jews sometimes observe Shiva for fewer than seven nights. Having a Shiva minyan allows a community to support and comfort mourners.

Learn more about sitting Shiva or how to prepare for Shiva.

Yahrzeit

Yahrzeit (from the German for anniversary) is the term for the anniversary of a death. Traditionally, Jews remember a loved one on the Hebrew anniversary (based on a lunar calendar) of death. Many in our community remember their loved ones on the Gregorian date. We will gladly read a name on whichever date you choose.

Jewish tradition includes several rituals for observing a yahrzeit: attending services and reciting Kaddish (a hymn praising God); lighting a yahrzeit candle before sundown the evening before the anniversary; or acts of tzedakah (contributions) to a cause or organization important to you or the one you remember. 

Share with us the names and yahrzeit dates of those you remember. We will read their names during our services. Request a yahrzeit candle or readings appropriate for remembering from our office. (You can also find yahrzeit candles in local groceries.) 

Yizkor

Traditionally, we light small yahrzeit candles and recite special prayers of Yizkor ("may God remember") on the evening prior to the last days of our Festivals -- Pesach (Passover), Shavuot and Sukkot -- and Yom Kippur. Morning services on these days and afternoon services on Yom Kippur include the Yizkor prayers.

Check our calendar to see when these services occur at Har HaShem.

Mon, August 20 2018 9 Elul 5778