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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 cantor 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. 

Planning a Wedding

Q: Where can I find more information about Jewish weddings?

A: These are some of our favorite URJ resources about planning a wedding and Jewish wedding rituals. We also recommend two books, The Jewish Wedding Now by Anita Diamant and Beyond Breaking the Glass: Spiritual Guide to Your Jewish Wedding by Rabbi Nancy Wiener.

Q: What do I do first?

A: Your very first step should be to contact the rabbi, cantor or other officiant who you want to perform the ceremony to be sure they’re available. Discuss options and availability with that person before you select a date, reserve a venue or make any deposits. Traditionally, Jews do not marry on Shabbat (from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday), on holy days, or in some parts of the summer due to the Jewish calendar.

Q: How do I schedule a wedding with our clergy?

A: Call us! Not only do we want to congratulate you, but we can help you set an appointment with Rabbi Greene to discuss his availability for your ceremony. Do this before choosing a date, booking a location for the wedding or reception, and especially before making any deposits.

Q: What if one of us is not Jewish?

A: Rabbi Greene and Cantor Avery will officiate at some Jewish weddings when one of the partners is not Jewish when certain important details are discussed. Call to arrange an appointment with Rabbi Greene to discuss your needs. Whoever you invite to officiate, ask this question early. Not every rabbi or Jewish officiant will be able to say “yes.”

Q: I’m getting married out of town. Can I still celebrate at Har HaShem?

A: Of course! Our clergy and congregation would love to offer a blessing at a Shabbat service near your wedding date.

Q: What are the costs of a wedding at Har HaShem?

A: For our members and ongoing supporters, there is no cost to use the Sanctuary for a wedding or lifecycle celebration. Depending upon day of week or time of day, there may be costs for custodial staff. Har HaShem does charge room rental for receptions, luncheons, dinners in our facilities. These will vary depending on your plans, and we'll be happy to discuss options. Contact the office for more information.

Q: Do clergy charge for officiating at a wedding?

A: Rabbi Greene and Cantor Avery do not charge any fees for our congregants, nor do most clergy who officiate for their own congregants. Independent clergy will require honoraria. It is likely congregation-based clergy will require an honorarium or a gift to the congregation. Ask directly. For our congregants, it is customary, but not required, to make a meaningful act of tzedakah to the officiant's discretionary fund or another fund at Har HaShem.

Q: What if we want someone other than Har HaShem clergy to officiate?

A: If you’d like to be married at Har HaShem by someone other than our clergy, call our office to arrange a conversation with Rabbi Greene. It’s customary for rabbis of the congregation to be informed/to invite other clergy to officiate at the congregation. If you are getting married with other officiants in town or out of town, we would still love to know so we can share our own Mazal Tov with you!!!

 

Mourning Practices

We want to support you and your family. Please call us at 303-499-7077 to 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 Yiddish 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 prayer that praises God's Name which we say in memory of our loved ones -- we say it for those who can't); lighting a yahrzeit candle before sundown the evening before the anniversary (one that burns for twenty-four hours, based on a verse from Proverbs 20: “the light of God is the soul of the human being”); or acts of tzedakah (contributions) to a cause or organization important to you or the one you remember. Click here for readings you can say at home when lighting the yahrzeit candle.

Share with us the names and yahrzeit dates of those you remember. We will read their names during our services. You can find yahrzeit candles in local groceries. We are sorry that we cannot provide them directly while our offices are closed.  

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, December 5 2022 11 Kislev 5783