A powerful aspect of congregational life is the sense of community we feel when we share rites of passage with each other. At Shir Hadash, we strive to create a spiritually rich context for these passages. The information that follows will help you plan your events. Please notify the office about life-cycle events, both joyous “simchahs” and losses in your family. Rabbi Weiner-Kaplow and the Shir Hadash Mitzvah Committee are available to assist and support families in times of transition. We can announce news about members in our weekly eBulletin and at Shabbat services in order to bring healing and support in times of sadness and celebration in times of joy.
The synagogue office has several Hebrew name books for parents mulling over names for new arrivals. The Rabbi is available to work with prospective parents and families to plan for a Brit Milah (ritual circumcision for sons) or a Brit Bat (covenanting ceremony for daughters) as well as baby namings for both.
Because a Brit Milah must take place on the 8th day after the birth of a male child (or as advised by a pediatrician), parents need to move quickly to arrange for a mohel to perform the rite. It is important that parents coordinate scheduling with the mohel before announcing the time with family and friends. The family will meet with the mohel several days prior to the Brit Milah. The Rabbi can participate in the Brit Milah with the mohel by announcing the name of the child and giving a D’var Torah at the ceremony. There are several ways to involve family and to add special prayers and rituals that the Rabbi can explain prior to the ceremony.
The ceremony of Pidyon Haben, redemption of the firstborn, is a mitzvah followed when the new father is a kohen. It takes place 30 days after the birth of a firstborn son. Because specific conditions must be met to be able to perform this mitzvah, it is very important to consult the Rabbi. He will assist parents in planning this lovely ceremony that is also followed by a se’udat mitzvah meal.
Brit Bat (Ceremonies for Girls)
Traditionally, the birth of a girl was celebrated when her father came to the synagogue on the Shabbat immediately after her birth and announced the child’s Hebrew name during an aliyah at the Torah service. At Shir Hadash, we encourage both the mother and the father to be present at the naming. Welcoming a baby girl into the Jewish community may be done with a special ceremony at services or through a separate ceremony at a member’s home. Contact the Rabbi for details.
A baby-naming ceremony can be held for boys and girls at Friday evening services. It is also common for new-parents to sponsor an oneg, special refreshments, following a Shabbat evening service in order to share their simchah with the congregation. A naming ceremony can also be held in one’s home. Contact the Rabbi for more information.
All Bar/Bat Mitzvah services are open to the Shir Hadash community and are held at a location selected by the family – with the approval of the Rabbi. Young persons come before the congregation after several years of Jewish study and special preparation to take their place as a new leader of the Jewish community. The Rabbi schedules all B’nai Mitzvah services at Shir Hadash. Families must be members to have a Bar/Bat Mitzvah at the synagogue. Bar/Bat Mitzvah services are generally conducted on Shabbat mornings. Services may be held at other times in emergency situations. Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremonies are also possible for adults or older teenagers who did not have ceremonies at age 12/13.
Couples planning to get married should first contact Rabbi Eitan to set on a date and to begin the process of planning a ceremony.
The Rabbi is available to provide short-term counseling for couples undergoing severe marital stress. He also can arrange for the writing and issuance of a get (Jewish divorce document) following the decree of divorce from a civil court. Please call the Rabbi directly if you need assistance in this sensitive area.
If a loved one is sick, please contact the office to inform the Rabbi and Mitzvah Committee. The Rabbi and committee members are available to visit and offer prayers of refuah shleimah – complete and speedy healing.
Death & Mourning
The Shir Hadash community is prepared to provide comfort and assistance during times of grief and mourning. Upon a death, please call Rabbi Kevin Bernstein as soon as possible. The Rabbi will give you timely guidance on funeral arrangements and is available to provide comfort and solace at a difficult time. He will also coordinate with the Mitzvah Committee to help with notifying the congregation, funeral attendance, condolence meal planning, and Shivah minyan leadership.