Life Cycle EventsCelebration of Life Through Jewish Observance
The celebration of lifecycle events is a core element of Jewish observance. At Temple Shalom, we strive to answer the question, “What does living a Jewish life mean?” We celebrate the Reform Jewish home, Jewish family and Jewish cultural life. We leave it up to each individual to choose the traditions they wish to follow. Below you will find information on basic Jewish lifecycle celebrations and explanations on how Temple Shalom follows these rituals. Our hope is that you discover your own place within our rich heritage.
Please note that priority of lifecycle officiations goes to those who are members of Temple Shalom.
Brit Milah (BOYS)
Brit Milah, or “Bris” as we say in Yiddish, is the ritual circumcision of a Jewish infant on the 8th day following his birth. Despite some recent trends on the American scene to leave baby boys uncircumcised, circumcision remains a requirement for male Jewish identity even within the Reform Movement, the most liberal of the branches of American Judaism. Not only is it considered healthier, but it is the statement of identity for a Jewish boy. By giving their son a Brit Milah, parents affirm their son’s entrance into the Jewish People and the covenant between that child and God. One does not need a rabbi or cantor at a Brit Milah. Rather, a mohel is the Jewish professional conducts the service and performs the circumcision. There are many Reform mohalim who are physicians, usually urologists or Ob-Gyns. Oftentimes, families choose to have a smaller, private Brit Milah and a more public baby naming and blessing by our clergy members as part of a service at a later date. We are also happy to arrange such a ritual with you.
Brit Habat (GIRLS)
Since Jewish boys are brought into the covenant of the Jewish people through the rite of Brit Milah, a few decades ago rabbis began to create ceremonies for entering Jewish girls into the People of Israel. Some have a “Brita” or “Brit Habat,” a ceremony in the home that is akin to a Bris but without any medical procedure. Others have a baby naming in the synagogue during regular services. Whether you choose to have your ritual at home or as part of a Temple service, we are happy to work with you to create a celebration of blessing for your newborn daughter.
At Temple Shalom, Jewish children become B’nei Mitzvah at the age of thirteen. Now responsible for their own ritual and ethical behavior, the child and family celebrate this milestone by coming to Torah and helping to lead services. At Temple Shalom this is an intimate, warm, joyful, and meaningful experience. For information on B’nei Mitzvah policies and fees click here.
The sacred bond between committed partners is a treasured cornerstone of Jewish community life. Here at Temple Shalom, our rabbi will work with you and your partner and officiate your wedding. If you wish to have an aufruf, a special blessing on the Shabbat Service preceding your wedding, contact us. For information on wedding fees click here.
Conversion / Outreach
Temple Shalom is a warm and inviting community for those curious about Judaism, considering converting to Judaism, or who are raising Jewish children. We welcome those who wish to explore our faith and consider embracing the Covenant of Israel. Our rabbi works with individual candidates toward conversion. Our Outreach Program provides programming and events designed to give you an opportunity to learn more about Jewish belief and practice, as well as to embrace and celebrate the multicultural aspects of our diverse community. For information on how those who have not yet completed gerut as well as non-jewish guests and community members may participate in services click here.
Illness and Healing
Temple members can reach out to one another in various ways, including phone calls, visits, and support during times of illness, hospitalization, and bereavement. If you or someone you know needs this support, please contact us. The Mishberech prayer for healing is offered at each of our Shabbat services. If you have a name of a loved one, friend, or Temple member in need of healing that you would like to be read during this prayer, please contact us.
One of the most important aspects of synagogue life is that people are there for each other in times of crisis, pain, and loss. We are honoured to help people when there has been a death in the family. At the time of a loss, contact us so that we can be sure that we can be available in your time of need. Our rabbi or a layperson will meet with you to comfort you and will conduct a service that is meaningful and comforting. For information on local & Toronto-based funeral homes that are well-versed in Jewish ritual, please see our document In The Case of A Death.
In accordance with Jewish tradition, some of our members “sit shiva,” receiving comforting guests at their home following the service. While the tradition is seven days, many people observe for one or sometimes two or three days. The rabbi or a layperson will officiate at shiva minyan services in the home of the bereaved as required. Temple Shalom provides appropriate prayer books as needed. Usually before the first year is over, an unveiling takes place as the stone is placed at the grave. We are happy to work with you to prepare a short service to lead on your own, or with the rabbi’s or a layleader’s guidance. Please contact us to make arrangements.
For more information on rituals and customs surrounding Jewish death, please see this PowerPoint presentation, “Jewish Death and Mourning Rituals“, prepared by Rabbi Lori Cohen.