Lifecycle events offer opportunities to connect with rituals and traditions.
Lifecycle events offer opportunities to connect with rituals and traditions that have been part of the Jewish experience for centuries.
Our congregation provides a cultural and spiritual center in which to practice these activities.
Through each family's lifecycle events, our Rabbi and Cantor help individuals and families to become more in touch with the Jewish ideal of human beings created b'tzelem elohim, in God's image.
The rituals that mark life's occasions offer rich opportunities to learn about Judaism and fill the cycles of our lives with deeply meaningful, sacred rituals.
This is the first of the lifecycle observances in Jewish tradition. In it we express joy and thanksgiving for the birth of the child and publicly declare our commitment to raise the child in the covenant between God and the people Israel, exclusively as a Jew. The child is brought into the covenant of Abraham and Sarah with a Hebrew name and we express our hopes and commitments for the child's future.
Often, families will approach and plan for these traditions prior to the child's birth to be able to learn meanings and discuss family needs. Our Rabbi or Cantor will be delighted to meet with individuals and couples planning for their child's Brit Milah or Baby Naming. NVHC clergy can offer thoughtful input to families deciding on how to proceed with plans for their child's Jewish upbringing, including resources, workshops, classes, books and websites of interest to interfaith couples, those planning to adopt a child or other diverse families in our community.
For a Boy
Many Jewish families prepare for a traditional Brit Milah or circumcision on the eighth day. Although NVHC clergy are not trained to perform this ritual, please contact the synagogue for names of local mohalim or mohalot (leaders of the ritual of circumcision). If families have arranged for circumcision in a non-ritual setting, yet want to plan Baby or Child Naming ceremony for a young boy, our Rabbi or Cantor conduct these baby-namings during Sabbath worship for community members.
For a Girl
Many Jewish families prepare their child for Jewish life through a baby-naming during Sabbath worship at NVHC during which the parents and the baby are called to the bimah (stage) at a Sabbath Service, usually but not always, within 30 days of birth.
After a child in our tradition has marked a significant point in their Jewish education at NVHC (at least three years in our Judaic/Hebrew studies program of our Religious School) and are past the age of 13, a ritual is conducted as part of NVHC Sabbath morning services that acknowledges and welcomes the boy or girl as an adult member of the community.
In preparing for their Bar or Bat Mitzvah, NVHC students guide several prayers in our Sabbath services, along with chanting special portions from the Torah and Haftarah (Prophetic books). In addition, each student prepares a mitzvah project to benefit others in the community and a short d'var Torah (speech) that teaches the congregation about the Torah and its meaning to the child and relevance to our world.
Students attend religious school training and individual preparatory sessions with our Cantor, our Rabbi and B'nai Mitzvah tutor, each being challenged to assume the obligation of fulfilling community responsibilities according to the best of their capabilities.
Bar or Bat Mitzvah at NVHC are held only for children of Temple members and eligibility requirements are set by the Religious Education Committee and the Rabbi. The Cantor serves as the principal contact-point and administrator of our Bar/Bat Mitzvah program.
Confirmation is a rite in which our young adult students confirm the concepts and principles of the Jewish way of life and their acceptance of Torah.
Eligible students at NVHC meet in a confirmation preparatory seminar, a weekly class guided primarily by our Rabbi, exploring critical themes in modern Jewish life and Jewish ethics and values related in our Torah. Through confirmation class, each student is encouraged to explore the way in which they see Judaism playing a role in their lives into adulthood. Students share their findings and prayers as part of leading the worship during NVHC's annual observance of the Jewish Festival of Shavuot.
During a Jewish wedding, a couple receives the formal, public consecration of the community as they prepare to share life together based on Jewish values and practices. There are many exciting ways for engaged couples to learn and grow together.
Our Rabbi and Cantor regularly meets with individuals and couples and members and non-members of our synagogue who are seeking counsel to prepare for marriage. This includes both heterosexual and gay and lesbian partners preparing for marriage or a Jewish wedding.
During pre-marital meetings, our clergy can offer thoughtful input to couples deciding on how to proceed with wedding plans and marriage. As you explore whether or not rabbinical representation is appropriate to your wedding, our Rabbi or Cantor can direct interfaith and Jewish couples to classes and other workshops in our Jewish community.
It is important that couples personally meet with the Rabbi and/or Cantor ahead of time to discuss clergy participation in their wedding before making reservations and other arrangements.
NVHC and our Jewish community welcome all who undertake serious study, deliberative thought and practice to join the Jewish community in the ritual of conversion. Although one need not convert to Judaism to participate in lifecycle events within a Jewish family, those who have converted to Judaism are encouraged to learn, over a significant period of time, in a way that profoundly impacts all future Jewish observances.
Conversion ceremonies are made at the Rabbi's discretion. Jewish conversion rituals include immersion in a mikvah (Jewish ritual bath), taking a Hebrew name and ceremony of acceptance of Jewish mitzvot (sacred obligations) at a NVHC Sabbath Service.
Arrangements for study are also made with the Rabbi, who can share additional resources on the details of conversion study and the ritual.
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The death of a loved one reminds Jewish community members of the positive obligation to honor and lay to rest the deceased family member with affirmation of the quality of the person's life. Our Rabbi or Cantor officiate at funerals for NVHC congregation members and their immediate family when available.
Before scheduling a funeral, please notify the Rabbi or Cantor before other arrangements are made.
NVHC members work with families to facilitate details, such as the funeral home, cemetery, transportation and other needs. Workshops are periodically held to support members through bereavement counseling, pre-planning needs for funerals and other aspects of death and mourning.
Planning an Event
Our clergy meet with community members to discuss plans for lifecycle events in the context of the synagogue or Jewish community. To schedule an event, please contact the rabbi or cantor well in advance, before setting dates.
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