Life Cycles מעגל החיים
Oh God, the soul You gave me is pure: You created it, You fashioned it and You breathed it into me, Morning blessing
The Jewish people have always welcomed boys into the covenant formally marking the occasion with celebration and circumcision. The birth of a girl, while met with joy, had no traditional ritual or communal celebration associated with it.
At Etz Chayim, we offer a variety of ways to formally welcome both boys and girls, whether by birth or adoption whether by brit milah, ברית מילה, [circumcision for boys] or by simchat bat, שמחת בת, or brit bat, ברית בת, [for girls] or another appropriate ceremony.
Please contact Rabbi Allison to discuss how your family and your unique circumstances can be woven into a personally meaningful ceremony to welcome your little one into the Jewish community.
Bar & Bat Mitzvah בר / בת מצוה Becoming a Jewish Adult
In the final analysis it is not what you do for your children but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings.
- Ann Landers
The path to adulthood is full of twists and turns from celebrating a bar or bat mitzvah to leaving home for the first time, the journey fraught with new freedom, new responsibilities and an abundance of complex emotions for both the ‘child’ and the parent.
At Etz Chayim, we offer blessings, prayers and rituals to help parents and children use a Jewish vocabulary to describe this journey and to experience it as richly as possible.
For more information about becoming a bar or bat mitzvah, click here.
Marriage & Committed Relationships
I always say to a couple at their wedding:
Make sure, my dear ones, that you always desire to bring happiness and pleasure to one another, as you feel at this time. Know that the moment that you start making demands from each other - behold, your happiness has already left you.
- Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler
Jewish tradition is rich in wedding customs. Rabbi Allison can help you design your own ceremony including pre-wedding customs such as ten’aim [engagement)] during which it is customary for the couple’s mothers to break a plate, the bedecken [the veiling of the bride and modern alternatives], and the tischen [literally, ‘tables’ where grooms and/or brides receive blessings and enjoy other rituals immediately prior to the wedding ceremony].
Sadly, not every relationship, despite the best efforts of the parties concerned, works out. The dissolution of a relationship is heartbreaking. Years of shared love and commitment can turn to bitterness and acrimony. Even friendly separations generate feelings of sorrow and loss.
Should a divorced person wish to remarry, a gett [Jewish divorce] is required. Traditionally, only a man could initiate Jewish divorce proceedings which required a woman’s passive participation and did not address the concerns of same-sex couples.
Recognising that a divorce means more than the dissolution of property with, often, woman being perceived as ‘property’ in the traditional male-female power imbalance inherent in some traditional orthodox divorce procedures, Progressive Judaism process provide comfort and closure for all parties undergoing a divorce.
End of Life
The only truly dead are those who have been forgotten.
- Jewish Proverb
A person enters the world with closed hands, as if to say: The world is mine; but leaves with open hands, as if to say: I take nothing with me.
- Midrash Ecclesiastes R. 5:14
Judaism places great emphasis on living life fully and generously, but recognises death is an inevitable end and, therefore, also part of life.
Most Jews, including those who have distanced themselves from Jewish practice, seek the comfort of tradition in the face of death.
For mourners whose lives are often turned upside down by death, the traditional practices of mourning can provide structure and comfort.
Please visit Bet Olam Jewish Funerals for more information.